Friday, 17 January 2014

Berry Head Napoleonic Fort


Berry Head was a Napoleonic Fort built to defend Torbay from the French, and was once an iron age fort. There are still the ruins of two large Napoleonic fortifications; North Fort and South Fort which are now Scheduled Ancient Monuments. All this sits in the Berry Head National Nature Reserve.

The South Fort

Layout of the South Fort from the Berry Head Visitor Information Boards

The Guardhouse and the Powder Magazine buildings which are just as you step across the moat and drawbridge

 Ramparts of the South Fort

Lichen and plants growing on the top of the rampart walls

 The kitchen building and the lookout pole

The Powder Magazine which has 4 foot thick walls

The Fort was built to establish a coastal defensive gun battery on the headland at Berry Head.

The North Fort



The Napoleonic Fort Guardhouse 1802, Grade 2 listed building, now a lovely visitor centre and cafe

 Love this photo with the ship in the distance and the dog on the grass


Looking across to Berry Head from the Coastal Path

A view through the ramparts to Torquay
 
There was accommodation for up to 600 infantry militiamen and artillerymen forming the garrison. Overcrowded squalid conditions were reported with wives and children crowded into one room with a curtain for privacy. There was very limited open space and poor ventilation. No toilet/washing facilities were provided inside the barracks and a wooden tub placed in the centre of the room served as a urinal at night. Records from the time show higher than usual mortality among the soldiers’ children at Berry Head.


After a hundred and twenty-five years, the Second World War brought the Army back to the Forts.  It served three main purposes:
a signal station
an anti-aircraft gun site
an aircraft reporting post

A Royal Observer Corps post (underground bunker) was installed and to be used to monitor and report radioactive fall-out following a nuclear attack.

The R.O.C. post was adapted from one of the surviving roofless stone buildings, being given a protective cover with observation slits. 


Hopefully these photos will give you an idea of the scale of the Nature Reserve and the lovely areas where everyone comes to stretch their legs




Images from the top of Berry Head which is 200 feet up the cliff face 




...and just in case you didn't believe me, here I am standing on the edge looking down at some walkers on the rocks below. It wasn't a windy day!
 


Beautiful view out across Torbay from the end of Berry Head
 


 The Breakwater


Some of my feathered friends having a rest as I walked back home along the coastal path, I wonder if any of them are my rescued chicks?


I have been away in London with work which has taken time out of my week, preparing and travelling, not to mention recovering....it's such a busy, noisy place!

Anyway I hope to catch up with everyones posts over the next few days

Have a good weekend
SeagullSuzie

22 comments:

  1. This was so interesting and so beautiful!! Thank you for sharing this. Hope that things are a little less hectic for you over the weekend and next week. xx

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    1. Thank you Amy, I'm having a nice rest, reading everyone's recent posts and keeping out of the horrible rain today.

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  2. I remember going there as a child
    Julie xxxxx

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    1. Hi Julie, it gets very busy there now as it has become more popular especially due to the cafe.

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  3. There's a lot more to Berry Head than I thought. Brave, getting so close to the edge!

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    1. Normally hubby would be holding on to me but I went for a walk with my neighbour. Often there is no point getting the shot as there is nothing to bring it into perspective, but those people look so small. I'm surprised that more people, animals and children don't fall off the edge!

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  4. The views from Berry Head are wonderful. I love the sunshine and blue seas and skies in your lovely pics. The conditions in the 18th/19th century fort sound dreadful, such a contrast to the fresh sea air and beauty outside. It is interesting that this defence in one form or another has stood for hundreds of years, but not anymore.

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    1. Thanks Wendy. When I was reading up on the information about the camps I was surprised at the conditions and health records, as you would expect it to have been much better for the children, with fresh air and an open environment. I think the cold war bunkers are amazing-they just stick out of the grass like a submarine coming to the surface.

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  5. I loved the way you have captured the ramparts and the views. Your pictures brought back memories of our walk by there last February. My Dad spent part of the Second World War further down the coast closer to Plymouth defending the coast. I am off to London for the day next week for the day and will feel the same as you! Sarah x

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    1. Hello Sarah, I hope your London trip goes well. There is still so much more to photograph at Berry Head, but I've been saving this subject for the winter months.

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  6. A really interesting post with some great photos and superb views. Berry Head sounds a wonderful place to visit. I hope you have a lovely and relaxing weekend recovering from the London trip.

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    1. Many thanks, I had to wait quite a few times for all the visitors to get out of shot, and in some I've cropped them out! It was a lovely sunny day last Saturday and I think everyone was desperate for a walk in the sunshine.

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  7. Recalling Berry Head serves for me a frightening memory. That of being a passenger in a car that almost reversed over it's southern edge. Even now it is not something I wish to contemplate and in writing this I involuntary shiver .

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    1. Oh no, that sound terrible. I would like to assure you that cars are not allowed near the edges anymore. However we regularly see reports in the news here of cars ending up hanging off the promenades-but at least it's only a few feet drop onto sand, rather than 200 ft.

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  8. What a lovely day for photos. You are fortunate to have all that on your doorstep. A perfect way to unwind after a busy period in London :-)

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    1. I do love Berry Head, it was busy when I went with everyone enjoying the sunshine, but mostly it's quiet in the winter and so relaxing. Sometimes hubby and I will make tea and toast and walk to Berry Head for breakfast.

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  9. What a fascinating post, and I have to say it's a beautiful spot. It must have been very difficult living there with family members though, back in the Napoleonic times, and no wonder infant mortality was so high. Superb views and now it helps its community in another guise as a nature reserve.

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    1. It must have been very exposed living there-in those days with no modern clothing, but the conditions were worse than in other camps-which is strange, maybe something to do with the confined space of the land mass.

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  10. An interesting post and nicely illustrated with lovely photos :-) The hardships endured by the soldiers and their families must have been dreadful, especially in Napoleonic times, but it is heartening to see that a former military site has become part of a nature reserve :-)

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    1. I would have thought they'd have been better off at least out of the cities and with all that fresh air, but apparently not.
      Berry Head is really spectacular.

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  11. Went there Easter Friday.
    Couldn't help notice that the car park charges have already been put up to catch the tourists.
    Great pity that they couldn't be bothered to unlock the toilets in the car park - it's adding insult to injury!!!!!

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    1. Hello Dennis. Yes car parking charges are higher now, but at least it's not Torbay taking all the money to spend on themselves. All the profits from this parking go to the management of Berry Head and it is still free to visit. It also supports Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust who do a fantastic job despite all the budget cuts from Torbay. If it wan't for them Torbay would have sold off all the land to build houses. Unfortunately the toilets have suffered from budget cuts too as staff numbers have dropped. However The Guardhouse Cafe and visitor centre does have toilets-a bit of a walk from the car park though!

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