Page 2 - Bristol Defences
P. 2

Victorian Forts                                             Bristol Channel                  1

                                          Steep Holm Island

          Commenced            18th November 1865                   Armament
          Completed            July 1871
          Cost                  £  17,871                           1882 Mounted
          Map Reference        ST 229607                            10 x 7-inch RMLs Mk III
          Position             Bristol Channel off                  on dwarf ‘C ‘Pivot traversing platforms
          Type                 Fortified island                     WWII 1941 - 1945
          Ditch                None                                 4 x 6-inch B.L. ex-naval Mk VII or XI
          Guns                 10                                   6 x 40mm Bofors
          Barrack Accom. Approx 50                                  1 x Harvey Projector (Split Rock)
          Present use          Nature reserve (birds)

          History              World War II use as Coastal and
                               AA batteries
          Disposal             Army moved out 1901 & 1945
          Condition            Fair/ derelict
          Access               Allsop Trust - April to October

                               R. Legg “Steepholm at War” & J. Barret “A History
          Sources              of Maritime Forts in the Bristol Channel 1866 -

          History and Description

           Steep Holm was fortified during the 1860s, along with fortifications on Brean Down, Flat Holm and
           Lavernock Point. Together these fortifications provided a defensive line crossing the Bristol Channel
           protecting the principle ports of Bristol, Cardiff and Newport. Steep Holm is an island of about 49
           acres with an average height above sea level of 200 feet and as its name suggests the island is
           bordered by precipitous cliffs. The fortifications on Steep Holm consist of six small parcels of land
           which run around the cliff top perimeter path, with an average distance between each of about 200
           yards. The guns were all mounted on Dwarf Traversing platforms for C pivots. Each gun battery has
           its own underground expense magazines for shells & cartridges and the batteries are served by
           barrack accommodation located in the middle of the Southern side of the island. Most of the
           Victorian batteries have suffered from damage caused by the re-fortification of the island during the
           Second World War, although all but one of the batteries still have their 7-inch RMLs lying near by.
           The details of each gun battery are as follows:
                                            Height above
           Battery name                     Sea Level   Guns Notes
           Split Rock Battery               175 ft.     2     Good condition - best preserved
           Rudder Rock Battery              200 ft.     1     Poor condition - suffered from 1898 armour trials
                                                              and WW II O.P. built on site
           Summit Battery                   250 ft.     2     Fair condition - 6” WWII battery built on site
           Laboratory Battery               230ft.      2     Poor condition
           Tombstone Battery                200ft.      1     Poor condition
           Garden Battery                   200ft.      2     Fair condition - 6” WWII battery built on site

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