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HER Number:MDV39550
Name:Battery Gardens, Brixham


The advantageous location of the rounded promontory overlooking Brixham Harbour has been recognised since at least 1780 when it was the site of Furzeham Battery. The battery saw intermittent use throughout the 19th century and the site was enclosed by the War Department in the early 20th century. In the 1930s the grounds became part of a public park. An Emergency Coastal Artillery Battery was built within the park in 1940 in order to protect the harbour during the Second World War. Manned initially by the Royal Artillery and then by the Home Guard, it was armed with two 4.7 inch guns and also lighter anti-aircraft guns. The complex included a battery observation post, gun emplacements, accommodation, cook house and generator buildings. A number of the buildings and the gun emplacements still stand.


Grid Reference:SX 920 569
Map Sheet:SX95NW
Admin AreaTorbay
Civil ParishBrixham
Ecclesiastical ParishBRIXHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX95NW/93
  • Tide Project: 16/06/2023
  • Torbay HER: MTO39550

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BATTERY (XVIII to World War II - 1701 AD (Between) to 1945 AD (Between))
  • PUBLIC PARK (Early 20th Century to World War II - 1930 AD (Between) to 1939 AD (Between))

Full description

Torbay HER record (SMR record). SDV361984.

Following the declarations of war by France in 1778 and Spain in 1779 in support of the American War of Independence, the Board of Ordnance issued orders for the construction of four gun batteries for the defence of Torbay in order to counter the threat of invasion by France. As part of the larger Berry Head fortifications, Furzedon Battery was constructed 1779-80 at Fishcombe Point; the 50th Regiment of Foot was encamped on Furzeham Common behind.
In 1783 the guns from all the Berry Head batteries were withdrawn to Plymouth with the exception of those at Fishcombe. In 1794 though the fortifications along the southern edge of Torbay were re-activated and the Berry Head Forts designed. The batteries at the Berry Head Forts were dismantled in 1817 but it is unclear whether Fishcombe was similarly dismantled or what use it was put to over the next 30-35 years. An Admiralty chart surveyed in 1852 and published in 1857 marks a 'Practice Battery' at Fishcombe Cove and gun drill is reported there in 1860. The site of the 18/19C battery is probably the same as that of the mid-19C battery shown on the First edition Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map; only a low bank remains extant.
The 1861 Ordnance Survey map shows a 'Gun Shed' and an area of perimeter (?); it also shows the position of 3 boundary stones marked 'Stone W. D.'. The War Department formed in 1855 subsumed the functions of the board of Ordnance; the stones imply the battery position remained in military control unlike the rest of the Berry Head Fortifications (with the exception of the Shaolstone point battery, which were leased then sold off. The surrounding land however is unenclosed and shown as part of 'Furzdon Common'. Local artillery volunteers were drilling there in 1892.
The First Revision of the Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 in 1904 shows the 'Battery Ground' enclosed by a wall and 8 numbered WD stones; the building marked as 'Gun Shed' in 1862 is still present; the artillery siting/range-finding stone is present as 'stone'. By the Second Revision in 1933 the 'Battery Ground' and the path system are well established; though the gun shed building has disappeared the emplacement is still marked and the shelter which later became known as 'The Altmark
In the summer of 1940 the Battery Ground was urilised as a site of one of the emergency Coastal Defence Batteries based on 2 de-mounted naval 4.7"guns with their ancillary buildings: coastal artillery searchlight stations (CASL); a Battery Observation Post; generator houses and other defensive armament positions. That layout has determined the charcater of the gardens to this day. (Compiled from various sources including SDV362256, SDV362290, SDV362493, SDV362495 and SDV362497.)

Coleman, R., 1989, The Purpose and History of the Battery at Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monograph). SDV362008.

Brixham Battery and one at Corbyn's Head were built in 1940 in order to protect local landing places from invasion. Brixham could also engage targets further into Lyme Bay. It was manned initially by the royal artillery and then by the local home guard. It was armed with two 4.7 inch guns and lighter anti-aircraft guns. The battery complex comprised a number of different structures and emplacements including battery observation post, gun and searchlight emplacements, cook house, generator buildings, accommodation, training hut and magazines.
Coleman served in the home guard supporting the battery during the war.

