RENNEY POINT BATTERY

and LENTNEY BATTERY

Renney Point Battery and Lentney Battery were built upon the cliffs overlooking the eastern approaches to Plymouth Sound. Constructed in 1905, they were equipped with heavy, breach loading weapons capable of engaging armoured battleships. The batteries saw service during both World Wars.

History

 

Introduction

 

Plymouth Sound had been the recipient of a substantial fort building programme in the 1860s/1870s as the Government sought to protect the Royal Navy dockyard at Devonport from a new breed of warship, the Ironclad. The first such seagoing warship, 'La Gloire' (the Glory), was launched by France in 1858 and instantly rendered the wooden sailing ships of the Royal Navy obsolete which prompted fears of invasion. A Royal Commission was established to review coastal defence and it was that body which recommended fortifying both the land and sea approaches to the dockyard. The primary sea defences - Fort Bovisand, Drake Island Battery, Garden Battery and Picklecombe Fort - were all built with their guns enclosed in armoured casemates designed to withstand an artillery exchange with an armoured warship. The casemates allowed the guns, the vast majority of which were muzzle loading, to be re-armed in safety but the downside was they were slow to fire and the casemates quickly filled with smoke that was difficult to extract. Even as the forts were being completed, it quickly became apparent that open Barbette gun emplacements were much better than casemates and the development (and mass procurement) of breach loading weapons meant such arrangements became viable from the late 1880s onwards. Renney Point Battery and Lentney Battery were two such additions.

 

Renney Point Battery (1905)

 

Renney Point Battery was built between 1905 and 1906 to provide protection to the eastern approaches into Plymouth Sound (Penlee Battery provided protection of the western portion). It was fitted with three 9.2inch Breach Loading guns which had been specifically designed for engaging armoured battleships. Anti-personnel defences, including infantry blockhouses and an unclimbable fence, were added following the outbreak of World War I. It remained armed throughout the inter-war years with two searchlights added in 1933. Upon the outbreak of World War II it was fitted with long range mountings increasing the range of its guns to almost 20 miles. Additionally weaponry was also fitted consisting of two 60-pounders, one 6-pounder, two anti-aircraft 40mm Bofors and two mortars. The weapons fit was scaled back to just the three 9.2inch Breach Loading guns after the war and the battery was completely disarmed in 1957. The site was retained by the Ministry of Defence as a training establishment until 1991.

 

Lentney Battery

 

Built in 1905, Lentney Battery hosted short range weaponry intended to complement the long range guns installed at Renney Point. Originally intended to be fitted with three gun positions, ultimately only two emplacements were completed each of which were equipped with a 6-inch Breach Loading gun. Accommodation was incorporated into the facility and shared with the garrison manning Renney Point Battery. Following the outbreak of World War I, an infantry blockhouse and unclimbable fence were added. However, after the war upgrades to Watch House Battery made Lentney superfluous and it was disarmed in 1930. It was reactivated during World War II but predominantly used as a training battery for the garrison at Fort Staddon and the Coastal Artillery school at the Royal Citadel. Two 6-inch Breach Loading guns, one twin-6-pounder Quick Firing Gun and two 12-pounder Quick Firing Guns were installed at this time. After the war the site was briefly used to test captured German military equipment and was decommissioned in 1956.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Dyer, N (2014). British Fortification in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inky Little Fingers Ltd.

Historic England (2014). Battery, List Entry 1270701. Historic England, London.

Historic England (2014). Battery, List Entry 1108570. Historic England, London.

Kinross, J (1999). The Palmerston Forts of the South West: Why were they built? BBNO Battery Books.

HM Stationery Office (1860). Reports from Commissioners: Sixteen Volumes: Coal Mines, Inland Revenue, Post Office, Ordnance Survey, Defences of the United Kingdom. London.

Marriott, L (2015). West Country Forts and Castles. Air Sea Media.

Moore, D (2011). Arming the Forts. Speedyprint, Gosport.

Moore, D (2010). Lentney Battery. victorianforts.co.uk

Moore, D (2010). Renney Point Battery. victorianforts.co.uk

Pye, A (1996). The Historic Defences of Plymouth. Cornwall County Council.

Woodward, F.W (1997). Forts or Follies? Palmerston Forts. Halsgrove.

What's There?

Renney Point Battery consists of the concrete remains of three gun emplacements. The battery is on private land with no public access although the rear of the site can be seen from the road. Lentney Battery is overgrown but both emplacements are visible and the supporting magazines/barracks are accessible.

Renney Point Battery. The three gun battery was originally equipped with 9.2-inch breach loading weapons. After modifications made during World War II, they had a range of over 20 miles. Today the site is on private land with no public access.

Lentney Battery. The battery had two emplacements.

Lentney Battery Gun Emplacement Fittings. At Lentney Battery the two gun emplacements still have many of their original fittings.

Lentney Battery Magazine. The magazines and barracks were situated below the battery.

Plymouth Sound. The entrance to Plymouth Sound as viewed from the South West Coastal Path near Renney Point Battery. Fort Bovisand (and Staddon Point Battery) can be seen to the right. The observant will also see (from right to left) Drake's Island Battery, Garden Battery, Picklecombe Fort, Breakwater Fort, Maker Height defences, Cawsand Fort, Piers Cellars Torpedo Emplacement and Penlee Point Battery.

Defences of Plymouth Sound. The nineteenth century defences were intended to ensure any enemy force was unable to close within artillery range of the important Royal Navy dockyard in Devonport. Lentney Battery and Renney Point Battery were the last installations to be added (in 1905).

Fixtures and Fittings. Lentney Battery still has many of its original internal fittings.

Getting There

Renney Point Battery and Lentney Battery can be seen/explored from Heybrook Bay which is accessed via Renney Road. There is no dedicated car parking but on-road parking is possible. The batteries can be accessed as detailed below.

Car Parking Option

PL9 0BL

50.322507N 4.113114W

Renney Point Battery

No Postcode

50.321675N 4.115973W

Lentney Battery

No Postcode

50.325313N 4.118521W

Renney Point Battery is on private land with no public access although the remains can be viewed from the rear. After having parked, proceed to the end of Renney Road and turn right onto the road shown below. After 100 metres you will see the gate to Renney Point Battery on your left.

Lentney Battery is found off the South-West Coast Path. Follow that path until you get to the junction seen below left. Follow the new path until you get to a paved track (centre) and then follow that until it terminates and then keep going for a further 50 metres.