Page 24 - Fort Gilkicker
P. 24

Fort Gilkicker                                                                                  Solent Papers No.5

           In the 1890s most of the land and sea front forts were  Firing the guns
           re-modelled to take the latest armament. By this time  The 9-inch R.M.L.  comprised of a barrel weighing
           magazines were no longer used to store powder in   12tons, a carriage on which the barrel sat and a
           barrels. Instead charges were stored ready made and  sloping platform that traversed around on racers. The
           sealed into cylinders. These were placed on racks,  carriage with its barrel was free to slide up and down
           the vertical supports of which were let into the arches  on the slope of the platform. The racers for R.M.L.
           and floor at Gilkicker. The walls were lined with  guns were of wrought iron or steel. Iron was used for
           battens to reduce the risk of damage and explosion  7inch and 9inch R.M.L.s except when the 9-inch was
           when cylinders were moved. Each magazine, or       require to fire at high angles up to 35 degrees, where
           ‘cartridge store’, had an issue hatch driven through  steel was preferred. In a shielded casemate such as
           the partition wall so that the cartridges could be  Gilkicker a little hole was drilled at the position of
           passed directly from the magazine  into the powder  the imaginary pivot to be used as a datum point for
           passage.                                           measurements. When a shield had not yet been
                                                              provided the pivot point was localised, usually
           At each end of the barrack block, on the ground    8inches inside the front plate of the proposed shield.
           floor, was a cartridge filling room. Next to the one at  At Gilkicker this point was indicated on the plans as
           the west end was a shell filling room. By 1900 the  being 4ft back from the face of the granite. For the
           east cartridge filling room had been altered to serve  9-inch guns the front racer (1) was set into the
           as a lamp room whilst the west one was used as a   granite of the front wall at a distance of 6ft 3ins from
           laboratory, the shell filling room serving as its  the pivot datum. The rear racer (2) was set into the
           shifting lobby. The laboratory was used to fill and  wooden flooring on  concrete racer blocks. For the
           inspect shells and cartridges, and set fuses, two shell  9-inch R.M.L. this was 16ft 6ins from the pivot
           blocks being provided for this purpose. The passages  datum. The racers were held down by bolts passing
           connecting the basement to the barrack block were  through them and embedded into the racer blocks.
           closed off at the barrack block ends in the early  Behind the rear racer a graduated arc of zinc (3),
           1900s when the wall connecting the barrack to the  with marks showing degrees, was set into the floor of
           gorge wall was removed.                            the casemate to indicate the bearing of a target. This
                                                              was used in conjunction with a pointer fixed on the
                                                              rear of the casemate platform.

             Gun Casemate No.3 for a 10-inch R.M.L. with shield

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