Fort Bovisand has a dual history. It is one of the best surviving Palmerston Forts built in the 1860s.  It defended the navy and Plymouth from the 18th century right the way through to the end of World War II, with its firepower being continually upgraded and replaced to adapt to the new threat.  As a strategic location, it was taken off the OS map in the 1860s and policed the anti-submarine boom placed across the Sound in World War I.  It was armed to the teeth with guns and searchlights and yet two bombs fell on it in the Blitz in 1941.  

From 1970 onwards, the Fort went on to become the largest and most important commercial diving training centre in Europe.  The Sound is an exceptional diving location because of the clean, clear water, the diversity of marine life and because it is home to  nearly 500 ship, submarine and aircraft wrecks - the earliest recorded shipwreck is 1362.  There is a remarkable heritage and marine environment to explore beneath the waves and one that connects to Fort Bovisand because its whole purpose was to sink enemy ships and submarines.  

Further back into its past, the construction and survival of Bovisand Pier provides an insight into the organisation and logistics of the Royal Navy before and after of the Napoleonic wars. The site also has potential archaeological evidence for the form, design and use of Elizabethan artillery batteries, that played a part in defence against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The site is associated with important characters in the development of civil and military engineering, most notably John Rennie (1761-1821), famed for his design of many bridges, canals, docks and harbours.  His development and use of the diving-bell in the construction of Bovisand Pier, and other works around the Sound including the breakwater, was a major innovation.  The military engineer, Major Whitworth Porter (1827-1892), who was responsible for the design of many of the fortifications which were instigated by the Royal Commission report of 1859, was personally involved in the design of the Bovisand Fort.  He later became Instructor in Fortification at Sandhurst (until 1868), and wrote several books including Life in the Trenches Before Sebastopol (1856), History of the Knights of Malta (1858) and History of the Corps of Royal Engineers (1889).

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