Lodge Hill Anti-aircraft Battery

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1401714
Date first listed:
27-Jun-2012
Location Description:
Lodge Hill at TQ 75850 74047

Map

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Location

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

Location Description:
Lodge Hill at TQ 75850 74047
District:
Medway (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Cooling
District:
Medway (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
High Halstow
District:
Medway (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Hoo St. Werburgh
National Grid Reference:
TQ7582174132

Summary

Anti-aircraft Battery, constructed from late 1912- early 1914, Lodge Hill Ordnance Depot. Used in part for domestic purposes in the 1920s. Modified and re-armed during World War Two.

Reasons for Designation

Lodge Hill Anti-aircraft Battery is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity and early date: a rare First World War anti-aircraft battery which, with its partner site at Beacon Hill, are believed to be the earliest purpose-built anti-aircraft batteries in Britain; * Survival: a battery which survives very well given its early date although with some inevitable minor losses; * Archaeological potential: the associated earthworks have the potential to enhance our understanding of this rare site type and later re-defensive programmes; * Documentary potential/historic interest: the site has the potential to significantly enhance our understanding of the development and operation of anti-aircraft batteries during the First World War, a site type which was to be developed and used to particular effect in the Second World War; * Group value: with a group of Grade II listed sentry posts at Lodge Hill and Chattenden which are contemporary and therefore part of a scheme of First World War defence for the two ordnance depots.

History

The Lodge Hill Anti-aircraft (AA) Battery is one of the world’s first permanent anti-aircraft defences, as is that at its partner site at nearby Beacon Hill. Documentary sources of 1914 confirm that these two Hoo Peninsula batteries were the first batteries where anti-aircraft guns were permanently mounted in Britain: any earlier anti-aircraft positions being either of a temporary nature or using moveable guns. Contemporary survivals are extremely rare nationally, one example is located on the breakwater at Portland in Dorset and another may survive on the Chatham Lines in Kent, but the Lodge Hill Battery, as well as its claims to primacy, is probably the best surviving example nationally of First World War date.

THE NEED TO DEFEND CHATTENDEN/LODGE HILL Lodge Hill Anti-aircraft (AA) Battery was built with other structures to defend the Royal Naval Ordnance depots at Chattenden/Lodge Hill immediately prior to and during the First World War. The depots were constructed from 1872 onwards to store gunpowder and other ordnance for the Royal Navy, supplementing an earlier depot at Upnor on the River Medway where expansion was not a possibility. The administrative and residential buildings at Chattenden were completed by 1875 with the Chattenden Magazine Enclosure built by 1877. The Lodge Hill Ordnance Depot followed in 1899 to provide storage for cordite, the new principal smokeless propellant for munitions which required different forms of storage building from gunpowder. The site continued to expand in the early C20 with the addition of laboratories for cartridge filling, the construction of additional cordite and expense magazines (small magazines in which a supply of ammunition is stored for immediate use) and also a large filled shell store for holding up to 6,300 tons of ammunition. The prospect of Zeppelin raids along the Medway led to the establishment of an anti-aircraft battery at Lodge Hill (memorandums relating to the construction and armament of a temporary emplacement at Lodge Hill, pre-dating the permanent structures, survive dating to late 1912 and early 1913) as well as a block house and battery at Beacon Hill to the south (the block house is scheduled as part of the Beacon Hill monument NHLE 1011767). These were the first purpose-built emplacements where anti-aircraft guns were to be mounted permanently in Britain. In addition a series of sentry posts were constructed at strategic locations around the depots in anticipation of enemy attack. These structures are listed at Grade II.

THE 'GREAT RACE' Prior to the First World War it was the Navy that was the primary means of national defence. Methods of defence against aerial attack as well as the need to protect key installations, such as the ordnance depots at Chattenden/Lodge Hill, was increasingly recognised during the ‘Great Race’ as the French, German and British navies vied for supremacy in their pursuit of improved explosive technologies in the build-up to the First World War. Initially the threat came from zeppelin airships with enemy aeroplanes used from 1917 onwards. The Lodge Hill battery was manned by the Army as was the norm at the time, despite protecting a naval ordnance establishment.

