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Puckpool mortar battery

A Scheduled Monument in Nettlestone and Seaview, Isle of Wight

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7259 / 50°43'33"N

Longitude: -1.1304 / 1°7'49"W

OS Eastings: 461476.635654

OS Northings: 92171.071092

OS Grid: SZ614921

Mapcode National: GBR 9CP.H15

Mapcode Global: FRA 87J5.7F8

Entry Name: Puckpool mortar battery

Scheduled Date: 17 June 1980

Last Amended: 25 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012721

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22042

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Nettlestone and Seaview

Built-Up Area: Ryde

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Oakfield St John

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth

Details

The monument includes a 19th century mortar battery and associated structures
on the north east coast of the Isle of Wight, facing across the Solent towards
Portsmouth.
The battery, entered via park gates at the south east corner of the site, has
a barrack, a large terre plein for mortars, magazines, and emplacements for
eight guns fronted by an earth parapet and wet moat. It is aligned along the
sea front and has maximum dimensions of c.390m north west-south east and
c.140m north east-south west. The original 19th century buildings are of brick
and granite with later building added in reinforced concrete.
The battery is defined by an earth rampart c.2m high and 10m wide with a moat
c.10m wide and c.5m deep on the seaward side and a concrete and brick
revetment to the rear. Beneath the rampart are magazines, while to the rear is
an isolated magazine protected by earthworks. There are a total of eight major
gun emplacements, three of which are built of brick with granite details. The
remaining gun emplacements are of reinforced concrete and represent later
additions to the battery. To the rear an earth bank c.2.5m high was
established to protect the mortar crews. On the east side a gateway
representing the original entrance partly remains. To the rear, on the south
side of the battery, some buildings are located which, although somewhat
altered, are the remains of the guardhouses, barracks and workshops.
In 1858 there was an invasion scare due to the build-up of the French navy.
The battery was begun in 1863 in response to the 1859 Commission report on the
Defences of the United Kingdom, and was completed in March 1865. It was built
to guard the deep water channel to the east of Ryde and formed the
southernmost defence in the line of forts across Spithead. Twenty-one 13 inch
mortars were mounted and platforms prepared on the ramparts for 11 light guns.
The mortars were positioned to fire bombs at the decks of hostile warships.
Plans were changed in 1868 and modified to mount 30 mortars, four 12 inch 25-
ton guns and a 7 inch Armstrong gun for flank defence. To the rear of the
battery was accommodation consisting of a small barrack for four officers and
67 men. There were emplacements for five barbette-mounted guns fronted by an
earth parapet and wet moat. In 1873 four 11 inch guns were installed. The
remainder of the battery was extensively rebuilt in 1898-1900, and the
emplacements still in good condition remained in use until the 1950s. The
battery shows traces of the 1860s work, rearmament in the 1870s and further
First and Second World War modifications.
The building at the west end of the moat, which is built partly over the moat
and the iron girders on which it sits, the tarmac surfaces, litter bins, post
and wire fences, the cages of the aviary which are built into the back of one
of the gun positions, the modern walls of the park, the cafe, and the park
gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of
these features is included. The gate posts which face onto the road at the
east end of the battery were part of an original entrance to it and are
included in the scheduling, but the wall inside the gate posts is excluded.
The gatehouse known as `The Lodge' and the building opposite it which is a
wireless museum are occupied buildings and are excluded from the scheduling as
is the habitable cottage which lies c.20m to the north west of the wireless
museum; the ground beneath these buildings is included. The two westernmost
surviving buildings are included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Royal Commission fortifications are a group of related sites established
in response to the 1859 Royal Commission report on the defence of the United
Kingdom. This had been set up following an invasion scare caused by the
strengthening of the French Navy.
These fortifications represented the largest maritime defence programme since
the initiative of Henry VIII in 1539-40. The programme built upon the
defensive works already begun at Plymouth and elsewhere and recommended the
improvement of existing fortifications as well as the construction of new
ones.
There were eventually some 70 forts and batteries in England which were due
wholly or in part to the Royal Commission. These constitute a well defined
group with common design characteristics, armament and defensive provisions.
Whether reused or not during the 20th century, they are the most visible core
of Britain's coastal defence systems and are known colloquially as
`Palmerston's follies'. All examples are considered of national importance.

Puckpool mortar battery survives well as a good example of its class. The
fabric of the battery is essentially complete. The battery represents the
southernmost defence in the line of forts across Spithead.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Hogg, I V, Coast Defences of England and Wales 1856-1956, (1974), 163-166

Source: Historic England

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