Gosport Heritage Action Zone (HAZ): An Assessment of Aerial Photographs and Lidar

Author(s): Fiona Small

The town of Gosport owes its origins and development to its association with the Royal Navy and the Naval dockyards at neighbouring Portsmouth established by Henry VIII. From the 15th century, when the earliest defences were built at the harbour mouth, a series of defended batteries and fortified lines have been constructed along the coast and within the town. The Gosport Heritage Action Zone is part of a partnership project undertaken to raise awareness of the historic environment of Gosport in order to inform the delivery of heritage-led regeneration of the town. The aerial investigation and mapping project, summarised in this report, complements other ground survey research by Historic England on selected archaeological sites, and research carried out on the historic fabric of the town itself. This report attempts to place the town in its historic context and investigate how its history, particularly the naval and military sites and defences have shaped the town we see today. Aerial photographs available to this project covered almost a century, documenting the changes to Gosport and its environs from the earliest aerial photograph taken in 1923 to the present day. They also capture remains of the town’s military defences from the 15th century to the Second World War, as well as fragments of settlement from earlier periods visible as cropmarks in and around the town. In particular, RAF aerial photographs taken during and after the Second World War offered a detailed view of the impact of that conflict on the town. The presence of the docks at Portsmouth and the naval installations, supply bases and airfields in and around Gosport made it a prime target throughout the war. Aerial photographs captured the installations, defences and a record of the catastrophic bomb damage suffered by the town. RAF photographs also record the preparations for the D-Day landings in Stokes Bay which was chosen as the site of one of the Mulberry Harbour manufacturing sites 1943-44. Post-war photographs recorded the subsequent emergency replacement housing in the form of prefabricated housing estates and the rapid construction of housing developments to address the housing shortage.

Report Number:
Research Department Reports
Defence First World War Practice Trench Second World War


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