Ancient Monuments

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Bouldnor Battery

A Scheduled Monument in Shalfleet, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.71 / 50°42'36"N

Longitude: -1.4647 / 1°27'52"W

OS Eastings: 437890.642663

OS Northings: 90180.743192

OS Grid: SZ378901

Mapcode National: GBR 78S.GHF

Mapcode Global: FRA 77T6.H5W

Entry Name: Bouldnor Battery

Scheduled Date: 20 April 1982

Last Amended: 5 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010011

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22028

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Shalfleet

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Shalfleet St Michael the Archangel

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes the emplacements, shell stores and troop shelter of
a 20th century close defence coastal battery, and a pillbox, associated
with the defence of Portsmouth and situated on the north west coast of the
Isle of Wight. It lies on a north west facing slope overlooking the
western entrance to the Solent. This battery, for two 6 inch Mark VII
breech loading guns, was built in 1938 to cover a new examination
anchorage east of Yarmouth. The scheduling falls into two separate areas
of protection: one containing the emplacements and associated structures;
the other the defensive pillbox.
The battery has two emplacements separated by a buried troop shelter, and
two buried magazines, one to the west of the western emplacement, and one
to the east of the eastern emplacement. These buried components are no
longer accessible, but do survive below ground and are represented on the
surface by an earthwork up to 0.5m high. The underground magazines are
connected to the emplacements by ammunition lifts which are located in the
flanks of each of the emplacements. In the western emplacement is a painted
diagram of battleships, for target practice recognition. During 1940 a
concrete air defence cover was placed over each of the emplacements.
The emplacements and associated structures form part of what is a much
larger battery, the plan form of which can still be traced through the
road layout, which extends for about 1km down to the main road, and by the
presence of some other buildings or their footings and foundations. The
battery observation post, west of the western magazine, has been demolished
and replaced with a modern structure. Also, two searchlight positions,
forward of the emplacements, are no longer visible, along with the huts
representing garrison accommodation and built on the site in the winter of
1939-40. One further building that does survive is the defensive pillbox, of
hexagonal plan, that guards the site's entrance 100m south of the
emplacements. This pillbox is included in the scheduling.
The battery was built on blue slipper clay and soon after their construction
the searchlight positions began to slide into the sea. As a result the battery
ceased to operate in December 1942, although a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun
was added in January 1944. Although the guns and searchlights were finally
removed in 1947, the battery was reactivated in September 1951 when two 6 inch
guns from Cliffe End were installed. On the disbandment of coast artillery,
all equipment was removed in January 1957.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The use of fixed artillery to protect the coast from hostile ships is one
of the oldest practices in the history of England's defences. From the
15th century until the second half of the 20th century, coastal artillery
provided home security as well as protecting communications and trade
networks across Britain's empire. During this time batteries of fixed guns
formed the first line of defence for the navy's anchorages and the larger
commercial ports. Apart from a brief period early in World War II, when
improvised batteries formed a continuous cordon around the coast,
England's modern stock of coast artillery sites was dominated by positions
originating before 1900. Coast artillery was finally stood down in 1956.
Four classes of 20th century coastal batteries can be identified:
anti-motor torpedo boat batteries; defended ports, within which were
counter-bombardment, close defence and quick-firing batteries; emergency
batteries of World War II; and temporary and mobile artillery. Unlike
other classes of World War II monuments, these coastal batteries display
considerable variation according to and the use of earlier fortifications;
the types of gun housed on these sites; and their precise function.
Primary sources examined as part of a national study of 20th century
fortifications indicate that in the period 1900-56, 286 locations in
England were occupied by 301 separate batteries, of which there is now no
trace of at least 115.
Close defence batteries of the period 1900 to 1956 typically required a
good field of view over the water by day and night and therefore high
sites, well forward of the defended area, were preferred. The sites
generally included three emplacements for 6 inch guns, a gun store,
magazine and battery observation post. All examples where enough survives
to illustrate the site's original form and function will be considered of
national importance.

The Solent, with its proximity to Europe, its natural berthing facilities
and the naval base at Portsmouth, has had an important military strategic
role since at least the 16th century, with the result that a large and
diverse group of features has developed specifically for the purpose of
coastal defence. Bouldnor Battery forms an integral part of this group and
is one of eleven contemporary fortifications associated with the defence
of the Needles Passage. The construction of this battery with only two
emplacements represents an unusual arrangement.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cantwell, A, Sprack, P, Solent Papers Number Two The Needles Defences 1525-1956, (1986), 33-34

Source: Historic England

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