Garrison Point Fort
Garrison Point Fort was built in the 1860’s on the site of earlier fortifications dating back to Henry VIII. In 1667 amid fears of a Dutch attack, a new fort was begun but remained incomplete; the Dutch launched a surprise attack, capturing the unfinished defences. They destroyed the work that had been done, then quickly moved on to their main objective, the naval dockyard a Chatham and completed their victory. This was embarrassing both to the Admiralty and to Britain’s political and military standing in Europe.
As a direct result of this humiliating episode, a large bastioned fort was very quickly designed, complete with batteries protecting the entrance to the Medway, three more batteries on the coastal shore (later known at the Indented Lines) and a further battery to protect the dockyard itself. Two bastions protected the landward side. A great deal of this fortification was demolished between 1813 and 1827 while the dockyard underwent a major rebuilding programme.
Towards the end of this period, concern over the defence of Sheerness was raised, although nothing was done until the Royal Commission Report of 1860, which was a direct response to renewed threat of French invasion under Napoleon III. This report called for the construction of a new casemated fort at Garrison Point and was completed by 1869 at a grand total of over £150,000 – double the original estimate.
The fort was armed with RMLs of varying sizes and in 1885 the experimental Brennan Torpedo system launching apparatus was constructed. This system was not entirely successful and was obsolete by the early 20th century.
World War I brought a radical change of armament to Garrison Point Fort in the shape of 2 6” RBLs and 2 Quick firing (QF) guns. This was reduced during the inter-war years and reassessed again at the beginning of World War II with the addition of two 6 pounder guns.
Garrison Point Fort remained in use until coastal artillery was disbanded in 1956. Fortifications such as Garrison Point had been rendered obsolete with the advent of air warfare, and in particular the expectation at the time that the next military exchange would be a nuclear one.
The dockyard itself closed only a few years after the fort and the site in its entirety came under the management of the Medway Ports Authority. Although Garrison Point Fort is largely unused and neglected, the main structure itself remains sound and in places many original features are still in place. It has been granted the status of a Scheduled Ancient Monument which has secured the fort’s future protection.
Location: Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey
Date Of Visit: 03/04/04