Page 26 - Plymouth Defences
P. 26

Victorian Forts                                                 Plymouth                     12

                                               Bowden Fort

          Commenced            1863 (contractor failed 1866)        Armament
          Completed            by engineers 1868/69                 1875
          Cost                  £ 15,891                            proposed   8 x 7-inch RBL
          Map Reference        SX497583                                        4 x 8-inch How.
          Position             North East Defences, Right Flank                2 x SB flank guns.
          Type                 Land Front, polygonal                mounted    7 x 7-inch RBL
          Ditch                Dry                                  mounted    2 x 7-inch RBL
          Guns                 12 guns 3 mortars                               4 x 64pr. RML
          Barrack Accom. 16                                         required   1 x 7-inch RBL
          Present use          Garden Centre, gorge ditch a car
                               park                                 Caponiers           1 flanking gallery
                                                                    Counterscarp        1
          Disposal             1963                                 galleries
          Condition            Altered to modern usage.
          Access               When the garden centre is open       Haxo casemates None
                               1868 report : Precis of Correspondence relating to
                               the Defences of Plymouth 1893. Historic Defences of
          Sources              Plymouth by A. Pye and F. Woodward   Moncrieff Pits      None

          History and Description

           Bowden Fort (or Battery) was constructed so that its western face flanked the valley towards the rear
           of Crown Hill and its Eastern face commanded the face of Forder battery. It was to mount 12 guns in
           open battery with three mortars. It stood 345 feet above sea level. The ditch is excavated from rock
           and is flanked at the salients by musketry galleries; the escarps and counterscarps are formed at a
           slope of one-half to one. The gorge is closed by a wall 22 feet high, flanked by a defensible guard
           room, on two levels, containing bomb-proof barrack roms for 16 men. Ample magazine
           accommodation was provided.

           On the ramparts four expense magazines were constructed underneath traverses. The site has been
           re-used as a garden centre but the E and NE ramparts survive almost intact, the 64pdr RML positions
           are recognisable. The two musketry galleries are buried to roof level and the access tunnels to them
           are blocked. The main entrance was through the gorge wall to the west of the guard house. The lower
           level of the guard house has been buried and the gorge ditch is now a car park.  The ramparts are
           overgrown and the NW section has been levelled. The west mortar battery has been filled in, the area
           now occupied by greenhouses. The other mortar battery at the north east salient is intact.

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