Page 22 - Milford Haven Defences
P. 22

Victorian Forts                                             Milford Haven              10

                                         West Blockhouse Fort

               Commenced           c1854                             Armament
               Completed           by 1858
               Cost                  £  unknown                      c1860-c1875     6 x 68pr SB
                                                                                     6 x 80pr.RML
               Map Reference       OS 817035
               Position            West Blockhouse Point             1893    Mounted 6 x 80pr RML
                                                                             Proposed 6 x 80pr RML practice only
               Type                Coast Battery with defensible barracks  1900   D  i  s  a  r  m  e  d
               Ditch               Dry                               Practice Battery
               Guns                6                                 1901-c1907      4 x 5-inch BL
               Barrack Accom.      42                                                2 x 3pdr QF (roof)
               Present use         Owned by Landmark Trust
                                                                     Caponiers            None
               History             Coast battery and practice battery
                                                                     Counterscarp         None
               Disposal            1956                                       galleries
               Condition           Good-habitable
               Access              Rent from Landmark Trust or visit with  Haxo casemates
                                   their permission.                                      None
                                   1858 &1868 Committee Reports,  Precis of
               Sources             Correspondence prior to 1893 National Archives.  Moncrieff Pits  None

               History and Description

                A work at West Blockhouse Point seems to have originated in the eighteen fifties as there is no mention of a work there before that
                decade; what is certain is that it had been built by 1858 as in that year it was criticised for the barracks being too close to the battery as
                shells exploding against the barracks could render the battery untenable. In 1871 it was proposed to abandon the batteries at  Dale
                Point, Thorne Island and West Blockhouse but Thorne Island and West Blockhouse should be retained as even with their existing
                armament these two works were of value in guarding an advanced line of submarine mines. It was further recommended that when
                funds could be made available they could be armed with 3 x 18tons guns in casemates.  In 1872 it was decided that the proposed guns
                at West Blockhouse and Thorne Island should be 80pr RML.  In 1886 it was decided that: no heavy defence is required in advance of
                Stack roack and West Blockhouse and Thorne Island should be disarmed.

                In 1893 the battery was reduced to practice status until  disarmed in 1900. The battery was remodelled in 1901 to take four 5-inch BL
                guns on Vavasseur mountings and retained its practice status, at the same time two 3pdr QF guns were mounted on the roof of the
                barracks also for practice; the positions for these guns are still extant today. By 1907 the guns had gone. After the construction of West
                Blockhouse Battery, the Fort was used as a store and perhaps as extra accommodation. In the Second World War the Fort was the
                searchlight headquarters for the Haven’s defences and two searchlight positions were built close to the Fort, the one to the west of the
                Fort still retains its armoured shutters.

                The Fort was purchased by the Landmark Trust who restored it and converted it into accommodation suitable for holiday letting so it
                is possible to stay at the Fort and appreciate the view of the Haven entrance and the Bristol Channel.
                The Fort is built of limestone and is situated on West Blockhouse Point. At the front of the Fort is the gun battery originally for  six
                guns firing en barbette over a low parapet. The positions extant today, in spite of some of the racers being thrown over the parapet
                onto the rocks, are for the four 5-inch guns. Behind the battery is the barracks consisting of two floors and the roof where there is a
                loopholed parapet and the remains of the positions where the two 3pdr QF guns were mounted. The entrance to the barracks is over a
                drawbridge that spans the moat and levels out to form the terreplein for the gun battery.

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