Lodge Hill Anti-Aircraft Site

Sitting within the Medway District, the anti-aircraft emplacement at Lodge Hill is seen as having national significance, and as such was scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (reference) in 2012, and it is believed that this site, and its ‘sister’ site at Beacon Hill are the earliest examples of anti-aircraft defences in Britain. The site is now over 100 years old, being constructed around 1913, it was later re-armed during the Second World War twenty years after construction. This site, along with the emplacements (no longer extant) at Beacon Hill, and a number of other Grade II listed sentry posts at Lodge Hill and Chattenden form a formidable set of First World War defences almost unique to this area built to protect the nearby ordnance depots. Initially the site would have housed around 35 men, 11 each to man the 6 inch breech loaded howitzers, with the remainder in command and control functions. Later on in its service the site was fitted with a 3 inch quick-firing (QF) gun and a 1 pounder 37mm quick-firing Pom-Pom gun. By 1917 the site had been disarmed and appeared not to be in use.

With a new lease of life in WW2, the site housed a Z-battery of anti-aircraft rockets, prompting some modification and reworking of the existing structures; the rocket battery was housed to the west of the site, and the southern emplacement had been mostly demolished at this stage.

I have visited this site a couple of times now, taking photographs of the existing works. Below are some of the images I took.

A low level aerial photograph of the Lodge Hill site.
A low level aerial photograph of the Lodge Hill site. You can clearly identify the arrow shaped Defensible Barrack block to the left with the Latrine Block projecting north at the top of the building. The ‘L’ shaped building in the centre of the compound is the Ammunition, Artillery Store and Officer Quarters. To the right of the image is the War Shelter; a strong defensible block house to be used in the event of the site being attacked by ground troops. The northern emplacement can be seen to the top of the cluster, retaining its original perimeter wall, while the south emplacement has been mostly demolished with the exception of the base. Notably to the north, the very top of this picture is a large square, concrete base, which may have been the Z-battery base, added during the Second World War.
Lodge Hill Anti-Aircraft site
Lodge Hill Anti-Aircraft site as vowed from the access road, facing north-west. The War Shelter is clearly visible to the right of the image, with the small rifle holes in the walls. The commanding location of this site can be seen from its location on the highest part of a ridge, with the ground falling away behind to the valley below. Behind the photographer is the Lodge Hill ammunition depot. The red-brick building is the Artillery and Ammunition Store, with the defensible accommodation block to the left.
Here is a good view of the Artillery and Ammunition Store in the centre of the image.
Here is a good view of the Artillery and Ammunition Store in the centre of the image, showing the remains of the 1lb QF Pom-Pom gun emplacement in the foreground.
The Defensible Barrack.
The Officers Quarters within the Artillery and Ammunition Store. The commanding view over the estuary to the rear is seen.
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The Defensible Barrack as seen from the northern end, the two windows look into the Latrine Block.
The external windows on the Defensible Barrack were fitted with steel shutters, each with a loophole for firing the rifle. These windows faced west.
The external windows on the Defensible Barrack were fitted with steel shutters, each with a loophole for firing the rifle. These windows faced west.
The War Shelter.
The War Shelter. The shelter had rifle slits in the external walls, a set of steel doors (the original ones can be seen in the image) and a glass block skylight in the roof. The floor would have been timber, with some of the original features still visible. This shelter was modified in WW2 as an ammunition store, onto which it appears the external shuttering for the steel doors was added.
Air Raid Shelter
Outside the compound was what appears to be the contemporary WW1 Air Raid Shelter for the site. Under the steel cover (added at a later date) is a set of steps down to the corrugated steel lined shelter.
A later addition to the site was this gas decontamination building, added during the sites use in WW2 as a Z-battery.
A later addition to the site was this gas decontamination building, added during the sites use in WW2 as a Z-battery.

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