Malta / Shoeburyness
Please send in any photo's or Item's of interest regarding
the Regiment in Malta or Shoeburyness.
Fort Tigne is the smallest fort on the island. It was built in 1792 on a design of Chevalier Tigne,
after whom it was named. It is situated at the entrance of Marsamxett Harbour at Point Dragut.
Fort Tigne was the last fortification built by the Knights on Malta, construction was started in 1792
and was completed in 2 years. This was a remarkably short construction period given the time taken
on some of the other fortifications on the island, which had taken over 100years and still not been
completed. The completion of the fort was greatly aided by the fact that it is of small size and the
funds for it's construction had been donated and were therefore not dependent on the common
treasury. The Bailiff Tigne gave 1,000 scudi towards the project but a much larger sum
of 6,000 was provided by Grand Master Rohan.
The fort was one of the few that put up some resistance to the French in 1798.
The site appears to have been occupied by the British who later built Tigne barracks on much
the same site. I have not found out when the fort was demolished as now only the circular tower
remains, but the photograph below shows how it appeared at some point in the 19th century.
The fort consisted of 4 wings at right angles to each other and a round tower
in the gap between the wings that projected towards Valletta.
The diagram below shows a sketch view of the layout of the fort.
The whole structure was surrounded by a ditch and was reportedly well mined
throughout. The ditch appears to have been defended by the structures on the outside
of the ditch and by loopholes from the main structure it's self.
In the early 1950's 36 HAA Regiment were stationed at Tigne Barracks, 73 HAA Regiment
were also stationed on the Island at St George's Barracks. When the Suez Crisis was on in 1956,
part of 37 HAA Regiment moved out to Malta, they were stationed at St Patricks Barracks.
Today much development has taken part at Tigne Barracks. Most of the Barracks have now
been demolished, and the original blocks having been converted into flats. There is one
old married quarters block left and the old cookhouse.
My thanks to the late John Coady for the update on Tigne Barracks.
Please click the link for pictures of the Regiment in Malta.
My thanks to Mrs Colleen Briggs, the daughter of Major H.R.L. (Dick) Moore, 36 HAA Regiment,
Ralph Davies, ex 60 Bty and John Coady, ex 37 HAA Regiment for donating photos in this gallery.
Officers Shoulder Badge
Shoulder Flash worn by members of
36 H.A.A. Regiment
Badge of The Malta Artillery
3.7 in Anti-Tank role, Bahar ic Chaik 1955
My thanks to Bob Rogers for the photo.
Regimental Police, 36 HAA Malta
I have been contacted by Bob Keddie, ex 36 HAA Regiment Malta 1953-57.
Bob played Hockey and also rowed for the Regiment. He was a member of the
Regimental crew who won the Malta Garrison Boat Race in 1956 (the first time a British
crew had won the race since the 1920's). Bob would like to make contact with any of his
old crew who may still be around.
The crew were: L/Bdr Foster, Bdr Butler, L/Bdr Pearson, L/Bdr Oxley, Sgt Tressler
and Lt Elstone (Cox).
If you can help please E-Mail me.
Clock Tower, Horseshoe Barracks
History of the Garrison
A signal station was erected in 1797-8 at the start of the Napoleonic Wars to communicate
with Sheerness in the event of a French invasion. It was replaced by a coastguard station
and six cottages in 1825 which were later absorbed in the Garrison’s Officers’ Mess.
Part remains in the Mess and is the only pre-Garrison structure surviving.
During the 1840s the artillery ranges at Plumstead Marshes, near Woolwich, became
increasingly difficult to use for testing and practice firing of weaponry owing to greater
distances needed and their proximity to the heavily used shipping route along the Thames.
The Board of Ordnance whichwas responsible for testing and procuring weapons, decided
Shoeburyness was the best option for a new testing and practice Station.
It offered an isolated site, extensive land and foreshore for firing, easy access by river from
Woolwich and a coastal location for the transport of heavy artillery. Land began to be purchased
in stages from 1849 and for the next five years Shoeburyness and its foreshore were used as
a temporary Station during summer months. The former coastguard station became officers’ quarters
with an extension built in 1852 for the Mess and servant’s quarters; temporary wooden buildings
were erected for personnel, stores, etc., to the north; and the Station’s first brick building, one of
the powder magazines, was erected in 1851.
