Lodge Hill

Posted on November 19, 2023 / 4
Location : England

Lodge Hill and Chattenden Military Camps were an extension of the old gunpowder magazines built on the banks of the River Medway adjacent to Upnor Castle.  The gunpowder stores at Upnor Castle were originally built in 1667 and then expanded until 1857 when they could hold over 23,000 barrels of gunpowder.  With the increasing demand for the storage of explosives including gun cotton and later cordite, a new site was needed.  In 1875 five magazines were built in Chattenden with a nearby barracks for a guard detail of 120 men.  A narrow gauge railway linked these magazines to the original Uponor site.

In 1891 the decision was made to remove Naval Ordnance Depots from the direct control of the War Department who continued to manage the Army explosive stores.  With this split, Upnor went under Navy control and the Army took over the Chattenden Magazines.  This left the Royal Navy with insufficient space, so in 1899 they started to develop a site adjacent to Chattenden, now known as the Lodge Hill site.  At this stage, Lodge Hill was known as the Chattenden Royal Ordnance Depot.  However, in 1903 the Royal Navy took control of the Army Chattenden Magazines as well, and the three locations became Royal Naval Ordnance Depots.


With the advent of the airship (Zeppelins) before World War I, the British Authorities became concerned about aerial attack on the military instillations around Chatham.  In 1912 or 1913 the decision was made to build an anti-aircraft battery on Lodge Hill.  This was probably the first Anti Aircraft Battery built in the United Kingdom and possibly the World.  The site still survives but is in need of some restoration.

The battery mounted one 3-pdr Quick Fire guns in a pit to the North and a single 1-pdr Pom-Pom to the South of the magazine building.  There was a defensible barracks with caponier on the West side and on the East side a blockhouse (crew shelter).  The whole battery was enclosed with a wall.   The gun pit was surrounded with a concrete blast wall and then a trench with three expense lockers.  The gun was on a concrete pedestal in the centre.  For more information see the English Heritage paper here.

This early Anti Aircraft Battery shows many of the attributes that would later be used in World War for the numerous 2.7-inch AA Batteries.  The use of the different guns dovetails nicely with the subsequent use of the 3.7-inch AA gun and 40-mm Bofors.

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