TEMPORARY EMPLACEMENTS AT LODGE HILL Anti-aircraft defences for Chattenden/Lodge Hill were being discussed as early as August 1912. Documents in the National Archives and referred to in English Heritage (2010) indicate that temporary emplacements and guns were set up here by mid-January 1913, placed close to the site of the proposed permanent battery with Lodge Hill House, to the west of the battery (and demolished some time after the Second World War), identified as an observation post for the Battery Commander. Initially the four 6 inch breech load howitzers were held in store, but by April 1913 had been mounted on site. The Royal Garrison Artillery gunners lived in tents and a large wooden shed at Lodge Hill. The English Heritage research report (2010, 7) suggests circa 35 men to man Lodge Hill comprising 11 to man each gun with the remaining 13 for command, communications, range and height-finding and ground defence.

PERMANENT EMPLACEMENTS The permanent emplacements were under construction in February 1913 but were not completed until the following year. Two purpose-made 3 inch quick-firing (QF) and two 1 pounder Pom-Pom (also QF) guns arrived and were permanently mounted in the Chattenden/Lodge Hill area by April 1914, one of each for the AA batteries at Lodge Hill and Beacon Hill. By July 1914 the barrack block and ammo/artillery store at Lodge Hill was completed. A new road was built to provide a metalled approach to the battery and is shown on pre-war maps. (The battery is shown on maps and a detailed War Office plan of 1914.) By January 1915 there were two 3 inch QF guns at Lodge Hill. The Approved Armaments return of June 1917 indicates that the battery had been abandoned by that date and the guns redeployed as it was no longer listed as part of the Thames and Medway AA defences.

THE BATTERY AFTER THE FIRST WORLD WAR In the 1920s the artillery store was used as a cottage suggesting that the site was not in military occupation in the inter-war years. However, during the Second World War the site was incorporated into a large compound which extended to include Lodge Hill House, including a Light Anti-Aircraft battery. A Z-battery of AA rocket launchers was also built but to the west of Lodge Hill Battery. These modifications may indicate that Lodge Hill area was a strong point associated with the Hoo stop-line. The First World War battery experienced modification including alterations to existing buildings, the partial demolition of the southern gun emplacement and the erection of new structures. These modifications will be described further below. The compound was dismantled immediately after the war and the battery site appears to have been unused since that time, other than for agricultural purposes.

The site was subject to archaeological survey by English Heritage in 2006.

Details

The site for the Lodge Hill AA Battery was carefully chosen to exploit a prominent ridge with far reaching views over the Thames estuary to the north. Its sister battery at Beacon Hill was located to its south, also on a prominent hill overlooking the River Medway to the south and south-east. Between them they protected the ordnance depots and the approaches along the two rivers.

The Lodge Hill Battery was diamond-shaped with its long axis broadly north-south, clearly shown on plans of the early C20. In the centre of the diamond is the Ammunition, Artillery Store and Officers’ Quarters flanked to the north and south by the two gun emplacements. The war shelter is at the point of the diamond to the east and the defensible barracks in the opposing position to the west. Associated earthworks and building platforms are located north, east and south of the main battery.

NORTH GUN EMPLACEMENT This emplacement was for the 3 inch QF gun. It is a circular concrete emplacement 31 ft 9in (9.68m) in diameter with a central 18ft (5.5m) diameter gun floor surrounded by a perimeter path allowing access to the four ready-use lockers within the parapet wall. Three of these, to the north, east and west survive in part with the latter in the best condition and are 4 ft wide (1.21m) by 2ft 5 inches (0.74m) deep. This has a visible steel frame, double heavy-gauge steel doors on pintle hinges with stout locking bars. All have steel mesh reinforcement to their roofs. The gun floor is partly obscured by dumping but the position of the central gun holdfast is evident although the holdfast itself has been removed. The gun floor was part encircled by a metal hand rail, a small portion of which survives to the north. The parapet wall survives in part and contains slots for a continuous shelf (now removed) which acted as an elbow rest for the use of riflemen in the defence of the emplacement.