The first civilian development stimulated by the new Station was the Shoebury Tavern, built in
1852 at the Station’s gates. This was rebuilt in 1899 and is now the Shoebury Hotel. Housing
development was planned on nearby land to the west but the Board purchased the land to
safeguard its use of the site. But early development took place along Rampart Terrace
(all now demolished) and the east side of the High Street.
The consequences of the Crimean War in 1854 were fundamental for the Station’s subsequent
development. The War ended 40 years of relative stagnation in weaponry development and
led to Shoebury becoming a permanent Station with investment in new buildings and
testing facilities. Buildings erected include:
The Commandant’s House (1854)
Beach House for the second officer (c1856)
The Hospital (1856) which was possibly the most advanced barrack hospital at that time and believed to have been visited by Florence Nightingale before the Royal Sanitary Commission on Health in the Army in 1857– it included separate fever, casualty and general wards and an isolation ward and an internal kitchen Sergeants’ quarters attached to the Hospital (1856)
The second Powder Magazine (c1856)
Other works included the construction of Chapel Road (c1857), which extended to Ness Road,
to make road access to the Station more usable, an unloading pier close to the first battery,
to assist seaborne transport, and additional artillery batteries.
The War and its aftermath led to a rapid expansion in the amount and type of testing and
practice firing carried out for both the army and navy. With the adoption of rifled guns and the
commissioning of armoured ships, a ‘battle’ developed to find more powerful guns on the one hand and
more effective armour and coastal defences on the other. This ‘battle’ was ‘largely fought
on the Marshes at Shoeburyness, and from 1890 in the New Ranges.’
The Crimean War also highlighted the need for a dedicated School of Gunnery for the Royal Artillery
to standardise training and procedures for the new weaponry. The first school had been
established in 1778 at the Royal Military Repository, Woolwich, but had a restricted curriculum.
On the recommendation of the Army C in C, the Duke of Cambridge, the new School of Gunnery
was established in 1859 at the Shoebury Station.
This additional use of the Station led to further land purchase, increasing the area from
45 to 200 acres, and building construction which included:
Gatekeepers Lodge (1859), Chapel Road (now 107 Ness Road)
Gunnery Drill Shed (1859) which also served as the Garrison Church before the Chapel was built and
a theatre until 1886 when a separate theatre was erected close to East Gate (now demolished).
Artillery Barracks with barrack blocks, sergeants’ mess, Garrison School, clock tower gateway with flanking guardroom, cells and offices (1859-1862).
It was built to a unique design and semi-circular layout which enclosed the parade ground.
Clerk of Works House, 135 Ness Road (1861)
Garrison Church (1866)
NCO quarters in Hospital Road (1858-9)
Married Officers’ quarters in The Terrace overlooking the cricket square (1866-1871)
Single Officers’ quarters at 1-7 in Warrior Square Road (1860 and c1870)
Long Course Officers’ quarters, Chapel Road (1871)
Carriage & Wagon Shed, Warrior Square Road (c1860)
Royal Engineers’ offices and quarters, Warrior Square Road (1874)
By the early 1870s, the Station had been substantially completed.
From 1865 the Station was used also by the National Artillery Association as an annual competition
range with well over 1000 military competitors. Tented accommodation to the rear of the Barracks
was provided and the area became known as Campfield. This was the last land to be purchased, in 1886,
and enabled the construction of Campfield Road, at that time a military road within the Station and
not for public use, and the Sergeants’ Married Quarters (nicknamed the ‘Birdcage’, now Ash Court &
Beech Lodge, Rosewood Lane) north of the road. Additional terraces were built at the
rear in the early C20 (now ‘The Cottages’).
Offices, workshops, stores and quarters were built south of Magazine Road over the latter part
of the 19th century and into the 20th, and echoed much of the architecture elsewhere at the
Garrison, but had no overall plan for their layout. Artillery training and experimental use of guns,
rockets and explosives, and the testing of armour and defensive casements continued to grow
up to the end of the century. Experimental casements and an adjacent new pier were built in 1872-3.
The casements were adapted into the Light Quick Firing Battery twenty years later.
The Heavy Quick Firing Battery which still exists was also an adaptation of a previous structure
(the Old Battery). In general, however, many of the structures built for testing and practice were
not intended to be permanent and few now remain. But there is substantial archaeological
evidence of former structures, particularly close to the shore.
