Historic Gosport defence gets protected by English Heritage

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AN IMPORTANT piece of local history in Gosport has been protected thanks to a conservation enthusiast.

Howard Bennett, of Ashburton Road, Alverstoke, a committee member of Gosport Society, applied to English Heritage to give No 1 Battery scheduled monument status.

The historic gun emplacement, built in the 1860s and sited at what is now Stokes Bay Mobile Home Park, off Stokes Bay Road, is now protected following Mr Bennett’s application.

The battery was part of England’s defences against a potential French invasion and formed part of the Stokes Bay Lines, connected via a short tunnel to No 2 Battery, which is already a protected grade two listed building.

But No 1 Battery is largely demolished, after the moat surrounding it was filled in to allow the widening of Browndown Road in the 1930s.

Mr Bennett wanted to obtain protection for the remaining tunnel and ramparts of No 1 Battery, after reading local historian David Moore’s article about the landmark on fortgilkicker.co.uk.

Mr Bennett said: ‘I read the article mentioning this tunnel and like anyone else I thought, “crikey I didn’t know this tunnel was there, I didn’t even know No 1 Battery was there”.

‘It was totally unknown – people locally aren’t aware of it because it’s hidden within the mobile home park.’

A report by English Heritage, following Mr Bennett’s application in 2010, confirmed the status had been awarded with the approval of the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, then Jeremy Hunt MP.

It said that the site ‘is an essential component of the nationally important mid-C19 defensive complex known as the Stokes Bay Lines which defended the western coastal approach to Portsmouth and is of national importance in its own right.’

Mr Bennett said he hopes the protection will see the site last for years to come.

He said: ‘I’m delighted because the danger was that if it’s inside a mobile home park, there’s a danger of people interfering with it and gradually it could be destroyed.

‘Or if nobody cared I suppose one day when the mobile home park disappeared, the ramparts could disappear.’