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HER Number:MDV55097
Name:Kingswear Torpedo Battery


Torpedo battery battery built in 1940 on top of earlier swimming pool. Constructed of brick and concrete camouflaged to resemble a boat house of random rubble and thatch.


Grid Reference:SX 890 503
Map Sheet:SX85SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishKingswear
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishBRIXHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX85SE/61
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX85SE/329
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BATTERY (XX - 1901 AD to 2000 AD (Between))

Full description

National Monuments Record, SX85SE/61 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV340349.

Remains of a Second World War camouflaged torpedo installation. The site had re-used a former swimming pool and ornamental circular tower associated with Kingswear Court. Filled-in pool created substantial concrete platform on which a low sub-rectangular building, 6.5m by 7.5m was built. Inscribed date of 1940. Brick-built with concrete slabs facing which has been crazed and set at random. Roof has a similar camouflaged appearance but is also built of 0.2m thick reinforced concrete. The building is open on the landward and seaward sides. Impressions on interior of former heavy equipment location. Adjacent to the building is a substantial concrete box, 3m by 1.3m, and the base of some lifting gear. To the north are the remains of a narrow concrete slipway with a raised working area and a pair of davits. Whole site disguised as an antiquity.

Wilson-North, R., 1993, A Second World War Emergency Coastal Battery at Inner Forward Point, Kingswear, 199-200 (Article in Serial). SDV340348.

Torpedo battery shown on RCHME plan. Land based torpedo launching site below Kingswear Court.

Wasley, G., 1994, Devon at War 1939-1945, 55 + Appendix E (Monograph). SDV165766.

Two torpedo tubes established at Dartmouth Castle which in operation in 1940.

Hellis, J., 1995, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV340346.

Second World War land based 21 inch torpedo launching station. This is possibly the last known example in England of what was once quite a common feature. The battery was set up as part of a combined defence system to deny access to the mouth of the Dart to enemy vessels. The long range guns at Brownstone battery and the inshore battery at Dartmouth castle formed the artillery segment of this defence. At Kingswear castle there is also the XDO post that controlled an electronically detonated minefield. NGR given as SX894503 but this may not be correct.

Horner, B., 1995, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV340347.

This site is said to be camouflaged as a boat house.

Jury, R., 1996, Kingswear Torpedo Battery (Worksheet). SDV340350.

Photographs accompanying worksheet show the torpedo launch building, the folly tower to the north and to the south a crenellated concrete wall leading back to the path down from Kingswear Court. This may have been part of the camouflage if not a later embellishment.

Watts, M. A., 1997, Archaeological and Historical Survey at Gomerock, Kingswear, 18 (Report - Survey). SDV173198.

Historic England, 2018, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV360653.

Kingswear Torpedo Battery. Torpedo Battery. Built in 1940 (inscription on wall). Concrete finished to resemble random rubble and thatch.
The torpedo battery sits on a large concrete platform built on top of an earlier swimming pool overlooking the approach to Dartmouth Harbour. It consists of a low sub-rectangular brick structure camouflaged in part with an external facing of broken concrete slabs set in concrete. The pitched roof is of reinforced concrete with a covering of haphazardly placed concrete slab fragments to enhance the impression of a thatched boat house of random rubble construction. There are openings in the seaward and landward facing ends. A single substantial opening in the seaward end has a stepped upper lintel, presumably reflecting the need to camouflage this end in particular. It was through this opening that the torpedoes would have been launched. On the landward end there are two unequal sized openings through which the torpedoes would have been carried into the battery. The larger southern one is denoted by a segmental flat arch and the smaller northern one by a segmental pointed arch. The wall on this end is of plain concrete. Internally, a raised concrete plinth in the western part of the building contains three elongated hollows complete with iron fittings aligned along the axis of the building. These would have supported the firing mechanism for the torpedoes. A winch also standing on this plinth was installed after the torpedo battery fell out of use. The base of a davit standing close to the building on the edge of the quay represents an integral, if slightly divorced part of the battery.
HISTORY: The battery was built in 1940 (inscription on wall) as part of a combined defence system (many elements of which are listed or are Scheduled Ancient Monuments) constructed during World War II to protect shipping sheltering within the large natural harbour at Dartmouth. The battery housed 21 inch torpedoes which would have been fired from the building at enemy ships trying to enter the harbour.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The torpedo battery survives exceptionally well and is a unique survival of a particularly unusual form of defense. It represents an innovative use of concrete as a camouflage material in a war time defensive context and forms an integral part of the Dartmouth defences as well as being a landmark on this historic coastline.
Date first listed: 21st June 2006

Sources / Further Reading

SDV165766Monograph: Wasley, G.. 1994. Devon at War 1939-1945. Devon at War. Hardback Volume. 55 + Appendix E.
SDV173198Report - Survey: Watts, M. A.. 1997. Archaeological and Historical Survey at Gomerock, Kingswear. Exeter Archaeology Report. 97.61. A4 Stapled + Digital. 18.
SDV340346Correspondence: Hellis, J.. 1995. Letter to Devon County Council. Letter.
SDV340347Personal Comment: Horner, B.. 1995. Not Applicable.
SDV340348Article in Serial: Wilson-North, R.. 1993. A Second World War Emergency Coastal Battery at Inner Forward Point, Kingswear. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 51. Paperback Volume. 199-200.
SDV340349National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. SX85SE/61. NMR Index. A4 Single Sheet.
SDV340350Worksheet: Jury, R.. 1996. Kingswear Torpedo Battery. Defence of Britain Project. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV360653National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2018. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV21013Related to: Brownstone Emergency Battery, Inner Froward Point, Kingswear (Monument)
MDV41985Related to: Kingswear Castle, World War II Building (Monument)
MDV56117Related to: POWER STATION in the Parish of Kingswear (Monument)
MDV56232Related to: Stone Tower southwest of Kingswear Court (Monument)
MDV39413Related to: World War II Pillbox west of Kingswear Court (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Nov 29 2018 12:49PM