SOUTH GUN EMPLACEMENT This emplacement was for the 1 pounder QF Pom-Pom gun. It is of the same form and size as the northern emplacement although does not survive in as good a condition. The gun floor is largely obscured by later dumping but is presumed to survive in situ. Evidence for three out of four ready-use ammunition lockers. The parapet wall has been largely levelled although its foundations and thus position remains visible.

WAR SHELTER The war shelter is located at the eastern point of the diamond-shaped enclosure, projecting beyond the former fence-line to protect the eastern approaches and allow flanking fire. It is an early blockhouse or pillbox type structure. Constructed of reinforced concrete it is an irregular but symmetrical hexagon in plan with a flat roof which has a slight overhang at the eaves. The entrance is to the west and has two armoured steel doors on pintle hinges with an external locking bar and bolts. This is flanked by a pair of windows with timber frames that could be secured by internal steel shutters (marked by pintle hinges and locking toggles). The east wall has a large horizontal embrasure and other elevations contain small angled loop-holes for small arms.

The interior is subdivided by a T-shaped ricochet wall. The floor is concrete overlaid with timber boards. There is a rectangular steel skylight with thick glass cells. Internal paint schemes survive, namely whitewash overlaid by blue-green paint to loop-hole level and cream. A small area has been overpainted in red. A ‘No Smoking’ sign is painted above the embrasure which may be of First World War date. Alternatively it could relate to a Second World War re-use of the building as an ammo store (The English Heritage 2010 report points out that given the entrance locking bars are external, they are presumably secondary.)

DEFENSIBLE BARRACK The defensible barrack is located at the western point of the diamond-shaped enclosure and like the war shelter projected beyond the fence line to allow flanking fire. It is a most peculiar-shaped building, almost a zig-zag plan. It is a single storey structure in red brick English bond with a flat, reinforced concrete roof which is covered in asphalt and overhangs at the eaves. The positions of former downpipes are evident. Window and doorway heads and cills are in cast concrete, some with moulded chamfers. The walls have ceramic airbricks at the eaves and there is evidence for telephone wire ceramic insulators. The building has covered entrances to the north and south of the barrack room shared with the ablutions and cookhouse respectively. There is a separate access to the north latrine. Internally the central large room formed the barracks with ablutions to the south and the cookhouse and latrine to the north. The barracks are lit by five windows to the west and two to the east, six were box sashes (which have traces of green painted overpainted in burgundy). The exception is the central west window which was originally a door into a flanking west chamber, demolished pre-May 1944 according to aerial photographic evidence. The broken brickwork where this chamber joined the barracks has been made good with render on the building’s west elevation. No traces of its foundations were visible when the site was surveyed in 2006. Most of the windows were protected by external paired steel shutters on pintle hinges, secured internally. Each shutter has a small rifle loop with a hinged cover. The shutters only cover two-thirds of each window with a gap at the top. This suggests that they were re-used from elsewhere although the English Heritage survey suggests that they are an early, First World War, insertion. At one stage partitions were added to divide up the barrack room, traces of which survive. There are two fireplaces, to the east and the south, inserted in that order although the dates of these are not clear. The large Reinforced Steel Joists which support the roof are exposed.

The small cookhouse was rendered and whitewashed internally and contains a base in the north-west corner for an oven or range.

The latrine block projects from the main building and contains a lobby and two cubicle latrines. All the windows have concrete heads and cills. The woodwork was all originally green painted and subsequently overpainted in red. Both latrines have blocked external bucket apertures with segmental-arches. This blocking and repainting are presumed to be of Second World War date.

