Whitesand Bay (or Tregonhawke) battery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
St. John
National Grid Reference:
SX 40841 51489


Royal Commission fortification known as Whitsand Bay or Tregonhawke Battery.

Reasons for Designation

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'. 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. Although often contained within artillery forts designed to withstand sieges, typically including resident garrisons, many batteries were lightly defended and only manned at fighting strength in times of emergency.

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. The Royal Commission fortification known as Whitsand Bay or Tregonhawke Battery is an example of the intermediate step between building for muzzle and breech loading artillery and is therefore important for understanding the development of military engineering.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 December 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.

This monument includes a Royal Commission fortification battery situated above the coastal cliffs overlooking Chamber Rock almost in the centre of Whitsand Bay. The battery survives as a five-sided defended enclosure with concrete and earth built defences and a partially in-filled outer rock cut moat. Five gun emplacements are arranged symmetrically behind a thick sea facing rampart. Further emplacements on the north west and south east angles have brick lined vaulted tunnels with guard chambers leading out into the moat. Adjacent to the others are stores, steps leading down to a long connecting brick tunnel with magazines and further rooms leading off. Also within is a casemated barrack block and the entrance faces ENE. Many internal features and fittings also survive. The surviving buildings are largely brick built with stone copings. The battery was constructed between 1888 and 1890, originally called ‘Raleigh Battery’ and designed to house three long range guns to protect Devonport Dockyard with each flank having a flight of steps leading to a Range Finder. The guns were mounted in 1893 together with two further guns on hydro-pneumatic mountings which were removed in 1897. The surrounding moat was constructed in 1894 and revetted with a concrete wall and in turn protected by three octagonal concrete musketry caponiers. In 1906 there was a proposal to mount two large guns on the central two emplacements, and the remaining original guns were removed in 1912. The battery was not re-armed in the First or Second World Wars. However, Nissen huts and a possible radar station were built during the latter war within the north west part of the battery. In 1951 it was released by the Ministry of Defence.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
CO 978
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-437676


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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