Guy, J., 1990, List of Coastal Batteries (Un-published). SDV15882.

Site of a coastal battery at Brixham. Armed with two 4.7 inch guns. Substantial remains.

Horner, B., 1994, Battery Gardens, Slides (Site Visit). SDV318352.

Site visit 14th April 1994. A number of battery structures survive in a good state of preservation within Battery Gardens. Some are suffering from graffiti and vandalism. Most of the features are marked on Ordnance Survey 1968 25 inch map.

Wasley, G., 1994, Devon at War 1939-1945, 54 (Monograph). SDV165766.

Brixham Harbour was guarded by two 4.7 inch naval guns manned by 362 Battery, which became 378 Battery, and later manned by the Home Guard.

Fortress Study Group, 1994, List of Defensive Sites (Un-published). SDV362243.

Harbour defence gun emplacement in the park overlooking the outer harbour.

Fiorato, V.J. & Coleman, R., 1999, Battery Gardens (Un-published). SDV362256.

Location plan of all the elements of the complex with detailed descriptions.

Phil Newman, 2001, Battery Gardens, Brixham, Devon: An Archaeological Survey, 1-15 (Report - Survey). SDV362290.

A survey of all 18th and 19th century battery remnants and all visible elements of the 1940 Emergency Coastal Defence Battery. Undertaken in advance of scheduling proposals.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2002, Works at World War II Emergency Coastal Battery Gardens, Brixham, Devon (Correspondence). SDV364635.

Correspondence regarding proposed repair works to a collapsed section of boundary wall adjacent to the entrance to the gardens. The repair works are considered to be urgently required for reasons of health and safety and to prevent further theft of the stone.

Newman, P. + Salvatore, J., 2003, An emergency coast artillery battery at Battery Gardens, Brixham, Torbay, 209-233 (Article in Serial). SDV318361.

A rare survival of a complete Second World War Emergency Coast Artillery Battery. The advantageous location of the site, a rounded promontory overlooking Brixham Harbour, has been recognised since at least 1780 when it was the site of Furzdon Battery. The battery was reactivated in the 1790s during the Napoleonic Wars. War Department boundary stones were set up around the site in the mid 19th century andt the site continued to see intermittent use as a practice battery. By 1904 the site was enclosed by the War Department. A public park, called Battery Ground, was laid out on the promontory in the 1930s, its paths both within and without the walled area. In 1940 the park was chosen as the location for the emergency battery, together with a similar one on Corbyn's Head, to protect the bay against enemy landings. At the end of the war the site became a park once more. Most of the decommissioned buildings were converted to shelters with seating while parts of others were sealed off. The name was changed from Battery Ground to Battery Gardens.
The significance of the site was recognised in the 1990s. The Battery Observation Post was granted Listed Building status in 1997 and the Brixham Battery Heritage Centre Group formed in 1999. The site was scheduled in 2002.

Watts, S., 2023, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Ground Photograph). SDV365626.

Photos of the Battery Observation Post, gun emplacement and search light emplacements within Battery Grounds.

Ordnance Survey, 2023, Mastermap 2023 (Cartographic). SDV365227.

Marked as Battery Grounds but also known as Battery Gardens.

Historic England, 2023, National Heritage List for England, 1020411 (National Heritage List for England). SDV365228.