The Station played a central role in artillery development such as rifled barrels, breach loading,
Hale’s war rockets, Captain Boxer’s shrapnel, quick firing weapons including machine guns and
the replacement in the 1890s of gunpowder with cordite. It had close links with William Armstrong whose
company became one of the main armaments innovators and manufacturers and many of that company’s
weapons were tested at Shoebury.
There was an inherent danger in the work at the Station and an accidental explosion in 1885
killed seven. A new Married Soldiers Hospital (now a public house) was built on Campfield Road in
1898 from public subscription to commemorate those who had been killed.
The continuous improvements led once more to the need for greater distances for firing ranges
and purchase of the New Ranges, north of the present East Beach, extending eventually to
Foulness began in 1889. Experimentation and testing activities were increasingly carried out on the
New Ranges, whilst the Old Ranges continued with various forms of training. It also led to the extension
of the railway to Shoebury in 1884, the construction of Shoebury railway station and the construction of
lines into both the Old and New Ranges.
The Station had connections with many well known people of the day who either trained there or were
involved in testing weapons. These included:
the Duke of Cambridge
, the army C in C and a frequent visitor with foreign dignitaries
Louis Napoleon Prince Imperial of France, son of deposed Emperor and great grandson of Napoleon,
who was stationed there as an officer;
Godfrey Rampling, athlete and gold medal winner at the 1938 Berlin Olympics;
George Carpentier, world heavyweight boxing champion and
Bombardier Billy Wells who both
trained at the Shoebury Hotel in the early 1900s.
The Garrison’s development had a profound impact on Shoebury and transformed it from a small
scattered rural community with a population in 1851 of only 350, into a Garrison town. Development was
in two distinct areas in the High Street / Rampart Terrace / Hinguar Street area at the east gate and
in Cambridge Town at the west gate in Chapel Road / Ness Road.
Development around the High Street entrance followed construction of the Shoebury Tavern,
but on a fairly small scale until the arrival of the railway. Development of Cambridge Town started in 1883
and effectively created slum conditions for its residents without made-up roads, sewers or water supplies.
Married soldiers could only go on the list for married quarters at the Garrison when they were aged 26
or older and so often had to find rented accommodation in the area.
Shoebury Urban District Council was formed in 1895, in part to provide improved roads
and living conditions, and continued until absorbed within Southend in 1933. Campfield Road and
part of Chapel Road was passed to the Council as a public road in the 1920s and a new west gate
created at the west end of the present Chapel Road. 101 Campfield Road, built in 1934,
is believed to have been the new gatehouse.
The First World War saw increased activity at Shoebury including a new School of Anti-Aircraft
instruction and a War Dog School to train dogs for use in the war. The interwar period saw the
final separation of experimentation and testing from artillery training at Shoebury and re-emphasised
the different functions of the Old and New Ranges.
The period was one of relative decline until rearmament commenced in 1936. But from
then and through the War, the Garrison saw significant structural work on new defences including
air raid shelters, command posts, new batteries, searchlight emplacements, and so on. Surviving features
are identified in the Survey of World War II Defences in the Borough of Southend-on-Sea. Outside
the Appraisal area but visible from it are two related features – the Cold War Defence boom at East Beach,
which replaced the 1939-40 timber boom, and the wreck of the Mulberry Harbour, which had been
built for the D Day landings in France. Both are under consideration for scheduling as ancient monuments.
And on the east horizon are forts built at the entrance to the estuary.
The War brought a permanent artillery Regiment (22) to the Old Ranges. Of the many soldiers
who passed through for war-time training, well known characters included Frankie Howerd
who started his entertainments career in the Garrison’s theatre and spent time in the guardhouse!
Post-war, the Garrison continued to house residential artillery units until 1976. Accommodation
on site remained inadequate and many families had to be housed elsewhere. Despite proposals
for housing development on the Old Ranges, the only ones built were the five officer’s houses facing the east
side of the cricket pitch, and similar houses in Ness Road, in the early 1950s.
Following the departure of the last residential unit, the Garrison HQ was disbanded in 1976,
properties in the vicinity of the west gate and Campfield Road were sold, many non-residential
structures were demolished, Gunners Park was formed and the rest of the site eventually sold in 2000.
