Hougham Battery is one of a number of coastal batteries established during WW2 along the Kent Coast. It was built in 1941 and manned by men of 520 Coastal Regiment Royal Artillery although by 1942 most of the younger men had been transferred to field regiments and most of those left manning the guns were elderly, including many veterans of the previous war. The battery was located on the north side of the old Folkstone - Dover Road and it was equipped with three 8” Mk. VIII naval guns.
The battery was largely covered over with spoil during the abortive construction of the Channel Tunnel in the 1970’s and very little is visible today apart from the top section of an underground magazine.
The combined fortress and battery plotting room was located to the south of the gun emplacements and this has survived in a field on the south side of the A20, 20 yards south of a farm access track that runs parallel with the road at this point. Other buildings survive on the cliff top including the Fire Command Post, Fortress Observation Post and Battery Observation Post. The overall coastal command for Dover was from an operations room in one of the casemates below Dover Castle, alongside the anti aircraft operations room. This worked in conjunction with the Command Fire Post which was co-located with the Port War Signals Station on the cliff top above the casemates. The coastal batteries at Dover were manned by three regiments of at least 3 batteries.
520 Coastal Regiment Royal Artillery manned the guns to the west of Dover (Capel, Lydden Spout, Hougham and Citadel batteries), 540 Regiment manned the guns to the east ( Fan Bay, Wanstone Farm and South Foreland Batteries) and 519 manned the rest.
The batteries to the east and west of Dover were each designated as a fortress and each fortress had an underground plotting room from where the guns could be controlled.
Each battery within that fortress had a similar sized underground plotting room that could just control the guns for that battery. At South Foreland the fortress and battery plotting rooms were at different locations, 400 yards apart but at Hougham the two plotting rooms were co-located within the same bunker.
The main entrance into the plotting room has been backfilled but it is still possible to gain access through the emergency escape shaft. At the surface this consists of heavy hinged steel hatch (it takes two to lift it) over the 5’ wide 25’ deep escape shaft. The original ladder is still in place. At the bottom of the shaft is a 22 foot long passage and at the far end of it a low rusty steel door into the bunker. The passage enters the bunker three feet up a wall in the fortress plotting room and there is a further short ladder fixed to the wall for access. The room has been stripped of any original fittings as have most of the rooms in the bunker.
Having entered the bunker into the fortress plotting room the battery plotting room is to the right through a door way in the three foot thick concrete wall. All but one of the steel doors in the bunker has been removed.
The plotting room has three two foot high concrete pillars at one end of the room, these were the supports for the ‘Converter - Co-ordinate’ Some wood panels remain in place on the back wall. Those to the right were the mountings for the ‘Transformers for the Magslip Transmission System’ and those to the left were for the ‘Terminating boxes for the underground Magslip Transmission System’ (top) and the ‘Magslip Transmission Switch Panel’ (bottom).
Diagonally opposite the entrance hatch there is a small room with a metal cabinet mounted above the door, this appears to contain two large metal rectifiers but its purpose is unknown although it was probably part of the ventilation system. The room was probably a switchboard room. Adjacent to this room is a short corridor which turn right through two rooms which have lines of coat hooks along one wall. At the end of the second room there is a left turn into the main entrance corridor which is much higher then the rest of the bunker, perhaps 10 feet. There is a single room to the right and two rooms to the left, one accessed through the other; one of these would have been the ventilation plant rooms. The first room has an original wooden shelf fixed to one wall. Beyond the door into these rooms is a low opening into a drainage tunnel that runs around three sides of the bunker to a dead end. Numerous pipes can be seen in the wall. Beyond the entrance to this narrow tunnel there is one final small room on the left which still retains its original steel door, this was the guard room. Beyond this room the passage has been backfilled from the surface.
Apart from the battery plotting room most of the internal walls are about 10” thick with holes high in the wall between rooms that would have carried the ventilation trunking. There is a channel cut in the floor in some parts of the bunker. Some electrical fittings still remain in place including metal lampshades and light switches.
Apart from some soil at the bottom of the shaft the bunker is clean and dry and one of the rooms has straw bales on the floor indicating that it had been used by far animals before the entrance was backfilled. Much of the original paint is still in place on the internal walls.
According to the farmer the WC block that was located a short distance to the east of the plotting room has been demolished as have the two accommodation Nissen huts close by. There is however a small rectangular building concrete building 75 yards east of the plotting room.
It’s unclear what the building was used for as it doesn’t appear on existing plans of the site but judging by its appearance it may have been the power house that was required to run the equipment in plotting room. It is recorded that the battery had three power houses, two 50 kW power houses were located to the north of the gun emplacements; these would have supplied power for the guns.
The third power house (10kW) was for fire control and date transmission, its precise location is not recorded.
- Bob Jenner
- Keith Slade
- John Vaughan
- After the Battle
- The Second World War 1939 - 1945 Army Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
- Vol II Technical - Published by The War Office 1951
- The Guns at Dover 1939 - 1956 by S.G. Hale