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Description: Former a (No. 1) Magazine and Enclosure Walls, 100m N of Marchwood Yacht Club Offices
Date Listed: 21 May 1985
English Heritage Building ID: 143443
OS Grid Reference: SU3925311503
OS Grid Coordinates: 439253, 111503
Latitude/Longitude: 50.9017, -1.4431
Explore more of the area around Marchwood, Hampshire at Explore Britain.
1860/5/34 MAGAZINE LANE
21-MAY-85 Former A (No. 1) magazine and enclosur
e walls, 100m N of Marchwood Yacht Clu
(Formerly listed as:
Former magazine at former Royal Naval
Armaments Depot, 100m north of Entranc
The former A (No.1) Magazine at Marchwood was built between 1814 and 1816 using plans drawn up by Lieutenant-General Sir William Congreve, Bt., Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery and Controller of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich. It is a brick construction which originally had a roof of pantile and slate.
DESCRIPTION: In plan the magazine is a simple rectangular building within a rectangle formed by its outer enclosure wall. Both the magazine and enclosure have red brick walls. The enclosure has a gate to its south. The corresponding entrance on the north side is incorporated into the Receiving Room building. The existing gateway is flanked by square piers, each having a round-headed recessed panel surmounted by a slightly-projecting square panel.
Originally the magazine had a triple-pitched roof with prominent lightning conductors. It has three windows at each end with a small stone ledge under each window. There are, in addition, small ventilation openings in the magazine wall set within Portland stone surrounds, which originally had wooden doors. These ventilation openings complimented the voids built into the brickwork to facilitate the circulation of air to prevent damp.
The interior fittings of the magazines are no longer present, but would have had rows of racking for the storage of the powder barrels and copper fittings.
HISTORY: The threat of French invasion in 1779, and the advent of the Napoleonic Wars caused a dramatic reform in the way that gunpowder was stored and issued in Britain. Until the later years of the C18 storage facilities for gunpowder required a bombproof structure. Most powder was stored in old fortifications or more recently constructed similar massive vaulted buildings. At this time the two sites of gunpowder production in the country were at Waltham Abbey and Faversham, both of which were established in the C17, and acquired by the Crown in the C18. Under the new system, the powder produced here was stored at eight depots around the country, from where it was issued as needed. These depots were at Purfleet, Tilbury, Gravesend, Upnor Castle, Priddy's Hard, Tipner Point (both within Portsmouth Harbour), Keyham Point (Devonport), and Picket Field in Berkshire. In addition to these, a magazine in Hyde Park supplied London, and other powder was stored in floating magazines in the River Medway, at Portsmouth and at Plymouth. In 1811 it was decided to increase the number of depots, and to replace the floating magazines with more permanent storage facilities. With this in mind, four new magazines were built; at Dorchester, Carmarthen, North Hyde and Marchwood. Of these four magazines, Marchwood was the largest, and remained in service for the longest time.
At this time gunpowder was stored in barrels, each containing 90 lbs of powder. The Marchwood site was intended to store 20,000 barrels. In its initial design the Marchwood Depot was to contain the 20,000 barrels in one enormous magazine. By 1807 the Board of Ordnance had realised the importance of the provision of separate buildings for examining powder and other functions at magazines. After much deliberation about the design of the depot, it was decided to construct three magazines, placed as far apart as possible, each having the capacity for 6,800 barrels. Built into the design was Congreve's revolutionary idea of using `soft top' roofs (which, because of the low resistance in the roof, allowed any accidental blast to go upwards rather than outwards), hollow wall construction to reduce the risk of damp penetration(patented by John Groves in 1809), and a canal to move the barrels by barge from magazine to magazine. Although canal communication was used in the major Ordnance factories, the small canal just to the south of the magazines used for moving barrels by barge is thought to be unique. The powder from Marchwood was used to supply the smaller Portsmouth magazines at Priddy's Hard and Tipner Point and also to supply the fleet off Spithead.
At Marchwood the three magazines, together with the ancillary buildings and the perimeter wall, were built between 1814 and 1816. Magazine A (No.1) is the only one of the three original magazines to survive. The other early magazines, D (No.2) and G (No.3) were destroyed in 1940.
Four more magazines were added in 1856-7 due to the shortcomings revealed by the Crimean War. This effective second foundation of Marchwood took its storage capacity to three magazines of 14,400 and one of 9,600 barrels. By 1864 it was the largest magazine in the country, according to the Times, with a capacity of 76,000 barrels. The canal was by now superseded by a roller way. The Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1856, and the War Office took over its responsibilities. In 1890 control of Marchwood was handed over to the Navy. The establishment began to be wound down soon afterwards, and a number of Marchwood's magazines were destroyed by bombing in 1940. The Depot was closed in 1961.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: Despite the loss of some of its elements, Magazine A at Marchwood retains those important features which identify it as a significant landmark in magazine construction. It dates from a period which marks a new approach to the concept of gunpowder storage, and of which there are no similar listed examples. It also has strong group value with the other surviving buildings at the Marchwood Depot.
SOURCES: Former Board of Ordnance Gunpowder Magazines Magazine Lane, Marchwood, Hampshire - by Roger Bowdler, Historical Analysis and Research Team English Heritage - November 1997
Thematic Survey of the Ordnance Yards and Magazine Depots Summary Report - Thematic Listing Programme - Final Draft January 2003.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.