Sandown Barrack Battery


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


Ordnance survey map of Sandown Barrack Battery
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 12:29:54.


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

Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SZ 59423 83717

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.

Sandown Barrack Battery survives well as a series of standing structures, earthworks and buried deposits. The battery retains many of its original fixtures and fittings. Together with contemporary documentary sources relating to the battery, the remains will offer an insight into late 19th century military architecture, engineering practices and strategy.


The monument includes Sandown Barrack Battery, a 19th century Royal Commission coastal battery situated on the cliff top approximately 2km south west of Sandown Fort. Sandown Barrack Battery was one of three batteries recommended by the 1860 Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom to be built around Sandown Bay in order to prevent seaborne landings and offer additional support to Sandown Fort. Construction started in 1861 and was completed in 1863 at a cost of 6,233 pounds.

The battery was rectilinear in plan, with the cliff edge open and the sides and rear enclosed by a dry moat containing a loopholed brick carnot wall which was flanked at both corners by open musketry caponiers. Entry to the battery was via a drawbridge and gate on the landward side, protected by loopholed demi bastions projecting from the carnot wall. The northern demi-bastion was also used as the cookhouse and guardroom, whilst the southern demi-bastion functioned as an artillery store. Other brick buildings constructed against the inner face of the landward carnot wall included a smith's shop, machine gun store, artillery general store, coal bunker, ablutions room, a war shelter for 12 men and a cartridge and shell store. The battery initially mounted five 7 inch rifled breech loader (RBL) guns in concrete emplacements, superceded in 1872 by 64 pounder rifled muzzle loaders (RML). In 1882 the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers Works Committee recommended the removal of two 10 inch RML guns from Sandown Fort to Barrack Battery. Two machine guns were added for close defence in 1892 but in 1893 the 10 inch RML guns were dismounted in favour of the two remaining 64 pounder RMLs, which in turn were replaced by two 12 pounder quick firing (QF) guns in 1898. Major rebuilding work began in 1900 with the construction of underground magazines and concrete emplacements within the centre of the battery to mount two 6 inch breech loaders (BL). The original magazines reverted to use as a battery command post and three emplacements were apparently demolished. Work was completed in 1903, but in 1905 the 12 pounder QF guns were relegated to training and finally in 1910 the 6 inch BL guns were put into reserve.

Following its abandonment by the military the battery was converted for use as a public park. Work involved the demolition to ground level of the 6 inch BL emplacements, mounding over of emplacements for the 12 pounder QF guns to form an ornamental rockery, the adaptation of the war shelter as public conveniences and the reuse of other buildings as storage areas and a cafeteria.

All services, structures, fixtures and fittings associated with the conversion of the battery for recreational and retail purposes and the public lavatories are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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
Saunders, A D, Fortifications of Portsmouth and the Solent, (1998), 134-135
Isle of Wight Council, 814,


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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