WORLD WAR II PICKETT-HAMILTON FORT SU 4681 3512 (NO.1), WORTHY DOWN AIRFIELD

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1393762

Date first listed: 16-Apr-2010

Statutory Address: WORLD WAR II PICKETT-HAMILTON FORT SU 4681 3512 (NO.1), WORTHY DOWN AIRFIELD, CONNAUGHT ROAD

Map

Ordnance survey map of WORLD WAR II PICKETT-HAMILTON FORT SU 4681 3512 (NO.1), WORTHY DOWN AIRFIELD
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Location

Statutory Address: WORLD WAR II PICKETT-HAMILTON FORT SU 4681 3512 (NO.1), WORTHY DOWN AIRFIELD, CONNAUGHT ROAD

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

County: Hampshire

District: Winchester (District Authority)

Parish: South Wonston

National Grid Reference: SU 46710 35170

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The Pickett-Hamilton airfield fort at approximately SU 4681 3512, of c1940 at the former RAF Worthy Down Airfield, is listed for the following principal reasons: * A nationally rare four-man counterbalance Pickett-Hamilton design, * An intact example which retains its access hatches and internal structure.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details



70/0/10011 CONNAUGHT ROAD 16-APR-10 Worthy Down WORLD WAR II PICKETT-HAMILTON FORT SU 4681 3512 (NO.1), WORTHY DOWN AIRFIELD

GV II Pickett-Hamilton fort, circa 1940, at approximately SU 4681 3512, former RAF Worthy Down. A four-man counterbalance Pickett-Hamilton fort of concrete and steel.

EXTERIOR: Circular concrete form visible at ground level, approximately 3.7m in diameter comprising a central circular concrete roof to the lifting fort and outer concrete ring. Outer ring contains two metal access hatches, to the north and south and both with double doors.

INTERIOR: The hatches allow access to metal rungs in the external fort wall which can be used to climb down into the fort. The interior face of the external wall and the external form of the lifting fort show retention of gun loops as well as the fort's metal supports. Some debris and water ingress in the bottom of the fort.

HISTORY: From the summer of 1940 onwards airfields, and particularly those in the south and east of England, were provided with a suite of defences in order to defend them from attacking enemy craft and also to prevent airfield capture. These included perimeter pillboxes, machine gun posts, Bofors gun towers and slit trenches, and an airfield's defence would have been coordinated from its own Battle Headquarters building. Pickett-Hamilton forts were built as part of this wave of assemblage of defences by Messrs Francis Pickett and Donald Hamilton. Many were built by the New Kent Company of Ashford. They were usually constructed in groups of three and were located on the flying field. They were a type of pillbox that was unique to airfields, deliberately conceived to accommodate operational needs while providing a means of delivering firepower if required. Pickett-Hamilton forts were ingeniously designed so that they could remain flush with the ground surface to allow aircraft to move freely across the airfield, but could be manned and the forts raised to provide cross-fire in the event of an enemy attack. In cross-section they consisted of two reinforced concrete cylinders, one inside the other. The most common two-man design had a single access hatch through the roof of the central lifting fort. This was raised by a hand operated hydraulic jack to provide a 360 degree field of fire across the airfield. A rarer four-man counter-balance type worked on a similar principle but had two access hatches in the outer ring and a counter-balance mechanism for raising the fort. Approximately 240 Pickett-Hamilton forts were constructed in England of which only about a dozen were of the counterbalance form.

RAF Worthy Down was built on the site of the old Winchester Racecourse. Land was requisitioned by the War Office for the Wireless and Observers School of the Royal Flying Corps and opened in August 1918. It continued to be occupied by the RAF until May 1939 (having been the home of a number of Bomber Squadrons during the 1920s and 1930s) when it passed to the Navy and became HMS Kestrel occupied by Fleet Fighter Squadrons 800 and 803. After the war the station became a Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Centre before closing in 1950. It re-opened two years late as HMS Aerial II occupied by the Air Electrical School until late 1960 when the school left and the airfield closed. The site subsequently passed to the Royal Army Pays Corps who still occupy the camp to the east. The former airfield is now under arable cultivation.

SOURCES: Cobb, P, 1996, 'A Pickett-Hamilton Excavated', in Loopholes, the journal of the Pillbox Study Group, No 15, March 1996, pp7-11. http://ads/ahds/ac/uk/catalogue/specColl/dob Defence of Britain Project database. www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk/phfortpage.htm Pillbox Study Group website.

REASON FOR DESIGNATION: The Pickett-Hamilton airfield fort (at approximately SU 4681 3512), of c1940 at the former RAF Worthy Down Airfield, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * A nationally rare four-man counterbalance Pickett-Hamilton design, * An intact example which retains its access hatches and internal structure.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 505040

Legacy System: LBS

End of official listing