Page 22 - Bristol Defences
P. 22

Victorian Forts                                                 Portsmouth                   48

                     Point Battery (and Old Saluting Battery)

          Commenced            1847                                 Armament
          Completed            1850
          Cost                  £                                   1885-1887  11 x 80pr R.M.L. 3  x 7-inch RBL
                                                                    1887-1893  12 x 80pr R.M.L. 2 x 7-inch R.B.L.
          Map Reference        SU629993                             1898-1900  2  x  64pr RML* 1  x 9-inch RML*
          Position             Entrance of Portsmouth Harbour                 2  x 7-inch RBL* 2  x 80pr RML*
                                                                              2  x 6pdr QF
          Type                 Casemated Sea Battery                1900-1902  2 x 64pr R.M.L. 1 x 9inch R.M.L.
          Ditch                None                                           5  x12pdr QF   2  x Maxim MG
                                                                              3 x 12pr Q.F. (Old Saluting Battery)
          Guns                 24                                   1902- 1916  5  x 12pdr Q.F.
          Barrack Accom. 1 officer and 55 NCOs & men                1916-1922 3  x 12pdr QF
          Present use          Open site & Public Toilets                     2 x 12pdr Q.F. (Old Saluting Battery)
                                                                    1922-1930s 11 x 5inch B.L. (Old Saluting Battery)
          History              Harbour mouth defences since 15th    1927      5 x 12pr Q.F.
                                                                              2 x 12pr Q.F. (Ols Saluting Battery)
                               century                              1937      2 x 12pr Q.F.
          Disposal             1958                                           2 x 12pr Q.F. (Ols Saluting Battery)
          Condition            Partially demolished                 1940/41-1956 1  x Twin 6pdr QF (Point Battery)
          Access               All year round                                       1  x Twin 6pdr QF (Saluting
                               Fortifications in Old Portsmouth - A.Corney.
          Sources                                                   * indicates guns for drill purposes only
                               A Military Heritage - B.H.Patterson.

          History and Description

           The origins of a permanent fortification on this site date back to the early part of the fifteenth century, when a tower was erected on the site together with
           a similar tower on the Gosport shore to guard a chain boom which was strung between them across the harbour mouth. Successive monarchs updated the
           Defences at this point to what became known as the Round Tower. During the 1680s a larger permanent fortification known as Eighteen-gun Battery
           was erected as part of the last phase of the de Gomme defensive works of Portsmouth. This larger fortification took the L shaped trace which is still
           largely visible today, a large twelve casemate stone battery along Point beach, parallel to the sea, with a short flanking four casemate gallery linking it,
           via another two casemates to the Round Tower. The Casemates were limestone faced and brick vaulted.
           In 1847 the de Gomme battery was modified together with the demolishing of nearby houses to build  Point Battery. The gun Casemates were deepened
           to accommodate 68pdr guns and an extra storey of four stone Casemates was added to the flanking gallery to accommodate five 32-pdr S.B guns on
           traversing platforms. To the rear of the eighteen-gun battery, the demolished houses made way for a narrow parade ground with soldiers barrack
           accommodation (in four Casemates with two en-barbette gun emplacements on the roof) at the northern end together with an L shaped flanking
           musketry gallery linking it to the Round Tower. Officers quarters and administration buildings were built along the high brick gorge wall which ran
           adjacent to Broad street. During the 1880’s and early 1890’s the battery was armed with an assortment of RBL’s and RML’s, mainly for drill purposes
           and two 6pr. Q.F. guns. The battery was again updated in the late 1890s to accommodate three 12pr. QF guns on the roof of the eighteen gun battery, a
           12pr. Q.F. on the Round Tower, and another 12pr QF on nearby King James’s Battery.  Also, the upper Casemates of the flanking gallery were fitted
           with hammock hooks, in order to provide extra accommodation., and two Defence Electric Lights, together with another located next to Tower house (to
           the north of the battery), were installed to illuminate the harbour entrance.
           Another return for  1922 shows Saluting Battery mounting eleven 5-inch BL guns installed on Vavasseur carriages and one 12pr BL  VI on a field
           carriage. These guns were used for saluting purposes and sounding the evening gun at sunset. This ceased when the saluting battery was moved across to
           Fort Blockhouse, on the Gosport side of the Harbour entrance in the 1930’s.

           In the 1930-40s  Point Battery was again upgraded with the building of a twin-6pdr Q.F gun emplacement and also the associated directing tower and
           ammunition facilities. This last upgrade of the Defences was again to provide ‘last ditch’ Defences to the harbour mouth, should a fast attack craft try to
           gain entrance of the harbour. Another was added on Saluting Battery.  Both were removed in February 1941. Three Anti Aircraft M.G.s were fitted on
           top of the round tower, the concrete pedestals remain today.

           After the disposal of the Battery, in 1962-3 Portsmouth City council demolished the gorge wall and associated buildings, removed the rear walls and
           ammunition recesses of the main gun Casemates and cut in half the soldiers accommodation Casemates leaving an open site; they also removed any
           reference to the later QF gun positions and modified the Victorian magazine into public toilets! The extent of what the Casemates used to look like is
           now marked out with cobble stones. Point Battery is now used as an extension of the Southsea sea front promenade as well as a public viewing point to
           watch shipping entering and leaving harbour.

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