Battery approximately 160m NE of East Weare Camp


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:

Statutory Address:
Off Incline Road, Isle of Portland, Dorset, DT5 1EG


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Statutory Address:
Off Incline Road, Isle of Portland, Dorset, DT5 1EG

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

Location Description:

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A large battery and magazine store with four gun positions originally constructed in the 1860s, altered during the 1880s and again at the end of the C19.

Reasons for Designation

The 1860s battery approximately 160m north-east of East Weare Camp, formerly known as Battery C, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * As a good example of a battery dating from the 1860s, with some architectural detailing and use of good quality Portland stone; * For the good degree of survival of historic fabric, and the legibility of its layout.

Historic interest: * As part of the C19 and earlier defences at East Weare, which played an important role in British naval history.

Group value: * As part of a complete naval base of considerable importance, specifically designed as the first safe anchorage for the replenishment of the navy's fleet of steam-driven warships; * Portland Harbour and the nearby coast of the Isle of Portland has a significant collection of designated assets associated with the military history of the area.


The area around Portland Harbour has historically been recognised as an important military strategic location. The advent of a steam-driven naval fleet in the early to mid-C19 necessitated the storage of large quantities of coal, not only at the Dockyards, but also at strategic locations determined by the bases of a likely enemy attack and the limited range of the steamship when using its engines alone. Portland, conveniently situated equidistant between Portsmouth and Plymouth and facing the French naval dockyard at Cherbourg, was established as the first naval anchorage specifically designed for the navy's fleet of steam-driven warships, and the necessary breakwaters and coaling facilities were an integral part of the scheme. Suggestions for fortifying the anchorage here were first put forward in 1835. An 1844 survey map of Portland, by surveyor John Taperell, shows the proposed breakwater structures of the scheme designed by the Admiralty's Chief Engineer, James Meadow Rendell. Preliminary works for the breakwaters began in 1847 with the formal construction of the inner breakwater being marked by a ceremony in which HRH Prince Albert laid the foundation stone on the 25th July 1849.

The defences at East Weare, to the south of Portland Harbour, were also developed around this time and the Verne Citadel fort (1857-1881) and East Weare Battery (1862-1869) were constructed. East Weare Camp was established around 1880 and from 1889 the rifle range was built. The building of Verne High Angle Battery in 1892 and Upton Fort in 1902 demonstrate the continuing importance of Portland as a strategic location.

Five batteries were completed at East Weare between 1862 and 1869; these were armed with 9in and 10in rifled muzzle loading (RML) guns, and varied in size and plan. They were arranged on the north east slopes of Portland, overlooking the harbour. A series of photographs taken in 1877 show the completed batteries as originally built, with gun positions located and magazine stores behind them, concealed by angular earth mounds.

Due to continually advancing technology, the batteries quickly became outdated and had been updated by 1886 to take C pivot 9in RMLs. Towards the end of the C19 this battery, known as C Battery, was altered again so that the two centre gun positions took 10in RMLs.


A large battery with magazine store and four gun positions originally constructed in the 1860s, altered during the 1880s and again at the end of the C19.

MATERIALS: the magazine stores and gun positions are constructed of stone, with some later alterations in concrete. The stores are concealed under a large earth mound.

PLAN: the magazine is roughly square on plan with a central corridor running north-south, accessed from the south. The four gun positions lie to the east of this.

EXTERIOR: the exterior of the magazine stores is mostly concealed by the earth mound. The gun positions to the east are aligned roughly north-south with roughly equal distances between them, and are connected by a substantial stone wall. This wall has square recesses along its length. The gun positions have sections of both stone and concrete, and some retain iron tethering rings and mounts.

INTERIOR: the magazine is entered through a door on its south side, which opens into a wide corridor with stone walls and brick vaulted ceilings. Off the corridor are smaller rooms which were used as a shell store and cartridge store. These rooms have their original doors surviving. There is a lamp passage to the rear.


Victorian Forts Datasheet on East Weare, accessed 7.6.17 from
English Heritage, 'Thematic Survey of English Naval Dockyards, Summary Report. Thematic Listing Programme' (1998), (available at
Keystone (Historic Building Consultants), 'The Portland Naval Base, Dorset K/428', Volume 1 and Volume 2. 1993


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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