Stack Rock Fort – Milford Haven, Wales - Atlas Obscura

Stack Rock Fort

Milford Haven, Wales

This 19th-century island fort built to protect against an invasion by sea is now up for sale.  


Stack Rock Fort sits on a rocky island about 800 yards off the western coast of Wales near Milford Haven. Built between 1850 and 1852 and later upgraded, it has spent years empty and up for sale, awaiting a new lease on life.

The original idea for a fort on Stack Rock actually goes back to Thomas Cromwell and 1539. The English lawyer, statesman and chief minister to King Henry VIII proposed the fortification of the island to protect the Milford Haven Waterway (a natural harbor), but nothing ever came of the plan. Similar proposals and surveys of the island followed in 1748 and 1817, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that any plan came to fruition.

The Royal Dockyard at Pembroke Dock, located along the Milford Haven Waterway, was deemed in need of further defenses against attack from the sea, especially in light of a possible invasion of Britain from France under Napoleon III. Due to its strategic location near the mouth of the waterway, Stack Island was once again in the spotlight, and construction of a fort was completed in 1852.

The original three-gun fort housed three 32-pounder guns, with one 12-pounder for protection of the walls of the dock. The circular fort was upgraded a few years later, and several rifled muzzle loader guns were installed. It was again extended in 1870, after which it could hold a garrison of 150 troops. The fort’s importance waned, however, and only a skeleton staff remained. During World War I, it was manned by just a small number of soldiers, with only two QF guns remaining. It was disarmed in 1929.

Stack Rock Fort was first put up for sale in 1932, at which time it sold for £160. It was again listed for sale in 2015, this time for £150,000, but it proved to be a tricky place to sell. Considering the island location, and the lack of sewage, water, and power, it’s perhaps unsurprising that no one jumped at the chance to buy the dilapidated fort despite the attractive price.

In 2018, the fort was once again put on the market, but again, no buyers. The Grade-II listed building last went on sale in July 2019, this time at auction for £295,000. At the time of writing, it still remains on the market. So if you like the idea of buying an island fort complete with gun towers, ideal for surviving the zombie apocalypse but in need of some work, then Stack Rock Fort might be just the place for you.

Know Before You Go

Stack Rock Fort is located near the mouth of Milford Haven Waterway in West Wales. The fort is privately owned, so access is only possible with the permission of the owner, and any visits would have to be arranged in advance.