As part of the Defending the Clyde project, the team travelled last week to Dunoon, to record the remains of Ardhallow coastal battery, including its landward defences.
The battery once housed a 9.2-inch gun and two 6-inch guns, overlooking Cloch and Ardgowan to the east and defending the important port and ship-building centre on the Clyde. The construction of the battery began in 1901 and was completed in 1905. Upon firing test rounds, the 9.2-inch gun caused much damage to houses to the south of the battery, apparently blowing out windows. Consequently the 9.2 was withdrawn in 1906 and dismounted in 1911, however, the two 6-inch guns remained in place and the battery remained in use right through the Second World War, and indeed until Coast Artillery was abolished in Britain in 1956.
Today the battery sits within private property. The underground magazine stores have now been filled in, but the emplacements are still partially visible and the Battery Command Post survives in good condition, now utilised as a rather impressive kids clubhouse.
On arrival, the site felt almost tropical with warm weather and frequent showers, the vegetation lush, the midges out in force and, much to my dismay, an alarming number of cave spiders in the basement floor of the command post building. It was, however, a successful field trip, with the battery command post the focus of detailed building survey – revealing at least three phases of modification and construction. Photographic survey was undertaken and the wider War Department Property boundary investigated, noting and surveying the visible surviving features relating to the battery. These included war department boundary stones, sentry posts and well preserved trenches. Targeted areas within the forestry estate to the west were also covered to investigate the blockhouses and trenches that were constructed to protect the battery from possible landward attack. Four of these were located, comprising of large earthen mounds on which the blockhouses would have stood.
Over the coming months the photographs, site descriptions and plans from our Ardhallow survey will be made available on Canmore, check back for results!