Shoebury Garrison Conservation Area
Part of Shoebury Garrison and the adjacent High Street were designated a Conservation
Area in 1981 because they have special architectural and historic interest and a unique character
which needs to be preserved and enhanced.
Shoebury Garrison Conservation Area consists of:
High Street, Shoebury (Shoeburyness Hotel, 3-35 odd, 2-28 even)
Rampart Street, Shoebury (site of 20-21)
Chapel Road, Shoebury Garrison (all properties including Horseshoe Barracks, Gatehouse & Clocktower,
Garrison Church of St Peter & St Paul, Gunnery Drill Shed, Long Course Officers Quarters)
Mess Road, Shoebury Garrison (Officers Mess, Commandants House)
The Terrace, Shoebury Garrison (all properties)
Warrior Square Road, Shoebury Garrison (1-5 consec.)
Shoebury's position at the mouth of the Thames estuary has given it strategic importance
since prehistoric times and as a result it has had a long association with military activity.
Archaeological evidence suggests that ramparts in the present Garrison protected an Iron Age
settlement. Originally, the ramparts were 40ft wide and 12ft high and possibly formed a semi-circle
which was open to the sea. Parts of these ramparts survive, and with the area of the settlement,
are now protected as a scheduled ancient monument within the Conservation Area.
The Romans also built a fortified settlement at the Ness, known as Essobira which was
attacked by the British in AD50 under Caractacus, son of the last British King, and later by
Boadicea’s rebels. It is thought to have survived in some form into the 4th century. In the 6th century
Saxon invaders re-established a settlement at Shoebury called Scoebyrig
(the town in the “shaw” or wood).
Shoebury later became a base for the Danes who sought to overrun the Saxon kingdom.
In 894AD, after defeat by King Alfred in the Battle of Benfleet, the Danish forces retreated to
Shoeburyness.The Danes may well have made use of the earlier Iron Age ramparts for protection.
The origins of the present Garrison go back to Napoleonic times when the country was again
threatened by invasion. Continually seeking improvements in weaponry, the Royal Artillery from
Woolwich started to use the Ness for experimental and practice firing.
After periodic use, the Royal Artillery established permanent experimental ranges at
Shoebury in 1849 on land purchased from Dale Knapping, Lord of the Manor. A School of
Gunnery was added ten years later. It was during this period that the Garrison was mainly
developed, including the hospital,gatehouse and clocktower in 1856, the gunnery drill shed in 1859,
and Horseshoe Barracks in the 1860s. The Garrison had a further link with Napoleonic times
when the Prince Imperial of France, great grandson of Napoleon, was stationed there as an officer.
He was later killed in the Zulu War.
Artillery training and experimental use of guns, rockets and explosives, continued to grow
and the New Ranges extending to Foulness were added to the Garrison in 1889. Despite the dangers,
the Garrison had relatively few accidental explosions. The worst, in 1885, killed seven soldiers
and brought a sense of tragedy to the whole district.
The Garrison’s development had a profound impact on Shoebury and transformed it
from a small scattered rural community with a population in 1851 of only 350, into a Garrison town.
Rapid population growth and housing development took place around the Garrison and many residents
weredependant on it for their livelihoods. The railway was extended to Shoebury in 1884 to serve the
Garrison and this stimulated further development in the High Street area.
The Garrison remained in military use until the 1980's. Following a long period of disuse,
it is to be converted to new uses and its historic buildings restored.
Shoebury Garrison's Special Interest
The Conservation Area has two distinct sections. It is centered on the Garrison’s barracks and
associated accommodation. It also includes part of the High Street which provides a suitable
Victorian setting for the entrance to the Garrison.
Inside the Officers Mess
Its history and archaeology give it national significance. It also has considerable architectural
interest with its unique horseshoe barrack design and a range of buildings typical of Victorian
military architecture. Many of the Garrison's buildings are listed buildings and have special
architectural or historic interest in their own right:
Shoebury Garrison Conservation Area Listed Buildings:
Blocks A-Q Horseshoe Barracks
Cookhouses r/o blocks CD, EF, LM
Garrison Church of St Peter & St Paul
Gate House & Clock Tower
Gunnery Drill Shed
Long Course Officers Quarters
Blocks E-M including hospital building
Warrior Square Road
Clerk of Works House
The character of the Barracks is very special. Its architecture and layout remain largely
as originally designed. Well spread out buildings, wide tree lined roads, open spaces and sea
views give a feeling of space. Many mature treeswithin the Garrison enhance the setting
of the buildings andpositively contribute to the Conservation Area’s character.
