Garrison Point Fort

Garrison Point Fort was completed by 1872 on the site of the previous Half Moon and Cavalier Battery. It was built to protect the entrance to the River Medway and to protect the Isle of Grain. It is a granite faced semi-circular fort with the parade ground in the centre and officers quarters to the rear. It has 3 levels, the bottom being underground magazines and the two upper levels being gun casemates. The barrack rooms were found behind the guns in the casemates.

The fort was built to hold 36 guns, and was fitted with either 9” or 12” RMLs (rifle muzzle loaders). These were changed to 9”, 10”, 11” and 12.5” RMLs in 1880. They changed again in 1909 to two 6” BLs (breech loaders) on the roof of the fort and four 12pdr QFs (quick firing guns) in the lower level. The last change was for WWII, they installed two twin 6pdrs on the roof of the fort and one 6pdr out the front of the fort, these remained till 1956.

In 1884 a Brennon Torpedo Station was introduced to the fort, this remained until 1906. There are still remains of the station in evidence. These include, observation posts, control rooms, workshop and a set of torpedo rails.

There was a boom chain from the fort to Grain Tower that held a net in place. The net was used to prevent submarines from passing into the Medway.

You enter the fort through an archway built into the officer’s accommodation, this takes you through onto the parade ground. Directly in front of you and to the west are the two-tiers of casemates, some now blocked and others open. A boarding tunnel from when the passenger ferries used to leave from Sheerness has blocked one of the casemates. To the east is a small tunnel that leads into a traverse with loopholes directed and the approach and entrance of the fort. The traverse has the remains of a slate urinal and toilets along the east wall. The casemates still have remaining evidence of the guns that were installed here.

On the east side of the parade ground you will find a set of steps leading down to the magazines underneath the fort. Down here you will find a corridor that connects the cartridge stores and shell stores. Lighting was from lamps that were placed in light recesses, these were placed from the lighting passage that ran parallel to the main tunnel. The light recesses and lighting windows that were above the corridors would have been covered with glass to prevent a fire. The magazines connected the lighting passage by way of an issue hatch. It is in the lighting passage that you will find shell hoists to pass the shells to the guns above.

Part of the magazines were adapted to be used by the RNXS (Royal Naval Auxiliary Service) as the emergency port control. The RNXS was set up in 1962 to evacuate the major ports and get all large ships far out to sea in the event of a nuclear war. The magazines were fitted with carpets, lighting and an air filtration system. Remains of these can still be seen as well as a kitchen area and EMI (electromagnetic interference) filters. The EMI filters would have diverted the Electromagnetic pulse caused by a nuclear bomb to be diverted so it doesn’t destroy the electrical circuits and systems.

On the roof of the fort are the remains of gun positions, shelters observation posts and brennon torpedo control posts to the front. The gun positions date from the early 1900’s to WWII. Some of the shelters still have the original green painted wooden panelling and benches inside. The observation posts are mostly empty but a lot of the buildings still have the original shuttering on the windows.

Also on the roof are two buildings one was the former Admiralty signal station and the other is the navigational control tower. The navigational tower is used by the harbour master, Medway navigational services, radar station, 24 hour incident room, hydrographic office and pilot station.

A big thankyou to Roger Betts for allowing the use of the main picture!

Designed & built by - Kevin Ali