Crownhill Fort is a preserved Victorian fort on the outskirts of Plymouth. It covers a total of 16 acres. There are numerous buildings which contain, Guard rooms, store rooms, sergeants and soldiers quarters, detention rooms, cookhouse, latrine block, cafe and various galleries for firing guns and canons.
Our visit took place during the summer season when they were had visiting re-enactment groups who can fire the guns, canons etc. Some of the buildings have been laid out in Victorian time layouts and are used as gallery halls explaining the history of the place and people who served there.
Crownhill Fort was designed by Capt E F Du Cane for the purpose of defending the Royal Dockyard at Devonport. Its design was at the time, at the forefront of fortress design in both the theory and materials used. It has seven sides all with massive ramparts and surrounded by a deep dry ditch and each flank can be defended by gunfire from projecting caponiers.
The plans were approved in 1863 and building began. In 1866 the building contractor, George Baker, went bankrupt after a strike by his building workers and the work was finished by the Royal Engineers who were the first garrison there. It was completed in 1872 at a cost of £76,409. 1880 saw it being armed with peacetime armaments. Its guns however were never put to the test as advances in artillery overtook it and the fortress became obsolete. It was however retained by the army for over a century and had not suffered any irreversible alterations. It is now in the hands of The Landmark Trust, a preservation charity who rescues and preserves historic buildings and secures their future by letting them out for holidays. You can stay at the Officers Quarters on the south side of the parade ground in an apartment for up to 8 people.
The Moncrieff Counterweight Disappearing Gun
Crownhill has two concrete pits which were designed to mount the Moncrieff Guns. One of which contains the only example in the world of a counterweight disappearing gun. The gun was designed to stay out of sight below the parapet until it was loaded and ready for firing. This gun works by releasing a brake and then a counterweight elevates the gun to it's firing position. The recoil created by the firing would be sufficient to bring the gun back down to it's loading position. The gun and carriage at the Fort today are replicas, and when demonstrated is done so manually.
pictures were taken on early digital cameras prior to DSLR's,
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