A LISTED Milford Haven Fort which has had a long fight for survival has been bought by a local businessman who wishes to open it to the public as a ‘living ruin’.

Hubberston Fort, on the west side of Milford Haven, was purchased by Guy Anderson, a Pembroke Dock Town Councillor, earlier this month from the Port of Milford Haven.

“I plan to turn it into a living ruin,” Mr Anderson said.

“We have such a phenomenal history here, the forts we have in Pembrokeshire should rival any that you find in places like Portsmouth.

“It needs a good clean and tidy to make it safe and then to open it up to the public. It can be somewhere you can walk to, have a look around and have a picnic.”

Milford Mercury: Councillor Guy Anderson outside the Paterchurch Tower in Pembroke Dock. Picture: Martin CavaneyCouncillor Guy Anderson outside the Paterchurch Tower in Pembroke Dock. Picture: Martin Cavaney

The fort was declared one of Britain’s most endangered archaeological sites in 2011 by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust.

Mr Anderson has form with fixing-up old buildings in the area, having previously converted a Pembroke Dock gun tower into a home.

He said the plan for the fort is to open it up in stages, with the easier to manage bits opening first, but completing all the work would be ‘hugely variable’.

“It’s working out what’s there,” he said. “First it's cleaning it out, then installing some information panels and getting some basic exhibitions in there. It’s a blank canvas.

“The barracks will need a huge amount of involvement and it would be nice in the future to put in some smaller infrastructure in there so we could hold theatre or cinema nights."

Mr Anderson said he was not interested in competing with local companies and would be looking to work with them but has not spoken to anyone yet.

“I intend to put a stage in there, but I envisage it as a facility that people like the Torch Theatre could use.

“On a beautiful summer day, it could be a place to hold a fashion show.”

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Mr Anderson, who has worked as a project manager for the Olympics, said the project was less daunting because he isn’t trying to do anything elaborate with the structure.

“The biggest thing is it’s a massive clear up,” he said. “It seems a shame to have it locked behind closed doors when it’s part of the local history.”

“I want it to be accessible for everyone,” he added.

Mr Anderson said he is not planning on charging an entrance fee, but there would be a donation box.

Vivien Stoddart, county councillor for the Hubberston ward welcomed the news that the site had been purchased.

"That the fort is to have a new lease of life is excellent news,” she said. “The fort, which towers over Gelliswick Bay, was named as one of the country’s most endangered archaeological sites.

“Over the years, various plans have been promoted to preserve and use the ancient monument, including converting it for housing in association with a marina in Gelliswick Bay.

"More recently, there was an ambitious plan by an organisation called Camp Valour, fronted by Fabian Faversham-Pullen, to renovate the fort to restore it to "its former glory and once completed the fort will become home to the world's first veteran transition centre " according to Camp Valour's glossy prospectus.

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"This grandiose scheme was greeted with local scepticism. Investigative journalists researched the background of Camp Valour and cast doubt on the organisation's ability to deliver. Veteran groups also called in to question the service record of Fabian Faversham-Pullen.

"No more was heard from Camp Valour.

"Mr Anderson's offer of community involvement is welcome. His plan for a managed ruin is a much more realistic and sustainable project to ensure the fort's long-term future which will preserve the heritage of the site for future generations."

Clare Stowell, director of property and tourism at the Port of Milford Haven, who sold the structure to Mr Anderson, said they were confident the fort was in the right hands.

She said: “On Friday, September 18, the Port of Milford Haven completed on the sale of Hubberston Fort to local businessman Guy Anderson.

“The fort has been in the Port’s ownership for many years, forming a special part of the area’s rich history, and we have worked tirelessly to secure it in order to protect members of the public from coming to any harm.

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“Over the years we have considered a range of options for Hubberston Fort, but none of these have been commercially viable.

“Guy Anderson is hoping to partially open the fort to the public in the next couple of years as a managed ruin.

“In 2000, he bought the South West Gun Tower to convert into his home, then 5 years ago he purchased the Paterchurch Tower in Pembroke Dock to renovate.

“Guy’s passion and experience in historic buildings means we are confident that Hubberston Fort will be safeguarded for the future."

Mr Anderson will be looking for volunteers for the project, anyone who is interested can contact him at martelloguy@hotmail.com