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Coastal Battery Portkil

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Upper gun emplacement, 2007, Fox
Upper emplacement

The remains of a coastal defence battery, the Portkil Battery can be found at the end of Fort Road, off Shore Road, southeast of Kilcreggan on the Rosneath peninsula, Argyll and Bute.

Much of the battery remains, and the area is now residential, with houses having been built on some parts of the site, incorporating some parts of the original battery structure into their build. Some of the magazines have also been restored, and are used as holiday accommodation. Care must therefore be taken to respect the privacy of the residents if visiting the area.

Early history

The battery originally dates from 1900, and is listed by the Palmerston Forts Society as predating World War I by some 14 years.[1]

An article from The Times of January 21, 1901, confirms the original date of not only the battery at Portkil, referred to then as a fort at Kilcreggan, but also that of the Coastal Battery Ardhallow:

The Aitkenhead Builders, Greenock, received an intimation on Saturday from the Government that their offer to erect a new fort at Ardhallow, Dunoon, on the Clyde, has been accepted, the price being £16,000. The same firm are at present erecting a fort at Kilcreggan, also on the Clyde.

The Times. January 21, 1901.

The battery is described as having had two 6-inch MkVII/II guns (numbered 2406 and 2384) and two 4.7-inch QF (quick firing) VB/V guns installed during 1904. The 6-inch guns were removed in October 1916 and taken to the Coastal Battery Cloch Point, and the 4.7-inch guns were removed in 1928.

World War I

Together with the two 4.7-inch and 6-inch emplacements, the battery was equipped with a battery observation post (BOP), engine room, magazines, and a number of other buildings.

World War II

Although the battery did not return to operation during World War II, the Rosneath peninsula offers easy deep water access, and this feature made it an ideal location for a service base for escort vessels that accompanied the Atlantic convoys, and the peninsula became the site of the Rosneath Naval Base, a large and significant installation which provided support for vessels taking part in the Atlantic convoys.

Six sided pillbox, 2007, Fox
Six sided pillbox, western view

On the shore to the south, a number of pillboxes including engine rooms and searchlight platforms were provided to support the operation of the battery.

Hospital and accommodation

Portkil itself was home to a hospital, classified as a Rest and Recreation Camp, where wounded survivors could rest and recover. Many of its occupants were survivors rescued from vessels attacked while on escort duty in the Atlantic, and it also received many who had survived the D-Day invasion. Troop accommodation was under canvas beside the hospital, while RN personnel were accommodated in the magazines and building of the old battery, and in some of the local houses.

Many of features described were visible on aerial photographs taken during 1948.

Although not particularly clear from current aerial views, this facility is believed to have been located in the general area marked as an Accommodation Camp on the view below. Over the years, evidence of the site has been eroded, although as the picture gallery shows, some remains can still be identified on the ground. Fir trees that grew in the area have been felled, and portions of the access roads have been obscured by bulldozing of rubbish and debris, and local farms using the area for manure storage has resulted in further obscuration.

Development

Argyll and Bute Council web site shows approval of a planning application for: "Erection of dwelling house with integral double garage, installation of sewerage treatment plant. Land At Former Gun Site Fort Road Kilcreggan Argyll And Bute", granted on 08 Jun8, 2012.[2]

The area referred to lies south east of marker Rc 4.7-inch emplacements shown on the map below.

Photographs

Second upper emplacements
Second upper emplacement
 
Lower emplacements, 2007, Fox
Lower emplacement
 
Unrestored upper magazine, 2007, Fox
Unrestored upper magazine
 
Unrestored lower magazine, 2007, Fox
Unrestored lower magazine
 
Restored lower magazine, now holiday accommodation, 2007, Fox
Restored lower magazine
now holiday accommodation


References

1 The Palmerston Forts Society

2 12/00693/PP | Erection of dwelling house with integral double garage, installation of sewerage treatment plant. | Land At Former Gun Site Fort Road Kilcreggan Argyll And Bute Retrieved March 26, 2013.

External links

Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-


Aerial views


Map

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