The Surprising Second Life of an Abandoned Victorian Sea Fort
Between 1850 and 1852, a mighty, squat stone fort rose from a low-lying island in the Milford Haven Waterway in Wales. Originally proposed by Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII, more than 300 years earlier, Stack Rock Fort—about 800 yards off the coast—was built to protect the Royal Dockyard at Pembroke Dock from attack by sea. It had a 30-foot tower, walls nine feet and nine inches thick, and housed three large cannons and one smaller one. A few years later casemates were added, and by 1870, the fort got a major makeover, inspired by the threat of Napoleon III. A new battery was added, able to hold up to 175 soldiers and five officers. Most of the fort’s useful life was spent undergoing upgrades, and it only really saw active use during World War I. In 1929 it was finally decommissioned, disarmed, and scoured for useful materials. Since then, the lonely three-story fort has sat vacant but for crashing waves, nesting gulls, and opportunistic plants.