Battery at Eastern King Point.
Reasons for Designation
The term battery refers to any place where artillery is positioned to allow guns to cover a particular area such as a line of communication or the approaches to a defended location. Battery design evolved over time with developments in artillery. Gun positions protected by casemates (roofed gun chambers) were generally restricted to batteries within artillery forts and castles. The gun carriages were supported on timber or stone platforms known as barbettes, often ramped to limit gun recoil. In the 18th century, traversing guns using carriages mounted on pivots were increasingly employed. By the late 19th century, barbette positions became the usual practice and, as the century progressed, guns were mounted in increasingly sophisticated emplacements, normally built in concrete with integrated magazines. All batteries where enough survives to interpret the original form and function will be considered of national importance. The battery at Eastern King Point contains many original fittings and features which chart its long and complex development and it survives extremely well. It is still in use as a naval saluting battery, indicating its historical significance.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 15 October 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a battery situated at Eastern King Point overlooking Plymouth Sound. The battery survives as an irregular shaped structure including barracks, gun casemates, a keep, ancillary buildings, magazines, gun emplacements, galleries, curtain walls, caponiers, ditches and some internal fixtures and fittings which bear witness to several phases of modification and alteration. The first battery was built between 17th August 1779 and the 10th January 1780 on the orders of Col. Dixon to counter the threat posed by a Franco-Spanish fleet anchored in Cawsand Bay. It was armed with four guns mounted ‘en barbette’ and was intended to fire on the stern of any ship that rounded Drake’s Island and headed into the North Channel. The present battery was constructed in 1849, on the same site and was named ‘The Price of Wales Redoubt’ and was recommended by the 1844 Committee on Harbour Defences. The redoubt survives as an arrow shaped structure of limestone ashlar construction and internal brick vaulting. It has two sets of three single-storey barrack casemates, lying each side of two gun casemates with loop holed curtain walls attached to a two-storey fortified keep. There is a small magazine in the east wing and a further magazine in the keep. The roof has a stone parapet with blocked embrasures for eight guns. It is surrounded by a ditch which contains two musketry caponiers and is further defended by musketry galleries, loop holes in further buildings and a sally port. The gateway is monumental with a Royal crest and 1849 date stone and access was via flanked entrance to the north eastern outer gate. The redoubt was armed with at least nine guns and contains the earliest casemates in the Plymouth defences. Following a memo by the 1859 Royal Commission, between 1861–2 four ‘en barbette’ emplacements were built to the east and three to the west with bomb proof expense magazines and a guardroom and were further protected by a loop holed wall to the rear and a ditch (now in-filled), although only six emplacements survive. A sloping glacis extended towards the shoreline to fire on closer ships. In around 1900 a battery of four guns was built onto the roof of the redoubt for anti-torpedo defence which survive, one complete with store recesses, an original iron mounting plate, loading platform and guard rails. Ammunition was brought up via a double cantilevered 1849 granite stairway. The guns were dismounted in 1939 and replaced by at least one gun and an observation post which survives with iron doors and a viewing window. The four present Hotchkiss guns are in use as a naval saluting battery. Interior fittings include a lamp-window and shutter from 1849, fireplaces, tackle loops, architectural details and in the 1861 eastern battery the original wooden flooring.