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HER Number:MDV48740
Name:Watch House Brake Position Finding Station, Wembury

Summary

The 19th century position-finder cells associated with Staddon Heights and Frobisher batteries are visible as six rectangular sunken structures on aerial photographs taken from 1946 onwards, within a larger fenced enclosure. Substantial remains survived in 1993 but aerial imagery shows them to have become roofless by 2007.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 489 508
Map Sheet:SX45SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishWembury
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishPLYMSTOCK

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX45SE/19/3

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • POSITION FINDING STATION (XIX - 1894 AD to 1894 AD)

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1890, Devon County Council RAF/CPE/UK/1890 FS 2127-2128 10-DEC-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV169268.

Six rectangular structures are visible.

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2105, RAF/CPE/UK/2105 RP 3138-3139 28-MAY-1947 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351151.

Six rectangular structures are visible.

Royal Air Force, 1955, RAF/540/1625, RAF/540/1625 F21 0026-0027 24-MAY-1955 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351141.

Six rectangular structures are visible.

PLYMOUTH FORTRESS SURVEY, 1992, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV27236.

Vis=27/2/1992, 11/3/1992 (pye and woodward) position finder station s of watchhouse battery. Consists of six brick and concrete position-finder cells connected by an underground passage at the rear. Access to the complex was provided by a stairway up from the dry ditch into the northernmost cell. This is different from the others in that it has masonry walls and an older concrete roof with a window protected by a grille and iron plating. It looks westwards. It may be the site of the watkin dfr installed for use with the bovisand guns in 1880. The other five cells are brick-built with concrete roofs and look out towards the south-west. Some still contain pillars for the position-finding instruments, the usual number being three. The pillars in one has script on the rear giving distances to known points such as the breakwater and the height above water table of the instrument. All are in fair to good condition although the roofs of two cells are collapsing due to dampness affecting the iron girders supporting the concrete roofs. All are derelict and are difficult to access. They form a complete group, with detail such as the script on the pillars being a particularly important survival.(plymouth fortress survey).

1992, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV159898.

Des=plymouth fortress survey/pye, a.(1992)/copy and plan in smr.

Pye, A. + Woodward, F., 1996, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, Fig. 108 (Monograph). SDV167752.

The Position Finding Station is depicted as six structures linked by a track on the east side, all set within an enclosure, on a map dating to 1896.

Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC, 1999-2017, Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs, Next Perspectives APGB Imagery SX4850 22-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363087.

Six rectangular roofless structures are visible.

English Heritage, 2014, Staddon Heights Position FinderStations, south of Watch House Ditch (Correspondence). SDV356407.

Prompted by the consideration of Fort Staddon for designation as a scheduled monument, the integrated set of 19th century defences on the coastline at Staddon Heights outside Plymouth, Devon have been given a comprehensive assessment. This includes the consolidation and amendment of some designations, and the consideration of some assets that are not currently designated. The Position Finder Stations by Watch House Ditch fall into the latter category. After considering the merits of the Finder Stations it cannot be recommended for listing.

Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2019-2020, The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP) (Interpretation). SDV362982.

Six rectangular structures, approximately 4.5 by 3.5 metres in plan, are visible on aerial photographs taken from 1946 onwards, sunk into the hillside south of Watch House Battery. They correspond to the location of the late-19th century position finding station associated with Staddon Heights and Frobisher batteries (MDV48755 and MDV17341) recorded by Pye and Woodward (1996). They appear to be flat-roofed in the mid-20th century, but roofless by 2007. The northernmost is most clear and may have had different roofing material or finish, and this structure appears to have had a covered entrance from the military ditch on its north side. What appears to be an earthwork bank surrounds the complex on the east and south, although this is recorded as a fence by Pye and Woodward.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV159898Migrated Record: 1992.
SDV167752Monograph: Pye, A. + Woodward, F.. 1996. The Historic Defences of Plymouth. The Historic Defences of Plymouth. A4 Paperback. Fig. 108.
SDV169268Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). Devon County Council RAF/CPE/UK/1890 FS 2127-2128 10-DEC-1946.
SDV27236Migrated Record: PLYMOUTH FORTRESS SURVEY. 1992.
SDV351141Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1955. RAF/540/1625. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/540/1625 F21 0026-0027 24-MAY-1955.
SDV351151Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2105. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/2105 RP 3138-3139 28-MAY-1947. [Mapped feature: #122257 ]
SDV356407Correspondence: English Heritage. 2014. Staddon Heights Position FinderStations, south of Watch House Ditch. Digital.
SDV362982Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2019-2020. The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP). Historic England Research Report. Digital.
SDV363087Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 1999-2017. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Aerial Photography for Great Britain Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives APGB Imagery SX4850 22-MAY-2007.

Associated Monuments

MDV17341Related to: Frobisher Battery above Staddon Point, Wembury (Monument)
MDV48755Related to: Staddon Heights Battery, Wembury (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8098 - The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping (formerly NMP) Survey, Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (Ref: ACD2040)

Date Last Edited:Oct 14 2019 5:13PM