Harwich Redoubt

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Harwich Redoubt is a circular fort built in 1808 to defend the port of Harwich, Essex from Napoleonic invasion. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_0

The Harwich Society opens it to the public. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_1

Construction Harwich Redoubt_section_0

The Redoubt was built between 1808 and 1810 to protect the port of Harwich against the threat of Napoleonic invasion. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_2

It was part of the scheme that included the construction of 29 Martello Towers on the East Anglian coast. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_3

The Redoubt is of circular shape, approximately 200 ft in diameter, with a central parade ground of 85 ft diameter. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_4

Hoists lifted shells from the lower level to the gun emplacements. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_5

It is similar in design to earlier redoubts at Dymchurch and Eastbourne. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_6

Though difficult to imagine as it is now surrounded by houses, when the Redoubt was built it was on a hill top with free views in all directions. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_7

A house was demolished to make way for the Redoubt, and a large elm tree - used by ships as a navigational mark - was also removed. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_8

It is said that French prisoners of war were made to help in the construction. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_9

Military service Harwich Redoubt_section_1

Originally armed with ten 24-pounder cannon, the Redoubt was remodelled in order to accommodate increasingly heavy guns, as technology and the perceived threat changed. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_10

In 1861-2, work was carried out to accommodate 68-pounder cannon, and the emplacements were strengthened (by adding granite facing) to withstand improved enemy artillery. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_11

Only a decade later in 1872, three of the emplacements were altered to take enormous 12 ton RML (rifled muzzle loading) guns. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_12

In 1903, three emplacements received 12 pounder QF (quick firing) guns. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_13

Despite this ongoing modernisation, the Redoubt never fired a shot in anger. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_14

It is also probable that its strategic importance declined towards the end of the 19th century with the construction of the more powerful Beacon Hill Battery just to the south. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_15

In the 1920s the area around the Redoubt - previously kept clear to provide fields of fire - was bought by the Town Council. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_16

This land is used for allotments. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_17

The Redoubt itself was allowed to fall into disrepair. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_18

The Redoubt was briefly taken back into military service during World War II, when it was used as an anti-aircraft site and it also served as a detention centre for British troops awaiting trial. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_19

Examples of the graffiti left by the soldiers can still be seen in some of the rooms. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_20

Following World War II the Redoubt was used by the British Civil Defence organisation, who used it until they were disbanded. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_21

That was the end of the Redoubt's military service. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_22

Restoration Harwich Redoubt_section_2

Following a listing as an Ancient Monument, the restoration of the Harwich Redoubt began in July 1969 and has continued until the present day. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_23

When restoration began, one of the 9-inch 12 ton RML guns was discovered buried in the (dry) moat - it had been pushed in when it became obsolete, as they were too large and solidly constructed to be broken up for scrap. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_24

Currently open as a museum, the Redoubt is the largest ancient monument in the UK being restored by a voluntary group. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_25

In addition to some of the original guns that armed the Redoubt, including the 9-inch RML, there are a number of other guns on display. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_26

Around the parade ground on the lower level, the various rooms are either fitted out in reconstruction of how they might have looked, or are used as display rooms for other exhibitions. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_27

Exhibitions include a large number of replica firearms. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_28

Battle re-enactments and other events are held during the summer months. Harwich Redoubt_sentence_29


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harwich Redoubt.