Heugh coastal artillery battery immediately north west of Heugh Lighthouse


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.

Hartlepool (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NZ 53172 33886

Reasons for Designation

The use of fixed artillery to protect the coast from hostile ships is one of the oldest practices in the history of England's defences. From the 15th century until the second half of the 20th century, coastal artillery provided home security as well as protecting communications and trade networks across Britain's empire. During this time batteries of fixed guns formed the first line of defence for the navy's anchorages and the larger commercial ports. Apart from a brief period early in World War II, when improvised batteries formed a continuous cordon around the coast, England's modern stock of coast artillery sites was dominated by positions originating before 1900. Coast artillery was finally stood down in 1956. Four classes of 20th century coastal batteries can be identified: anti-motor torpedo boat batteries; defended ports, within which were counter-bombardment, close defence and quick-firing batteries; emergency batteries of World War II; and temporary and mobile artillery. Unlike other classes of World War II monuments, these coastal batteries display considerable variation according to and the use of earlier fortifications; the types of gun housed on these sites; and their precise function. Primary sources examined as part of a national study of 20th century fortifications indicate that in the period 1900-56, 286 locations in England were occupied by 301 separate batteries, of which there is now no trace of at least 115. Close defence batteries of the period 1900 to 1956 typically required a good field of view over the water by day and night and therefore high sites, well forward of the defended area, were preferred. The sites generally included three emplacements for 6 inch guns, a gun store, magazine and battery observation post. All examples where enough survives to illustrate the site's original form and function will be considered of national importance.

Heugh Battery's primary importance is historical. In the 20th century there were only two engagements between British coastal artillery and enemy ships. Heugh Battery was involved in the first, the only action in World War I (the second being in 1942 involving South Foreland Battery at Dover). Heugh Battery also retains a range of well-preserved features including two designs of gun emplacements which adds to the monument's importance.


The monument includes the standing, earthwork and associated buried remains of one of the coastal artillery batteries that defended Hartlepool harbour until after World War II. It lies between Heugh Lighthouse and the Town Moor. It does not include the closely associated Lighthouse Battery that, before it was levelled, stood immediately to the south of the lighthouse. These two batteries were the only coastal batteries in Britain to engage enemy ships in World War I.

A map of 1740 shows the outline of a fortification labelled Southys Point Battery roughly in the area later occupied by Heugh Battery. An 1841 town plan shows that this fortification had ceased to exist, but does show one of simpler outline called East Battery just to the south. In August 1855, this approximate area was leased as Lighthouse Battery which initially had six guns, but was rebuilt in 1857 for two 68 pounder guns. Heugh Battery was first leased in December 1859 and by 1864 had four 68 pounders. In 1890 it was rebuilt for three guns with Lighthouse Battery being rebuilt the following year for a single 6 inch gun. Between 1899 and 1900, Heugh was modified again, at a cost of just over 4000 pounds, to take two quick firing guns. In December 1902, Heugh was armed with two 6 inch mark VII breach loading guns, with a single mark VI gun at Lighthouse which was upgraded to a mark VII by 1914. It was with these three guns that three German ships were engaged on the morning of 16th December 1914. Battlecruisers Seydlitz and Moltke and the Heavy Armoured Cruiser Blucher shelled the batteries and other targets in Hartlepool from 8:15 am for nearly 40 minutes, killing over 100 civilians and injuring a further 400. Two shells exploded between the batteries, killing seven soldiers, but the German ships failed to disable the British guns. Contemporary reports suggested that the ships fired shells with delayed action fuses that merely bounced off the concrete aprons of the batteries, and then exploded amongst the houses to the rear. The gun at Lighthouse Battery developed a fault and only fired 15 rounds whilst Heugh dispatched 108 rounds in response to the 500-1000 rounds fired by the ships. About eight British rounds hit their targets causing minor damage to all three ships, but this is thought to have been enough to cause the bombardment to have been cut short. This was the first and last time that the batteries engaged an enemy, but they continued to function as a deterrent. The batteries were maintained between the World Wars and re-entered active service, manned by Territorial Army units of the Durham Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery. By 1942 at the latest the gun layout on the headland had been rearranged. Heugh Battery fire control had charge of the gun at the old Lighthouse Battery and a second gun some 200m to the north west, whilst Heugh's southern gun emplacement had been decommissioned. In November 1943 Heugh's role was defined as being that of a part-time examination battery along with the South Gare Battery at the mouth of the Tees. Examination batteries were designed to guard against surprise attacks using merchant ships. In September 1944 even this potential threat was deemed unlikely and Heugh Battery was taken out of active service and reduced to care and maintenance. In August 1947 the two guns of the original Heugh Battery were selected for retention as part of the nation's post-war layout of coastal defences. The site was finally decommissioned no later than the end of 1956 when coastal artillery was finally abandoned as part of Britain's defences.

The monument includes the full extent of Heugh Battery as defined by contemporary plans. The site of Lighthouse Battery has been cleared and is thus not included, although buried remains of its magazines and other features probably still survive. Heugh battery retains two gun pits of slightly differing designs. Close to the centre of the monument is the southern emplacement for No.2 Gun. This appears to be the same as that shown on a plan dated 1906. The second emplacement lies 30m NNE. This has a larger central pit and surrounding apron. This emplacement appears to follow the design shown on an undated plan of a proposed modification to the battery. This plan depicts alterations to both emplacements to allow the guns to fire at an elevation of 45 degrees, thus extending their range. However, presumably only No.1 Gun was so modified. To the rear of No.1 Gun there is a high concrete wall which is also not shown on the 1906 plan and is thus a later addition. This wall may have been designed to provide protection to the gun and crew from infantry attack from the rear. Buried between the two emplacements is the battery's magazine that also saw some modifications sometime after 1906. Rare surviving features at Heugh include in situ shell hoists linking the magazine to the emplacements above. The concrete structure 20m to the south of No.2 Gun is the Battery Observation Post. This overlies the remains of an earlier observation post that is shown on the 1906 plan. Just to the south was a machine-gun emplacement with its own underground magazine, and partly exposed just inside the Battery's fence, is a concrete block with an iron loop which is interpreted as an anchor point for a barrage balloon. The front of the battery, facing the sea to the east, is protected by a glacis, a gentle slope of sand and earth designed to deflect shot or absorb its impact. This is also included in the monument. To the rear of the guns this glacis is supported by a retaining wall that is partly stone built and partly concrete, showing several phases of modifications. To the west of this wall was the parade ground surrounded by a number of auxiliary buildings. Only one of these still survives, at the south end of the monument, and is shown on the 1906 plan to be a barrack room for 13 men. Remains of the other buildings are thought to be represented by scaring in the western boundary wall and as foundations beneath modern tarmac. Adjacent to the standing building is a surviving section of the battery's boundary wall topped with curved iron spikes. This is also included in the monument.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling: these are the modern grillwork designed to prevent unauthorised access to the underground magazine, as well as the boarding covering doors, windows and other openings, the observation post concrete stairway, all fencing and boundary walling that dates to after the abandonment of the battery, as well as modern tarmac surfacing and interpretation panels. However, the ground beneath all 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
Ward, J M , Dawn Raid: The Bombardment of the Hartlepools, (1989)
Dobinson, CS , Twentieth Century Fortifications in England Coast Artillery, 2000, CBA typescript report


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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