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Building 127, WWI Sentry Post, Chattenden Ordnance Depot

A Grade II Listed Building in Hoo St. Werburgh, Medway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4299 / 51°25'47"N

Longitude: 0.5241 / 0°31'26"E

OS Eastings: 575563

OS Northings: 173122

OS Grid: TQ755731

Mapcode National: GBR PP9.7BF

Mapcode Global: VHJLN.1BF5

Entry Name: Building 127, WWI Sentry Post, Chattenden Ordnance Depot

Listing Date: 26 May 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1400885

Location: Hoo St. Werburgh, Medway, ME3

County: Medway

Civil Parish: Hoo St. Werburgh

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Frindsbury All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Summary

WW1 Sentry Post at Chattenden Ordnance Depot

Description

Reinforced concrete sentry post (also known as building 127) built to protect the Chattenden Magazine Enclosure E gate situated just within (to the W of) the enclosure boundary wall. A one or two-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. Access through a small heavy hatched E door of reinforced concrete with a steel bar-handle and external strap hinges. Five observation apertures located on alternate sides which could also have served as small arms embrasures for hand guns. Surviving metal sheet lining to interior.

History

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. One other sentry post is also positioned to protect and observe the late C19 Chattenden magazine compound. Two sentry posts are located within the Lodge Hill Training Area towards its south-eastern corner and on its southern boundary, 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 this group of sentry posts and therefore provides a terminus post-quem for the structures.

Reasons for Listing

A reinforced concrete sentry post, built as part of the WWI defences for the Chattenden Magazine Enclosure, 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;
* 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.

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