Captain Cowper Coles and ‘Palmerston’s Folly’
The Portsdown and Spithead forts have been mocked as ‘Palmerston’s Folly’ for nearly two centuries. The project of construction of these ports was initiated by a royal commission in 1860 for the purpose of defending the coast of England from the attack by France. Captain Cowper Coles and his supporters, proclaiming the necessity of building low-draught armoured turret-ships, launched an vehement attack to prevent these forts from ever being built. Nevertheless, the construction of these forts went forward, and none of them ever saw a shot fired in anger. However, the only implication might be that it is better to have too much strength than too little.