WW1 Sentry Post at Lodge Hill Ordnance Depot
Reason for Listing
A reinforced concrete sentry post, built as part of the WWI defences for the Lodge Hill Ordnance Depot, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Early date: relatively few examples are known from the First World War and so this sentry post is a rare survival nationally;
* Rarity: an example of a sentry post design which is believed to be unique to Royal Navy sites in the Medway area of north Kent. This particular post also has a crawl porch which is an unusual feature for this group;
* Group value: with five other sentry posts at Chattenden/Lodge Hill built broadly to the same specification to reinforce the defences of this ordnance depot militarised landscape.
A group of concrete sentry posts, including this example, are part of a WWI reinforcement of the defences of the former Royal Navy ordnance depots at Chattenden and Lodge Hill. The Chattenden Depot was constructed from 1872 onwards to store gunpowder and other ordnance for the Navy, supplementing an earlier depot at Upnor on the River Medway where expansion was not a possibility. The administrative and residential buildings at Chattenden were completed by 1875 with the Chattenden Magazine Enclosure built by 1877. The Lodge Hill Ordnance Depot followed in 1899 to provide storage for cordite, the new principal smokeless propellant for munitions which required different forms of storage building from gunpowder. The site continued to expand in the early C20 with the addition of laboratories for cartridge filling, the construction of additional cordite and expense magazines (small magazines in which a supply of ammunition is stored for immediate use) and also a large filled shell store for holding up to 6,300 tons of ammunition. The prospect of Zeppelin raids along the Medway led to the establishment of an anti-aircraft battery at Lodge Hill (memorandums relating to its construction and armament survive dating to late 1912 and early 1913) as well as a block house and battery at Beacon Hill to the south. These were the first purpose-built anti-aircraft guns to be mounted in England. This sentry post, and others in the group, can therefore be seen as part of a range of improvements and enhancements in anticipation of enemy attack. Two of the sentry posts are positioned to protect and observe the late C19 Chattenden magazine compound. A further sentry post is within the Lodge Hill Training Area towards its south-eastern corner and two further examples are visible on rising ground to the east of Lodge Hill Road guarding the southern approach to the site. The sentry posts would have functioned as points of refuge under fire rather than being permanently occupied. Current evidence suggests that these are a locally distinct naval form of sentry post with all known examples confined to the Medway. Other examples can be found at the Medway Maritime Hospital site (the former Royal Naval Hospital, near the junction of Windmill Road and Langhill Avenue, Gillingham), there are two at the Bull Nose, Gillingham Docks and one at the Lower Upnor Ordnance Depot (albeit this is on a larger scale than those at Chattenden and Lodge Hill).
The WWI date for these structures is based on form with WWI pillboxes and sentry posts typically of this type of concrete construction. A War Office 6 inch map of the Chatham field defences, dated November 1914, indicates the position of some WWI defences at Chattenden and Lodge Hill but not the sentry posts and therefore provides a terminus post-quem for the structures.
Reinforced concrete sentry post (also known as building 67) located just inside (N) of the S boundary of the Lodge Hill compound and thus overlooks the enclosure to its N and southern approaches. A one-man concrete shelter approximately 2.5m high and polygonal (11-sided) with a shallow domed roof. Walls are approximately 30cm (1 foot) thick and built in circa 2 feet (60cm) sections; the roof constructed using a corrugated former. Low protected concrete crawl porch on S side with the doorway into the sentry post facing SE. No internal metal lining plate to the interior as found in other examples. Interior extremely confined, only allowing one person access. Five very small vertical slots serve as observation apertures. Their small size would also minimise the likelihood of shrapnel reaching the interior in the event of an attack.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.