Page 16 - Isle of Wight
P. 16

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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