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Former Ordnance Store

A Grade II Listed Building in River, Medway

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Latitude: 51.3877 / 51°23'15"N

Longitude: 0.5256 / 0°31'31"E

OS Eastings: 575824

OS Northings: 168435

OS Grid: TQ758684

Mapcode National: GBR PPP.TZL

Mapcode Global: VHJLV.2D60

Entry Name: Former Ordnance Store

Listing Date: 22 April 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1410368

Location: Medway, ME4

County: Medway

Electoral Ward/Division: River

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Chatham

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Gillingham St Mark

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Ordnance store of c1800; early to mid-C19 wings to north, east, and west, of lesser special interest.


The original c1800 ordnance storehouse, and two later wings to east and west, is situated outside the line of the southern boundary of Kitchener Barracks, to the west of the south gate. The extension to the immediate north of the building is within the boundary of the barracks.

MATERIALS: the building is of brick construction, laid in English bond, with slate roofs (although the roof to the west has concrete tiles). Surviving windows are timber.

PLAN: the building is two storeys high with a basement beneath the west extension. The original ordnance store has a pitched roof with a stack at each end; the east, west and north extensions all have hipped roofs.

The original ordnance store is three bays wide, with an open floor plate at ground and first floor. The east and west extensions provide a single additional bay to either side, and to the north the later store is three bays wide with a chimney stack to the north. The east and north extensions each have a single room at ground floor; the upper floors and the west extension were not inspected.

ORIGINAL ORDNANCE STORE: at ground floor this has a large segmentally-arched central opening, across which has been inserted a concrete lintel; within the opening is a timber double door. This opening is flanked by a single window opening to the right and a doorway to the left. At first floor there are four window openings. All openings have segmental heads formed of brick headers and a stone sill (lost at ground floor); the windows have been boarded-up. A brick modillion course runs along the width of the store at eaves level.

EAST EXTENSION: this has a single arch-headed doorway and a window at first floor which has a gauged segmental arch and a stone sill. The flank elevation has three windows at first floor with gauged segmental arches and stone sills. The ground floor brickwork in this flank wall is red brick and is possibly part of the boundary wall of the yard adjacent to the store, which was latterly incorporated into the coal yard within the barracks site. A modern door with a concrete lintel has been inserted into this wall. Other than this door, all other external openings have been boarded up.

WEST EXTENSION: this is heavily covered in vegetation, which obscures much of the south and west elevations, however it is known to have a single window opening at first floor to the south, and three openings at first floor to the west; these are all believed to have gauged segmental arches and stone sills. To the north is an external square brick flue. At first floor there is a single window opening which matches the others and retains its six-over-six pane sash window. At ground floor and basement there are two arch-headed windows with side-hung timber casements and semi-circular transom lights.

NORTH EXTENSION: this has three windows at ground and first floor, with flat gauged brick arches and stone sills. All windows retain their six-over-six pane sash windows.

INTERIOR: the original ordnance store has a stone floor, and an inspection pit which has a timber cover. The first floor is supported on square timber columns with chamfered corners and a simple 'T' capital. Doors interconnect the ordnance store with the eastern extension and the store to the north at both ground and first floor. A hatch gives access to the upper floor. The roof is supported by whitewashed king-post trusses with raked struts. Fireplace openings are generally bare brick, but those at first floor have vestiges of timber surrounds.

At ground floor the east and north extensions are single rooms with timber floors.


Plans of Chatham Infantry Barracks (now Kitchener Barracks) show that the former ordnance store, and an enclosed yard to its east, was built outside the southern boundary wall of the barracks between 1795 and 1805. By 1819 the building had been extended to the east and west; these extensions were subsequently rebuilt or remodelled to take their current form. Additional buildings were constructed to the north prior to 1864; one of these now survives and is interconnected with the original part of the ordnance store.

Chatham Infantry Barracks, was constructed in 1757 to house a permanent garrison responsible for manning the newly created defences for Chatham Dockyard: the Chatham Lines. The barracks were some of the largest purpose-built barracks yet built in the country and by 1776 they were the main recruiting centre for the army; Chatham becoming home to the headquarters of the Inspector General of Recruiting.

From the early 1790s the barracks was divided between the newly created Barrack Department and the Ordnance Board; the space having to be shared between the troops of the line and the artillery and military artificers. Even after the completion of the new Artillery Barracks (1804-6), the Ordnance Board did not surrender its share of the infantry barracks until 1811. The ordnance store was built outside the barracks wall, most likely to provide the Ordnance Board with storage space in close proximity to Fort Amherst, which, from 1803, was undergoing a major reconfiguration in response to mounting fear of French invasion.

Victory at Waterloo in 1815 brought over 20 years of warfare to an end; the army reduced in size and went back to its traditional roles of defending the sovereign and the realm and of providing overseas garrisons. An 1819 plan and section of the ordnance store held in The National Archives shows what is presumed to be the existing (rather than proposed) additions to the east and west. The key differences between how the building is illustrated in these drawings, and its current form, are the roof forms of the east and west extensions (illustrated as lean-to roofs in 1819, but actually now hipped roofs), and the existence of chimney stacks, which are not illustrated in the drawings. The drawings also indicate that part of the eastern addition was already in use as an office by this date, and that the purpose of the drawings was to request that part of the building be given over to provide an officer's reading room, and part to be used as a committee room. These drawings can be seen to reflect the changing priorities at the infantry barracks as it settled into fulfilling its peace-time role. It is interesting to have evidence of the request for a reading room, which appears in a small way to pre-empt the changing attitude towards the intellectual improvement of men which later emerged through the nation-wide barrack reform agenda of the mid-C19, and which was to result in much more radical change at the infantry barracks.

Various C19 plans of the barracks show parts of the building variously in office, domestic and storage use, and during the inter-war period it was converted to married quarters.

Reasons for Listing

The former ordnance store of c1800 with later C19 additions, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Date: it is a pre-1840 building which retains the core of its historic fabric from its primary phase;
* Architectural interest: despite its modest nature, through features such as its open floor-plate, timber columns, and substantial, exposed, roof trusses, the building retains the distinctive form and character of its original function as a military store;
* Historic interest: the building's construction is within a phase of intense military activity in Chatham, particularly around Fort Amherst, at a time when Chatham was a primary military base, key to the country's defence should a French invasion come;
* Group value and local context: the building has a close physical, functional, and historic connection to key contemporary (designated) elements of a militarised landscape of considerable national significance.

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