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Victorian Forts                                             Portsmouth                 41





                                           Hatherwood Battery




               Commenced          1865                               Armament
               Completed          1869
               Cost                  £ 5,825                         1870 4 x 9-inch 3 x 7-inch R.M.L.s
               Map Reference      SZ 308857                          1886 4 x 9-inch, 2 x 12.5-inch R.M.L.s.
                                                                     1891 4 x 9-inch R.M.L. 2 x 12.5-inch R.M.L.
               Position           Isle of Wight / Needles / west        Proposed 1 x 10-inch B.L.
                                  East side of Alum Bay              1895 2 x 9-inch L.R. 2 x 9-inch 2 x 12.5-inch
               Type               Coast Defence                      R.M.L.s.
               Ditch                                                 1900 4 x 9-inch, 2 x 12.5-inch R.M.L.s, 2 x
               Guns               earlier battery 7,  later 6         5-inch B.L. (practice)
                                                                     1902 2 x Machine Guns on Infantry Carriages
               Barrack Accom. 2
               Present use        Open site

               History            Coast Defence then Volunteer
                                  practice battery
               Disposal
               Condition          Four emplacements remain.
               Access             National Trust land

               Sources            Precis of Correspondence - 1893,
                                  Solent Papers No 2, 1891 Armament book

               History and Description

                Hatherwood Battery, proposed by the 1859 Royal Commission, was constructed to mount six 68pr. S.B. guns en-barbette at the same height
                above sea level as the Needles battery. Situated on Hatherwood Point, on the north east side of Alum Bay, it was designed to cross fire with that
                of the Needles Battery over the Needles Passage. Before it was completed it was decided to mount seven guns in three groups. two heavier
                9-inch R.M.L.s in each of the flanks and three 7-inch R.M.L.s  in the centre. The main magazine was situated in the rear of the battery
                underneath an earth mound. Barrack accommodation was originally intended for two officers and 50 men but this was omitted. Instead a small
                building in the rear provided  accommodation for two married soldiers, the garrison being quartered in Golden Hill Fort. In 1873 it was
                proposed to remodel the three centre gun emplacements to take two 12-inch 36-ton R.M.L.s.  Two 12.5-inch 38-ton R.M.L.s. were mounted
                instead by 1886. The main magazine was relocated to the left flank. In 1886 it was proposed to mount a 10-inch B.L. gun in place of the 9-inch
                R.M.L.s in the two left positions at a cost of £6,000 but by 1895 the idea had been abandoned.
                In about 1886  a series of four Position Finding cells were added to the point above the battery at Headon Warren. In 1889-92 searchlight
                experiments were undertaken and fire control of the needles passage batteries was controlled from there. In 1890 and 1891 a searchlight was
                fitted in front of the battery with a temporary engine room to the rear of the battery. In 1895 the battery had a full complement of four 9-inch
                R.M.L.s (two on Long Range Mountings) and two 12.5-inch R.M.L.s. but it was proposed to replace the long range mounts with standard
                9-inch mountings. In 1898 the Montgomery Committee  noted that Hatherwood was “slowly slipping away. In the event of a very wet Winter
                (it) may at any time be rendered unserviceable.”The Committee proposed to mount two 9.2-inch and two 6-inch B.L. guns in a battery on
                Headon Hill overlooking Hatherwood and replacing it. This was not done. In 1899 it was decided to allow the battery to retain its armament
                “while it still stands for practice only. It cannot be taken into account for defence”. In 1898 it was proposed to modify the battery yet again
                with two of the 9-inch guns being removed from the right (north) position and the two left (west) positions modified for two 5-inch B.L. guns
                on broadside mounts. This type of gun was often mounted for volunteer practice use. Two guns of this type were in place on the left battery by
                1900 with two more proposed for the centre positions in 1901. These may not have been fitted as the battery was listed as having only two
                machine guns mounted in 1902.  However the positions were prepared for them as traces of another two mountings on the centre positions can
                be found today. From 1903 the battery was officially disarmed.
                Between 1940 and 1943 the site was used by the Royal Navy as part of an Indicator Loop station. All that remains of the battery now are four
                of the gun emplacements. No trace of any of the buildings, magazines or ramps now exist. The site is now slowly subsiding, the two right
                emplacements have already fallen down the cliff towards the sea. The two central emplacements are badly eroded. The two left ones are
                relatively intact and show signs of their modification for the 5-inch B.L. mounts.




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