Puckpool mortar battery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Puckpool mortar battery
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
Nettlestone and Seaview
National Grid Reference:
SZ 61465 92188

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'. 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.


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.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


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


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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