Town Battery

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Being on the coast and close to Europe, Great Yarmouth required defences.


The town wall was constructed and was completed at the end of the 14th century. By then it was obsolete, because of the advent of cannons. The wall was not thick enough to mount artillery upon it, so several gun platforms, called mounts, were constructed. The first mount was built in 1569 on St. George's Plain, to the east of the later built St. George's Church.


Great Yarmouth built a new fort at the haven entrance in 1653 during the First Dutch War. The fort had to be repaired at least twice. The inside area, excluding the two bastions, was only 76 feet square. The south bastion of the fort was undermined by the sea and collapsed in 1822 and the remainder was demolished in 1834.


As by now the town wall was inadequate as a defence, three batteries; the North Star, the South Star (so called as they were star shaped) and the Town were built in 1795. An additional battery was later sited in Gorleston. The Gorleston battery was demolished around 1816, and its site is under the junction of Upper Cliff Road and Cliff Hill.


The batteries were built during the American Wars of Independence against the French, the Dutch and the American enemies. They were well-built solid earthwork structures surrounded by a wide ditch revetted with wood. There were wooden blockhouses. Being near the beach the works were troubled with windblown sand. After building a brick platform a ditch was dug around it with the sand being built up around the platform with turf covering it to keep it in place.


The North Star Battery, a fortified gun emplacement, was built in 1795. It later fell into disuse, but was reconstructed in 1811, and eventually equipped with 32-pounder guns. The battery was then subject to periods of disuse followed by sporadic renovation and re-fortification until it was demolished in 1922, the resulting rubble being used in the building of Beatty Road. Barnard Road was built across its north edge


The South Star Battery was built in 1795 and was finally demolished in 1924. The site is now occupied by the south end of Harbord Crescent. It was repaired at least twice. In 1859, the battery had seven guns (five 68-pounders and two 24- pounders) with the larger cannons weighing 95 cwt. moving on pivots. It was still in use in 1914.


The Town Battery was built in 1781 in a hexagonal shape and was demolished to make way for the extension of Marine Parade northwards in 1858. In the same year, the materials belonging to the town battery were sold for £84. 12s. 0d. In 1858, the Great Yarmouth Borough Council, after negotiations with the Board of Ordnance, exchanged the site of the Town Battery for a site further east. An extraordinary proposal, as in this year the Britannia Pier was opened, which was in front of the battery. In the event the new battery was not built and the old battery was demolished in 1859, and now lies underneath the houses on Marine Parade, between Paget Road and Euston Road.

It is unlikely that any of the guns were fired in anger, but they were used for gunnery practice, being fired at targets in Yarmouth Roads by the volunteers, the militia and their ilk. They were also used to give salutes. 


Laing’s Map of Great Yarmouth 1855