World War II Emergency Coastal Battery and remains of a Victorian Practice Battery at Battery Gardens.
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, providing home security and protecting communications from the fifteenth until the second half of the 20th century. Emergency Coastal Batteries were set up at speed in the early years of World War II.
The haste of their construction and the need to adapt to existing buildings, local topography, and camouflage requirements, led to many different arrangements in layout. Coast artillery was finally discontinued in 1956 and many Emergency Coastal Batteries were then removed. All Emergency Coastal Batteries, where sufficient physical remains survive to illustrate and provide information about the site's original form and function, will be considered to be of national importance.
The Emergency Coastal Battery at Brixham Battery Gardens has been identified as being one of only seven examples of this type of battery which have survived intact (from a recorded total of 116 Emergency Coastal Batteries set up around the coast of England in World War II). The Brixham Battery retains all of the elements of such a coastal battery in an excellent state of preservation within a public area where the remains can be viewed.
The battery stands therefore as a well-researched and visible reminder of the measures taken to protect England against the threat of invasion during the 1940s, and of the degree to which earlier defence sites were often adapted to serve that need.
The monument includes the standing and below ground remains of the World War II Emergency Battery set up in 1940 to protect the Brixham harbourage, and the remains of an earlier 19th century practice battery.
The World War II complex comprises a number of different structures dispersed throughout the 14 acre (5.6ha) site; only fragmentary remains of the earlier practice battery survive.
See listing description for full details.
Date first scheduled: 6th March 2002.

Hellis, J., Unknown, World War II Site Preservation (Un-published). SDV318356.

Second World War coastal defence emergency battery. The two gun emplacements are almost perfectly preserved and are possibly the finest in England.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV15882Un-published: Guy, J.. 1990. List of Coastal Batteries. Typescript.
SDV165766Monograph: Wasley, G.. 1994. Devon at War 1939-1945. Devon at War. Hardback Volume. 54.
SDV318352Site Visit: Horner, B.. 1994. Battery Gardens. Slide. Slides.
SDV318356Un-published: Hellis, J.. Unknown. World War II Site Preservation. Unknown.
SDV318361Article in Serial: Newman, P. + Salvatore, J.. 2003. An emergency coast artillery battery at Battery Gardens, Brixham, Torbay. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 61. 209-233.
SDV361984SMR record: Torbay HER record.
SDV362008Monograph: Coleman, R.. 1989. The Purpose and History of the Battery at Battery Gardens, Brixham. The Purpose and History of the Battery at Battery Gardens, Brixham. Unknown.
SDV362243Un-published: Fortress Study Group. 1994. List of Defensive Sites.
SDV362256Un-published: Fiorato, V.J. & Coleman, R.. 1999. Battery Gardens.
SDV362290Report - Survey: Phil Newman. 2001. Battery Gardens, Brixham, Devon: An Archaeological Survey. English Heritage. Unknown. 1-15.
SDV364635Correspondence: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2002. Works at World War II Emergency Coastal Battery Gardens, Brixham, Devon. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV365227Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2023. Mastermap 2023. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #141447 ]
SDV365228National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2023. National Heritage List for England. Digital. 1020411.
SDV365626Ground Photograph: Watts, S.. 2023. Battery Gardens, Brixham. Digital.
Linked images:5

Associated Monuments

MDV53002Parent of: Anti-aircraft Gun Base in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV53006Parent of: Artillery Training School Bulding, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Building)
MDV52997Parent of: Battery generator house, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52992Parent of: Battery Observation Post, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV53005Parent of: Battery Reservoir, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV53000Parent of: Brick structure in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52994Parent of: Cookhouse in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV105398Parent of: Dummy Loader Position in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52995Parent of: Generator House, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52991Parent of: Gun emplacements in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV53004Parent of: Harbour gun, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV105400Parent of: Light Anti Aircraft Gun Emplacement in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV134861Parent of: Machine gun post in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV123888Parent of: Magazine in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52996Parent of: Magazine in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV53001Parent of: Magazine in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV105362Parent of: Military platform in Battery Grounds, Brixham (Monument)
MDV105401Parent of: Observation Post in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV53003Parent of: Rocket Projector Platform Base in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52998Parent of: Searchlight battery in Battery Grounds, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52999Parent of: Searchlight emplacement, Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV52993Parent of: 'The Altmark' in Battery Gardens, Brixham (Monument)
MDV123991Related to: Berry Head Fortifications, Brixham (Monument)
MDV44415Related to: Fishcombe Point Battery, Brixham (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7690 - Site Visit by J Hellis - 1990
  • EDV7848 - Archaeological Survey by Phil Newman
  • EDV8950 - Archaeological recording at Brixham Battery (Ref: 09.115)
  • EDV7834 - Archaeological Assessment of the Berry Head Forts

Date Last Edited:May 27 2024 2:44PM