Monday, August 8, 2011

Fort Stamford & Mount Battern Tower–Plymouth

An interesting walk to the eastern side of Plymouth Harbour where I came across Fort Stamfort and Mount Batten.

Fort Stamford was an artillery fort, built 1862-1869 for the defence of the south-east side of Plymouth. Built on the site of a Civil War Fort, Stamford was besieged and captured by the Royalists in 1643. The present fort was built as Fort Turnchapel and designed to cover the gap to Laira, the merchant ship anchorage at Jennycliff Bay on the western side of the harbour, and the north flank of Staddon Fort. An irregular five-sided structure with two single and a double caponier covering the rock-cut ditch. The proposed armament was seven 9-inch rifled muzzle loaders on the two seaward sides, thirteen guns on the land fronts, and six mortars in the salients.   It formed part of Plymouth harbour defences.

The fort remained in military use until 1956, although the armament was probably not modernised after 1893. It now appears to be a country club.

Mount Batten is a 24-metre-tall outcrop of rock on a 600-metre  peninsula in Plymouth Sound, Devon.  It appears to have been site of the earliest trade with Europe yet discovered in Britain, operating from the late Bronze Age, peaking in the late Iron Age and continuing in operation throughout the Roman period.

Later it became an important defensive point for the developing settlement at Plymouth Harbour, providing a field of fire from across the other side of the Cattewater, the channel connecting the old town to the sea. In 1652, Mount Batten Tower, a 30 foot high circular artillery fort was built on top.

The tower is 30 foot high with guns on top guarding the southern approach to Plymouth harbour and was built in 1652.  It is located across the water from Plymouth Fort (now the Citadel) and forms part of the harbour’s interlocking defences. It was designed to accommodate 10 guns on its roof and was in use during the Second World War with two Quick Firing guns.  There was a RAF flying boat base in the harbour beneath the Tower and there are two commemorative plaques at its base.  One recognises the Australian aircrew who operated from the base.

Whilst it can’t be seen from The Hoe, it is possible to see the seaward side of Drake Island from both Fort Stamford and Mount Battern Tower.

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