Brixham Battery

This section describes Brixham Battery and what there is to see there today.


Brownstone Battery  looking across Start Bay towards Slapton Sands

 

View from main communications post looking across Start Bay towards Slapton Sands. The original blast doors can be seen.

Part of a firing unit lying partly unearthed

 

The main communications post is now used by volunteers from Coastwatc.

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How to get there

I suggest you buy the 1:25000 Ordanance Survey 'Explorer' map, number OL20. Brownstone Battery is at GR 903496.

Follow the signs to Kingswear, turning left at Nethway Cottage to follow the signs to Coleton Fishacre ( a National Trust site).

Continue past the entrance to the site and continue to the car park. From here the battery is just over a 1 mile walk.

The battery also lies on the South Devon Coastal Path.

The walk from the car park is flat for the first mile, but then the road, which was built by the military to service the battery, slopes steeply.

Of the 116 emergency Coastal Defence Batteries built in 1940 only 7 remain, and the coast between Torquay and Dartmouth can boast 2 of these. One is at Brixham, with the other being at the mouth of the river Dart at Inner Froward Point.

Brownstone Battery was built in 1940, at the peak of the fear of invasion by Nazi troops, as a defence against German naval attack.

The site has a commanding view across Start Bay, where during the spring of 1944 its crew would have had a commanding view of the US amphibious exercises at Slapton Sands.

Images of the forward observation post

The site was equipped with two six-inch guns taken from a First World War battleship, with each gun having a range of over 14 miles. These operated in tandem with a powerful searchlight situated close to the high water mark.

Brownstone Battery was manned by approximately 230 soldiers of the 52nd Bedfordshire Yeomanry Regiment between 1940 and 1942. Once the threat of invasion had subsided, these troops moved to Lancashire to form a field battery unit, and the site became manned by the Home Guard until the end of the war.

The Battery consisted of two gun positions, two searchlight positions and a variety of other buildings, including an observation post, generator room, ammunition store, accommodation block, latrines, general store and mess rooms, most of which can still be seen.

The guns were still in place in 1951, being finally decommissioned in 1956, when it was returned to the estate of Higher Brownstone from whom it had been requisitioned. The area has been owned by the National Trust since 1982, being sited within the Froward Point Site of Special Scientific Interest and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Dartmouth Defences

Dartmouth Castle on the west side of the river had a battery of 4.7inch guns and there was an anti-aircraft gun site on Jawbones Hill behind the town. In addition on the Kingswear side there was a machine gun post at Kingswear Castle and a land based torpedo launching site below Kingswear Court.

Dartmouth was bombed on more than one occasion and both the town and Phillips Shipyard suffered considerable damage with loss of life.