Most of the buildings date from the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Their materials and
common design elements give the area a unified appearance - yellow stock brick, slate roofs,
timbersliding sash window. But distinct variations in building design, their position, size and
decorative detailing, reflect the different status of the users. Compare Horseshoe Barracks,
for instance,which have the simplest designs and provided accommodation for private soldiers,
with the well-detailed married officers quarters in The Terrace.
The buildings in Horseshoe Barracks are aligned in a horseshoe shape around a large parade
ground. This is a unique example of the efforts during the nineteenth century to reform and improve
barrack design. It also provides an important element of the townscape.
Other buildings provide focal points for the Conservation Area. The most distinctive is the
Gatehouse. It was built in 1856 with an attached guard house and jail and is in an Italianate style.
Its central feature is the square clock tower, which has a clock to each face, chamfered corners
and molded cornices and parapet. An archway below provides the entrance to the parade
ground and barracks.
The Garrison Church of St Peter and St Paul was originally the chapel and school of the
British School of Gunnery. It was constructed in 1866 of ragstone and slate in a gothic revival style,
with a cruciform plan. Memorials in the church include one to the accidental explosion of 1885.
Other notable buildings include the Garrison's Hospital with its symmetrical frontage design,
the gunnery drill shed which is an early example of free-span north-light roofs and has decorative
red brick detailing, and the Officers Mess which overlooks the estuary and has a
splendid oak panelled dining room.
The High Street
The High Street fronting the Garrison entrance was developed during the second half of the
nineteenth century in response to the Garrison and the extension of the railway to Shoebury.
The broad High Street was developed piecemeal with no overall design control. Originally a mix
of houses and shops, it shows a variety of Victorian designs. Despite conversion of some of the shops
to housing, buildings retain much of their Victorian character. Features of particular importance are the
originaltimber sliding sash windows, slate roofs, parapet and cornice detailing and original shopfronts.
The terrace of houses on the west side of the High Street (nos. 9-25) are of varied designs but
their typical late Victorian detailing such as recessed porches, bays, timber sliding sash windows
and slate roofs give them visual unity.The Shoeburyness Hotel is at the entrance to the Garrison.
Built in an Arts and Crafts style it became a training base for boxers attached to the Garrison,
such as Bombadier Wells.
The Royal Artillery says farewell to Shoeburyness
Wednesday 4th March 1998
We must not forget the contribution made to Shoeburyness
by the men and women of the P&EE.
The New Ranges are still in operation, but now run by a civilian
based agency, but with much less activity as in the past.
Blast from the Past
This Picture was taken in 1909. It shows the Shoeburyness Artillery Team which beat
the Lancashire Fusiliers in the Army Cup Final. My thanks to Neville Barker for this photo.
His Grandfather Charles Barker was a member of the Team.
Please check out this excellent Book
by Major Tony Hill
Published by Baron Books of Buckingham
The Future of the Shoebury Garrison
This 96 hectare historic garrison was formally the British School of Gunnery and a
major training and experimental base for the army from the 1850's to the 1990's.
It occupies a strategic site on the northern tip of the Thames Estuary, includes a
scheduled ancient monument, 40 listed buildings and an SSSI.
The site was acquired from Defence Estates by Gladedale Homes in Spring 2000.
Allen Tod have prepared a masterplan delivering housing, employment, leisure, community uses,
hotel, school and a new 35 Hectare park. Supporting work includes a Design Report, a comprehensive
audit of the historic, cultural and landscape assets of the site, and impact assessments. The masterplan
resolves access, drainage, flood defence, archaeological and historic building issues to create a place
that is sustainable and does justice to this unique location
I was invited to walk around the Garrison on the 4th August 2001. I must say that I
was pleased to see how the development is progressing. All of the listed buildings
are being saved and refurbished. Many have already been sold, (very expensive).
The Barrack Blocks around the Horseshoe are being converted into two
bedroomed Apartments, the Sergeants Mess is being made into a house.
The old Hospital has been converted into two houses, and already occupied.
All of the Bungalows in Hospital Road have been sold.
There is much more to be undertaken in the redevelopment of the Garrison,
which will take several years.
Copyright: Keith Holderness 2001- 2021
All rights reserved