Fraser Gunnery Range

Heavily guarded, patrolled, and fenced off. This was a stealth mission for the abandoned military site.

 HISTORY

Located in Portsmouth, Fraser Range was named as such in 1945 after Admiral of Fleet Baron Bruce Fraser of North Cape. It specialised in training naval gunnery personnel in director sight firing. The range was built somewhere between 1924 and 1937 as it is clearly seen in aerial photographs of Fort Cumberland (headquarters for  Royal Marines Artillery) taken within this date range.

The site had 4.5″ and 4.7″quick firing, as well as 40mm Bofors guns, configured to simulate a shipboard firing.By the 1960s there was also a Seacat Missile launcher for training purposes.

Fraser was also home to HMS St George, Royal Navy special forces officers school where high performing candidates were to receive 9 months of specialised training.

In 1972 Fraser was featured in an episode of Dr Who when it stood in for HMS Seaspite in the episode titled “The Sea Devils”, starring Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning.

The school moved to Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in 1974. Fraser Gunnery closed in 1986 but was briefly reopened in 1989 as the Civil Marine Division of the Admiralty Research Establishment. The Civil Marine Division mostly used Fraser for testing RADAR equipment.

THE EXPLORE

It was exceptionally warm and sunny for a Decembers day and I left for a full day of exploring with high hopes. 9 Explores planned for the day, zero success. We were about to call it a day, but Fraser Range came to the rescue!

Although, this was not as easy as anticipated. The building was heavily guarded (just as it was in its former days as a military operation), and there was no point of access in sight. A quick walk down the coast side led us to a small hole in the metal fence surrounding the premises. Any other day, the guards would have put us off. But not today. We were determined to finally get in somewhere and this building looked amazing. We decided to accept the stealth mission dealt to us and headed on inside.

The decay was beautiful, and the most photogenic hallway I have ever come across in a full year of exploring was featured inside. All the windows on the top floor were wide open and each provided a beautiful view of the beach and the bluest sky I had seen in a long time. Unfortunately, security pods were also just outside these windows. We managed to remain undetected until we heard through a walkie-talkie that the guards were starting their patrol.

We got right back to the fence, but the hole in the fence had been resealed, leaving us locked inside the grounds. We had no choice but to approach the guards, take a slap on the wrist, and ask them to let us out. They were rather kind to be fair. Totally worth it, an adrenaline-filled explore.

If you would like to see more of this abandoned military site, check out the video of my explore below.

 

All screen captures are the copyright of the BBC and appear here as reference to illustrate the location in comparison with how it looked at the time of filming and the present day; no attempt is made to supercede this or any other copyright.

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