BOULDNOR BATTERY, ISLE OF WIGHT

We are delighted to have been appointed by Forestry England to develop a Heritage Options Appraisal for Bouldnor Battery on the Isle of Wight. The appraisal is supported by a grant from Historic England and will allow us to look at the potential for conversion of this important 20th Century Scheduled Ancient Monument.

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The use of fixed artillery to protect the coast from hostile ships is one of the oldest practices in the history of England's defences. From the 15th century until the second half of the 20th century, coastal artillery provided home security as well as protecting communications and trade networks across Britain's empire.

Four classes of 20th century coastal batteries can be identified: anti-motor torpedo boat batteries; defended ports, within which were counter-bombardment, close defence and quick-firing batteries; emergency batteries of World War II; and temporary and mobile artillery. Unlike other classes of World War II monuments, these coastal batteries display considerable variation according to and the use of earlier fortifications; the types of gun housed on these sites; and their precise function.

The Solent, with its proximity to Europe, its natural berthing facilities and the naval base at Portsmouth, has had an important military strategic role since at least the 16th century, with the result that a large and diverse group of features has developed specifically for the purpose of coastal defence. Bouldnor Battery forms an integral part of this group and is one of eleven contemporary fortifications associated with the defence of the Needles Passage. The construction of this battery with only two emplacements represents an unusual arrangement.

Sharon Pritchard