Page 14 - Thames Defences
P. 14

Victorian Forts                                                 Thames                       5

                                           New Tavern Fort

          Commenced            1869 (new battery)                   Armament
          Completed            by 1872
          Cost                  £ unknown                           1872 -1881 10 x 7-inch RML (or higher)
          Map Reference        TQ650747                             one was removed for a year in 1875
          Position             South bank of Thames at              1887 Garden face - 3 x 9-inch RMLs
                               Gravesend                            East face - 3 x 9-inch RMLs 1 x 12-inch
          Type                                                      RML North face - 3 x 9-inch RMLs
          Ditch                Open battery with shields            1895  9 x 9-inch  1 x 12-inch 2 x Machine
          Guns                 Dry                                  Guns
          Barrack Accom. 10                                         1904 2 x 6-inch BL converted on north
          Present use          In Milton Chantry 50 soldiers        face
                               Interpreted and re-armed fort
          History              co-exisiting with a public garden    Caponiers           1

          Disposal             1930 reverted to local council       Counterscarp        None
          Condition            much remains, being preserved        galleries
          Access               Open to the public. Magazines
                               open on Saturdays and Sundays        Haxo casemates None
          Sources              May-Sept.
                                                                    Moncrieff Pits      None

          History and Description

           New Tavern Fort was named after an early inn on the site. The first battery at New Tavern dates
           from 1780. In 1805 it was armed with two 32 pr. fourteen 24pr. and one 9pr. smooth bore guns. It
           was modernised with different armaments in the 1840s and early 1860s and continued thus until
           1868 when it was strengthened with earthworks and RML emplacements after a recommendation  by
           the 1860 report. Captain Clarke in his book ‘Fortification’ cited New Tavern as an example of an
           open battery with shields. Seven of the ten RML guns were placed behind the sort of shields usually
           provided for heavy RML guns in casemated positions. One shield remains with a replica 9-inch RML
           gun behind it.

           The fort was rearmed after 1904 with two 6-inch BL guns on the north face. These remained in place
           for several years. A further two 6-inch guns were mounted from the late 1920s  or early 1930s for the
           use of the Territorial Army. They remained at least as late as 1937. The fort was abandoned and
           reverted to the local council in the 1930s to become a public garden. It is now being re-armed and
           interpreted as a fort and developed as a military museum by the New Tavern Fort Project. Its
           magazines house displays relating to its past life. It also has a collection of artillery representative of
           its history, including two 6-inch BL guns and a 3.7-inch AA gun from Tongue Sands Fort in the
           Thames Estuary.

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