Number 1 Gun Position West, St Martins Battery, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

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Comments (3)

John Latter on December 30, 2010

This is the front of Number 1 Gun position, viewed from the west, of St Martin's Battery on the Western Heights (1) overlooking the Western Docks area of Dover Harbour, England.

The remains of a gun mounting and traversing ring can be seen as a circle of short vertical rods on the concrete apron just right of bottom-centre.

The Battery's Numbers 2 and Number 3 Guns are out-of-shot to the right.

The photo was taken on Boxing Day, 2010.

The existing St Martin's Battery photos on this website were taken in 2007 and are all being updated with better quality images. The 2007 equivalent to the photo on this page is No.1 Gun, St Martin`s Battery, Western Heights, Dover (in which the gun position appears "cropped" because it isn't a wide-angle shot).

Links to the new photos will either appear either in this text or in subsequent "Comments".

Standard Information

The commanding aspect St Martin's Battery has over the harbour, Straits of Dover, and English Channel is shown in the Daniel L Gibson Relief Lifeboat, Dover Marina photo.

The view from St Martin's Battery is "indicated" in Sea-Fog entering the Tidal Harbour of Dover Marina because of the weather, but you'll get the idea!

Click to see all photos of St Martin`s Battery.

The original Victorian St Martin's Battery was constructed in the 1870's (see below) and in 1890 (dates vary) a tunnel was dug into the hillside at the rear of the Battery to form an underground ammunition store. The battery remained in use until 1908.

In 1940, during the Second World War (2), St Martin's Battery was brought back into service and renamed the "Western Heights Emergency Coastal Battery" (sometimes abbreviated to "Western Heights Battery"). The ammunition store at the rear was developed into a deep shelter and the battery "is referenced as being manned by 414 Coast Battery (Royal Artillery) between March 1941 and April 1942." (3)

Useful rule of thumb when visiting the location: the 1870's construction is identified by yellow brickwork, that of the1940's by red.

The English Heritage Pastscape entry for St Martin's Battery (3) reads:

Alt: Western Heights Emergency Coastal Battery

A coast artillery battery, constructed between 1874 and 1877, comprising emplacements for three 10-inch RML (rifle muzzle-loading) guns mounted en barbette (4) in open emplacements with bomb-proofed ammunition stores between. The battery remained in use until the RMLs were withdrawn in 1908. In 1940, the battery was brought back into service as an emergency battery for three 6-inch Mk VII guns, following extensive alterations to provide three covered gunhouses with integral gun detachment shelters and stores. This battery remained active until late in 1944, and in care and maintenance until decommissioning in 1947.

St Martin's Battery, although owned by Dover District Council, is listed on Pastscape and is therefore tagged as one of Dover's English Heritage sites.

(1) In addition to St Martin's Battery, Dover's Napoleonic and Victorian 'Forgotten Fortress' on the Western Heights also includes the Drop Redoubt, Grand Shaft, North Centre Bastion, North Entrance, North Military Road, Outer Bastion, Pre-Napoleonic Earthworks, and The 64 Steps.

(2) "Dover in World War Two: 1942" is a ten minute British Ministry of Information film, released by the US Office of War Information, and narrated by the American journalist, Edward R. Murrow. A costal defence gun - similar to those installed at St Martin's Battery - is shown "in action" 7 minutes (and 3 seconds) after the video starts.

Click to see a still photo from the film: Shore Battery in Action, Dover at War 1942 Video.

(3) Pastscape entry for St Martins Battery

(4) En barbette: "Said of guns when they are elevated so as to fire over the top of a parapet, and not through embrasures."

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on December 30, 2010

Click to see Number 1 Gun Position, St Martin`s Battery from the east (ie to the right - from the other side of the concrete apron).

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 27, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2010/12/26 11:51:50
    • Exposure: 0.005s (1/200)
    • Focal Length: 18.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/11.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: -0.70 EV
    • No flash

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