Historic England has provided a grant of over £70,000 to the Forestry Commission for emergency works to Bouldnor Battery on the Isle of Wight, to prevent further deterioration of the site.
Bouldnor Battery is 1 of 11 fortifications which formed an important military strategic coastal defence system guarding the Solent, Southampton and Portsmouth Harbour during the Second World War. The construction of the reinforced concrete battery started in 1936 and even includes a painted diagram of enemy ships by an unknown artist. The site itself sits just off the Isle of Wight coastal path and although there is currently no public access, after a series of landscaping activities by the Forestry Commission the site can now glimpsed from the coastal path.
The grant from Historic England is allowing the Forestry Commission to make urgent repairs to the battery which has been largely redundant since 1955. Emergency steel propping to hold the failing concrete structure and a new waterproof covering is providing some much needed protection to the building using local contractors GJ Banks of Cowes.
Clare Charlesworth, Heritage at Risk Principal Adviser for Historic England in the South East said:
“We are delighted to be supporting this important site on the Isle of Wight. Without our grant there was a real risk of further deterioration and even collapse of parts of the structure. The military heritage of the Isle of Wight is a significant reminder of the importance of this stretch of Britain’s coastline during the Second World War as well as reflecting the local history of the Isle of Wight Rifles.
“We look forward in continuing to work in partnership with the Forestry Commission to safeguard this piece of heritage for the future”.
Bruce Rothnie, Deputy Surveyor for the Forestry Commission, said:
“We hope this project will shine a light on this fascinating building and we are keen to hear more from local people whose stories about the battery have been invisible for so long.
“We are very grateful to Historic England for helping to fund the first phase of this important work to make sure this monument is still standing today. This couldn’t have been achieved without the assistance of Forestry Commission staff and huge number of partners that supported the preservation of the monument”.
While repair work is taking place Historic England and the Forestry Commission would welcome any information or reminiscences from members the public, especially from anyone involved in the construction or manning of the battery. It is hoped that in the future nearby information panels will help people to find out more about the site and the building. Any information can be shared on Twitter to @HE_SouthEast.