The ablution room contains a large fireplace in its north wall. This is brick built with ghosts of a former wooden mantel and surround. The walls of the room also exhibit several layers of historic paintwork. Water pipes and tiling for a former basin/sink survive.

AMMUNITION, ARTILLERY STORE & OFFICER QUARTERS This building stands at the centre of the former diamond-shaped enclosure. It is a single storey structure, oriented west-east and constructed of red brick English bond with a reinforced concrete slab roof. Window and door heads and cills are concrete. It is tripartite in plan comprising a western ammunition store, central artillery store and eastern officers’ quarters. Although the building is largely rectangular in plan there is a projecting south-east wing housing ablutions.

The ammo store has a north and a south entrance (the latter enlarged, the former retaining its original wooden frame for paired double-doors). It has ceramic ventilators at the eaves and a concrete floor (possibly secondary) containing a steel rain trap.

The artillery store had both a north and south entrance (the former now infilled in brick) and metal-framed multi-light casement window. That to the south has a secondary steel plate shutter which is presumed to be of Second World War date. The floor is of earth in contrast to the ceiling which has floral and a star-shaped stencilled motifs in burgundy paint presumably dating from the 1920s cottage use of the building. There is also a concrete stove base which is not original. An inserted door provides access to the adjacent officers’ quarters.

The main room of the officers’ quarters is whitewashed and lit by two box sash windows to the north and south which retain traces of their green paint scheme (also seen in the doorways to the ablutions block). The floor is again of earth and there is a small brick fireplace set on an angle in the south-east corner. This has a segmental brick arch and ghosts of a former wooden surround in the mortar. The ablutions block contains two cubicles, one a latrine and one for washing.

ANCILLARY FEATURES To the east of the south gun emplacement are a series of earthwork features. These lie outside of the diamond-shaped First World War enclosure. Their function is not yet fully understood but these may be the remains of the temporary gun position of 1913. There is a well formed-platform here as would be required to mount a temporary gun, and, in addition, Second World War aerial photographic evidence indicates that by that date these earthworks were grassed-over.

Immediately north-east of the northern gun emplacement are two concrete building platforms of Second World War date (the buildings were erected in support of the LAA battery). These support features are included in the scheduled area given their physical position in relation to the northern emplacement; but are not of national importance in their own right. However, they are part of the later re-modelling of the site during Second World War. (A further pair of Second World War concrete building platforms to the north-west are not included in the scheduling.)

A group of Second World War slit trenches are located to the north-east of the war shelter.

North of the battery is an LAA gun emplacement and a machine-gun pit, both of which survive as earthwork features although it is probable that the concrete structures survive as buried features. The LAA is clearly shown as operational on Second World War aerial photographs. All these features, including the Second World War slit trenches mentioned above, are included in the scheduling.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The scheduling comprises two areas of protection. The main area includes the diamond-shaped battery as well as related outlying earthworks and features. In the west and south of the site the scheduled area boundary follows a north-south and a west-east field boundary respectively, the southern boundary being situated to the immediate north of Lodge Hill Lane. The east boundary runs parallel to the west at a distance of 75m from it to incorporate earthwork features to the east and south-east of the main battery. The northern boundary follows a west-east field boundary to the north of the main battery.

An outlying second scheduled area to the north-east includes evidence of the Second World War period re-defence of the site with a Light Anti-aircraft battery and associated features. This has a maximum extent of 35m north-south and 25m west-east. LAA emplacements survive less well than their heavy counterparts nationally given their more slight physical form and therefore this example, given its good survival and association with a rare battery type, is included in the scheduling.

All field boundaries and animal feed troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

Sources

Books and journals
Saunders, A, Smith, V, Kent's Defence Heritage, (2001), Site KD200
Other
English Heritage, Lodge Hill Anti-aircraft battery , 2010,
Lowe, J, Built Heritage Baseline Assessment in respect of Chattenden Barracks and Lodge Hill, Medway, Kent , 2009,
Title: War Office 6" Map of the Chatham field defences Source Date: 8 Nov 1914 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

Legal

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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