Page 16 - IOW.dpd
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Victorian Forts                                         Portsmouth                     35

                                Steynewood High Angle Battery

               Commenced          8 August 1889                       Armament
               Completed          May 1894
               Cost                  £ 1,4501                        Proposed
               Map Reference      SZ 641869                          6 x 9-inch 12 -ton High Angle mountings
               Position           Bembridge, East Isle of Wight      Mounted 1896-1898
                                                                     4 x 9-inch 12-ton High Angle mountings
               Type               Coast Defence High Angle Fire      1898
               Ditch              Firing trenches                    6 x 9-inch 12-ton High Angle mountings
               Guns               6                                  1899 disarmed
               Barrack Accom. 4 men in guard house/1 caretaker
               Present use        Private residence

               History            Short use for coast defence

               Disposal           Disarmed 1899
               Condition          Fair, much remains
               Access             By appointment with owner

                                  Precis of correspondence relating to Portsmouth prior
               Sources            to 1898 plans in PRO - WO78 2623/5032

               History and Description

                Steynewood battery for 9-inch RML High Angle guns was built at Steynewood on the  Isle of Wight
                overlooking the anchorage of St. Helens Roads and the approaches to the Nab Passage. Its purpose
                was to prevent ships lying off Sandown and bombarding Portsmouth Dockyard. The battery,
                constructed between 1889 and 1894, consisted of six gun emplacements in an arc, in three groups of
                two, with expense cartridge stores (formerly shelters) between each pair and shell stores, each seving
                three positions, between the centres guns and the outside pairs. It was built according to the new
                Twydall principles experimented with at Chatham in the construction of the new land forts there. It
                employed  fire trenches with steel palisades in front of each pair of gun emplacements as protection
                against a frontal assault. A parados with a rearwards facing firing step ran across the battery
                separating the gun emplacements from a rear parade, or camping field. Another fire trench was
                extended around the rear of the fort. To the left of the entrance was a guard room which was also
                sutable for conversion to a caretaker’s quarters. Four 9-inch H.A. R.M.L. guns were in place by 1893,
                but not yet mounted  and by 1898 six were mounted with a proposal to add two more. In 1899 it was
                decided to disarm because ‘it would not deter ships which would dare to face the powerful interior
                batteries. These guns are very slow in their fire and not very accurate’. The battery was sold off and
                has since been used as a private residence for two halves of the Thorncroft family, in whose
                possession it remains.

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