The property values showing little sign of falling, the fate of one familiar property, No Man?s Land fort in the Solent off the coast of Hampshire, is a timely reminder that the financial laws of gravity still apply.

The massive fort was built during the 1890s to prevent iron-clad French warships from bombarding Portsmouth?s dockyards. Massive granite blocks were cut and shaped on land, trans-ported on barges and lowered into the sea to form a base for the fortress. The upper walls were covered in thick armour-plating, and internally, the gun-emplacements were designed to absorb the heaviest barrage.

In the early 1990s, the fort was offered for sale by Knight Frank at a guide price of £950,000, and subsequently bought and converted over a six-year period?first to a private residence, then to an exclusive venue for conferences, weddings and functions, at daily rates of £50,000 or more.

On May 11, 2000, this ?ultimate secure destination for business or pleasure? was offered for sale in COUNTRY LIFE by FPDSavills at £10m; 100,000sq ft of accommodation included the converted lighthouse, 25 bedrooms, 6 bars, an indoor swimming pool complex, two helipads and entertaining space for 500 guests.

Projected annual profits of £1m evidently failed to materialise. An advertisement placed by Savills in COUNTRY LIFE (November 3, 2005) invited ?offers? on behalf of the LPA Receiver, presumably on the basis that, sometimes, what goes down can also come back up again.

This article was published in Country Life magazine, December 22/29 2005

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