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Box Hill Fort: a London mobilisation centre

A Scheduled Monument in Box Hill and Headley, Surrey

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2498 / 51°14'59"N

Longitude: -0.3145 / 0°18'52"W

OS Eastings: 517731.965906

OS Northings: 151414.819276

OS Grid: TQ177514

Mapcode National: GBR HGB.R8S

Mapcode Global: VHGS1.HVM9

Entry Name: Box Hill Fort: a London mobilisation centre

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1973

Last Amended: 16 November 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018074

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31393

County: Surrey

Electoral Ward/Division: Box Hill and Headley

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Mickleham

Church of England Diocese: Guildford

Details

The monument includes the main compound of Box Hill London mobilisation
centre, situated on a chalk ridge of the Surrey Downs around 2km north east of
Dorking. The north west-south east aligned compound survives as a north east
facing, reinforced concrete and brick structure housing magazines and stores.
The flat-roofed structure has been the subject of some modern repairs and
consolidation. To the rear is a large, crescent-shaped earthen blast-bank
flanked by an outer ditch.
Associated with the main compound are the original caretaker's lodge and a
tool store situated around 110m to the south east. These have been altered and
extended and are in use as a visitor centre and offices, and are therefore not
included in the scheduling.
The information board and modern fencing on the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 15 London mobilisation centres, constructed during the 1890s, formed part
of a comprehensive military scheme known as the London Defence Positions,
drawn up in 1888 to protect the capital in the event of enemy invasion. The
scheme was a response to the rapid progress made in warship production by
France and Russia during the early 1880s, which had led to official doubts
about the Royal Navy's defence capability. Essentially a contingency plan, it
provided for the establishment of a 72 mile long, entrenched stop-line divided
into ten tactical sectors and supported by artillery batteries and redoubts.
The planned stop-line ran from the southern edge of the Surrey and Kent Downs,
up the western side of the Darenth Valley to the Thames, and then north
westwards through Essex from Tilbury Fort to Epping. Although the stop-line
and main defence positions were not to be established until an invasion was
imminent, it was thought prudent to build a series of mobilisation centres, 13
on new sites, along the projected course, either for artillery deployment or
where troops could assemble and collect tools and supplies. By 1905, official
confidence in the Royal Navy had been restored, and the now obsolete
mobilisation centres were abandoned and gradually sold off.
No two mobilisation centres are exactly alike, and a broad distinction can be
drawn between the four centres purpose built for artillery deployment, and
eight which functioned as infantry positions. However, in general terms there
are close similarities: each, for example, was typically enclosed by a
rampart, ditch and spiked fence, containing a partly earth-sheltered,
reinforced concrete and brick built magazine and stores. Beyond the main
compound were associated buildings of a standard type, including a brick
caretakers lodge and a large, barn-like tool store. Most mobilisation centres
have been the subject of subsequent alteration and/or reuse. As a short-lived
and rare monument type, all mobilisation centres with surviving remains
sufficient to give a clear impression of their original form and function are
considered to be nationally important.

Despite some modern consolidation and repair, the London mobilisation centre
on Box Hill survives comparatively well, retaining much evidence for the
construction and original use of the monument.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Smith, V, 'London Archaeologist' in The London Mobilisation Centres, , Vol. 2, 10, (1975), 244-248

Source: Historic England

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