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Flat Holm Island Military Fortifications

Flat Holm Island is one of the two Holm islands in the Bristol Channel, UK.

Steep Holm and Flat Holm islands lie in a rough line between Cardiff and Weston Super Mare. Flat Holm Island has been fortified many times over the years, most recently in world war 2. Most of the fortifications on the island though, date from Victorian times.

Like its neighbour Steep Holm, Flat Holm has several Searchlight Bunkers which were equiped with powerful searchlights to prevent sneak attacks by Nazi raiders on the important dock installations at Penarth, Cardiff, Newport and Bristol. Both the islands were equipped with coastal artillery which had been salvaged from obsolete ex-navy warships.

The ww2 equipment is long gone but the expense of moving the huge victorian muzzle loading guns defeated the scrap merchants again and, after a half hearted attempt to cut up one of the guns proved more expensive in oxygen and acetylene than the metal was worth, they were left in situ on the island.

 

 

Flat Holm pics

Click on an image to see a bigger picture...

Muzzle loader
Muzzle loader
Victorian Magazine
Victorian Magazine
Victorian Battery with ww2 generator building inside
Victorian Battery with ww2 generator building inside
Traverse protector
Traverse protector - An ingenious way of preventing the ww2 artillery from hitting the lighthouse!

The difference in build quality between the original Victorian fortifications and the World war two buildings becomes more and more evident as time goes on. The WW2 buildings were thrown up in a couple of weeks - Hitler's Kriegsmarine may have been sailing up the Bristol Channel so it was all hands to the pumps.

Cheap concrete and asbestos sheets were the order of the day to get the fort operational as soon as possible. They are showing their age, though - another 60 years and the WW2 buildings will have crumbled away completely, leaving only the massive stone blocks of their Victorian counterparts.

Victorian Cannon
Victorian Cannon

Muzzle loader
Muzzle loader
Victorian Barracks
Victorian Barracks
Victorian Barracks
Victorian Barracks used as hostel for volunteer conservationists
Barracks and lighthouse
Barracks and lighthouse
Victorian Naval Battery
Victorian Naval Battery
WW2 Generator shed
WW2 Generator shed - built inside a Victorian Gun Battery for protection
WW2 Searchlight bunke
Inside WW2 Searchlight bunker - foreground is generator base - note channel in floor for searchlight cable.
ww2 radar
Radar Plinth - The wheeled radar antennae would be winched up on to the plinth
WW2 Searchlight bunke
WW2 Generator shed

WW2 Searchlight post
WW2 Searchlight post

WW2 Searchlight post
WW2 Searchlight post from the sea

The world war two bunkers are scattered around the island with the searchlight posts being placed as close to sea level as possible. As there was no mains electricity on Flat holm, each bunker had its own diesel generating set to provide power for the searchlight.

More Flat holm Pictures

 

 

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