Site Records

SiteName: Grain Tower Battery


Subbrit site visit May 1996

[Source: Nick Catford]

Grain Tower Battery is located on Grain Spit, a mud flat at the east end of the Isle of Grain, opposite Sheerness Port. The Tower is accessible by a causeway at low tide but at high water it can only be reached by boat; there was originally a jetty alongside the causeway.

Photo: Grain Tower viewed from the causeway
Photo by Nick Catford

Grain Tower was completed in 1855 and is similar to the earlier east coast Martello Towers being externally roughly circular but flattened on the east and north west sides; internally however it is completely circular. The tower has a slight taper towards the top. Externally it is built of granite blocks while inside the construction is of brick. As with the early Martello Towers, a central circular pillar rises from ground floor level to a vaulted ceiling above the first floor. The entrance is at first floor level with a doorway set into the north west side of the tower with a date stone of 1855 above the lintel.

The entrance opens into a small lobby from which brick vaulted stairs go up in two directions within the thickness of the wall. The north-east stairway leads into a small chamber with a semi-circular vaulted ceiling. The room contains a slate water tank supported on bricks.

The other stairway leads to a small landing. From here another flight of stairs decends sharply and enters the main body of the tower, near the foot of the stairs is a small vaulted room that was originally a latrine.

Photo:4.7 QF gun position (Gun No. 1).showing holdfast with ammunition lockers underneath and stairs leading up to the gun deck
Photo by Nick Catford

The first floor was the living quarters and is lit by three large windows. All original partition walls were removed during later alterations but there is evidence of a fire place and an original wooden cupboard remains. A trap door in the floor leads to the ground floor level which was accessed by a ladder. This is now partially flooded and not accessible. The roof is accessed via a granite staircase in the west side of the tower running between the brick inner walls and the granite outer walls. The original gun positions (one 56 pound cannon and two 32 pound cannon) would have been on the roof but later alterations have removed any original features.

The first remodelling of the tower took place between 1910 and 1912 when two 4.7" QF (Quick Fire) guns were moved to the tower from Grain Wing Battery to fire on high speed torpedo boats attacking ships moored at Sheerness or Chatham. Direction finding equipment and a crew room were added on the roof while the first floor became barracks and a magazine. The tower also formed an anchor point for the Medway Boom running across to Sheerness. A heavy chain still wrapped round the tower is the remains of the boom. Wooden posts sticking out of the tower around the chain on the east and west side are the remains of staging used in connection with rigging the boom.

Photo:The Medway boom chain and wooden staging supports
Photo by Nick Catford

On the first floor new brick partition walls divided the tower into three rooms, shell store, cartridge store and a barrack room. The barrack room was also used as part of the ammunition supply system with a hatch in the ceiling to the upper shelter. While the hatch was being used the barrack room acted as a shifting lobby.

To provide room for the 2 new 4.7" QF emplacements the tower's parapets were removed and a 2 level crew accommodation block was built consisting of two blocks of rooms comprising an ablutions block, shelter, stores and a kitchen. The ablutions block is a single level brick building incorporating the top of the stair passage. The north west room of the block was an Officers' Shelter and adjacent to it the Men's Shelter. The room on the south side of the Men' Shelter was an Artillery Store housing equipment for the operation, cleaning and maintenance of the guns. The room adjacent to the Artillery Store was the Kitchen which still retains a chimney.

Photo:The causeway carries on past the tower for a short distance. Note the light emplacement to the right of the tower
Photo by Nick Catford

Further information and pictures about this site continues here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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