Fort Paull, which was originally known as Paull Point Battery, was built in 1861 to defend the approach to the important port at Kingston-upon-Hull. The fortification was later modified to serve as the control centre for a submarine minefield and is now a museum.
During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the primary fortification for the protection of the important port at Kingston-upon-Hull was the Hull Citadel. Located at the mouth of the confluence between the Rivers Hull and Humber, directly adjacent to the town and port, it had been built in 1681 incorporating the earlier Hull Castle and a Tudor blockhouse. During the Napoleonic Wars it was augmented by additional earthwork batteries at Spurn Head and Paull Point. The latter, which is located four miles upstream from the port on the northern banks of the river, was an earthwork battery equipped with six 24-pounder guns. This site had previously been fortified during the Civil War when Royalist forces, who were besieging the pro-Parliamentary town, had built an earthwork fort to prevent supplies being brought up the Humber.
The Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815 and thereafter a long period of peace followed. However, in December 1851 Louis-Napoleon, President of France, declared himself Emperor Napoleon III. This prompted fears in England that there would be a resumption of the Anglo-French wars. These tensions passed quickly as the two countries worked together during the Crimea War (1853-56). However, in 1858 the French launched the world's first seagoing Ironclad warship, 'La Gloire' (the Glory), starting an arms race with Britain. This armoured warship instantly rendered the wooden sailing ships of the Royal Navy obsolete and prompted fears of invasion. A Royal Commission was established to review coastal defence and that body recommended a vast fort building programme across the country. Although Stallingborough Battery had been built on the North Lincolnshire coast in the late 1850s, the commission felt this small six-gun installation was insufficient to defend the Humber and accordingly Paull Point Battery (which today is known as Fort Paull) was constructed.
The battery was built between 1861 and 1864. It was laid out as an irregular pentagon with its main armament - consisting of nineteen 64-pounder Rifled Muzzle Loading guns - installed in open batteries upon the south, west and eastern ramparts. On its landward side the battery was protected by a dry ditch into which protruded a bastion and two demi-caponiers.
In 1886 the battery was adapted to serve as a submarine mining centre capable of deploying shore controlled, electronically operated mines across the Humber in times of war. A pier was constructed to the north of the fort to support this activity. Shortly after, the weapons fit of the battery was also modified to take into account the development of the Fast Motor Torpedo Boat, high speed vessels that could easily out-manoeuvre the old 64-pounders that were originally installed. Accordingly the existing gun emplacements were demolished and replaced with concrete structures to support three 6-inch guns and two 4.7-inch Quick Firing guns. Around 1907 three electric searchlights were installed along the waterfront which were powered by an electricity generator within the battery.
Paull Point Battery was superseded by other fortifications during World War I. Construction started on two new forts - Bull Sand and Haile Sand - to defend the mouth of the Humber. Whilst work progressed on those structures, a second tier of defences was established consisting of Sunk Island Battery and a newly rebuilt Stallingborough Battery. At Paull Point a Command post was also built to co-ordinate the fire from these two installations. However, the weapons of Paull Point Battery were deemed superfluous and were thereafter simply used for training Territorial Army personnel.
During World War II Paull Point Battery was used as a central ammunition store for the Humber region. It was decommissioned with the termination of coastal defence in 1956 and sold five years later. The site has now been converted into a museum, known as Fort Paull, and hosts a myriad of military themed exhibits.
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Fort Paull is now a military museum and a popular tourist attraction. The gun batteries from the 1894 modifications are visible whilst the magazines and barracks have been adapted to host various exhibitions. Also on display are a variety of military aircraft and vehicles including a Blackburn Beverley transport aircraft.
Paull Point Battery. The battery was configured in a polygonal arrangement. Although originally classified as a battery, the complete circuit of defences is more akin to a fort.
Entrance. The single entrance into the fortification was barred by two iron gates. Note the original name-board - Paull Point Battery - which can be seen to the left of the gates.
Rifled Muzzle Loading gun. This weapon was similar to the original armament of the battery.
Quick Firing gun. In the late nineteenth century the brick built gun embrasures were demolished and replaced with concrete replacements for new, anti-ship Quick Firing guns.
Quick Firing 3.7-inch anti-aircraft gun. This weapon was Britain's primary heavy anti-aircraft gun during World War II.
Perimeter Wall. The loopholed wall on the landward side of the battery.
Blackburn Beverley. The Blackburn Beverley was a transport aircraft in use by the Royal Air Force between 1955 and 1967. They were built in Brough and had made its last flight from Paull Aerodrome.
Humber Defences. Hull was established by Edward I in 1293 and in the decades that followed a town wall was built. Henry VIII constructed a castle and two blockhouses opposite the port in 1542. During the civil war, Hull supported Parliament and temporary defences were constructed around the town to keep back Royalist forces. In 1681 the castle and one of the blockhouses was converted into the Royal Citadel. As developments in artillery continued apace, gun batteries were established upstream and, during WWI, two large forts were built to guard the entrance into the Humber.
UXB. An unexploded German WWII 'Herman' bomb is on display. This bomb was dropped on the premises of Shipham and Co. Engineering in Hull during an air raid in 1942.