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South West Brixham Battery Heritage Centre

One of the best surviving of the emergency batteries built around the coast in anticipation of a German invasion in 1940.

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Battery Head is the wooded headland to the north of Brixham.

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The headland was first used as a battery in 1586 in preparation of a prospective Spanish Invasion. It was again used in1688 when William of Orange landed in Brixham, to protect his fleet and cover the road from Paignton. It was also used during the American War of Independence when Brixham was an important victualling station for the Royal Navy, and later during the Napoleonic Wars when gun emplacements were added. Little is left of these defences apart from some boundary walls, which were part of the 1860s rebuilding programme.

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In 1940, 116 emergency batteries were built around the coast of Britain. Only seven remain and Brixham is the most complete. The site was manned by around 100 soldiers from the Royal Artillery and later by the Home Guard once threat of invasion had receded. Many of the original buildings can still be seen around the headland. The headland would have been bare of trees in 1940 and many of the buildings are now hidden among the trees. A model in the museum shows their position and this picture is taken from their website. The guide book available from the museum has a map and details of the buildings. On special open days there are tours of the headland visiting many of the sites.

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The Artillery Training School building is now the museum building. Soldiers were billeted in a holiday camp across the road in small beach chalets sleeping two soldiers.

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There are two buildings. The smaller building is the RAF telecommunications hut. The larger building is the general museum.

The gun outside the museum is from 1890 and is described as a black powder gun that was mainly used in India.

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Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Brixham Battery Heritage Centre cont...

The Telecommunications Hut


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This is the smaller building and the main exhibit is the e WAAF telecommunication officer who would have received and plotted information about aircraft movements.

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There are RAF uniforms that have been donated to the museum

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There are other smaller artefacts like the air raid warning siren.

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There are also two German incendiary bombs, which wrecked havoc during bombing raids in 1941 and 1942.

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Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Brixham Battery Heritage Centre cont...

The Main Museum


This is wonderful hotch potch of exhibits covering everything from uniforms to equipment and guns. There is information about forces in Devon, especially in preparation for the D-Day landings when local beaches were used as practice areas.

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There is an example of a mine detector designed in 1941 to be used in the Western Desert and increase the speed British Troops could move through mined areas.

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The American portable pedal driven battery charger was used to power mobile phones and could be folded up to be carried by paratroopers when jumping out of a plane. The British version didn’t have a seat!

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There is a folding bicycle. Bicycles were still important as transport and this could be folded up to carry on foot or for jumping out of aeroplanes.

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There is information about the Home Guard and their uniform.

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There are exhibits and information about life on the home fron, including a Morrison or table shelter. This was a steel cage that could sleep up to four people and could be used in the home. They were free to anyone earning less than £350 per annum or could be bought for £7. They were delivered in pieces to be assembled by the home owner.

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Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Brixham Battery Heritage Centre cont...

Outside exhibits


There are examples of large military guns.

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This smaller gun may have been used on HMS Belfast

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The Consol Shelter next to the German Oerlikon Cannon, were used by key workers and particularly fire watchers. They could be moved and bolted to the ground where needed.

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There are examples of bicycles. Bicycles were widely used in WW1 for transport. Shortages of raw materials and fuel in WW2 meant the bicycle was still used by many infantry man for swift transport. As well as a folding bycle and standard British military bicycle, there is a German Panzerfaust bicycle. These had a frame on the front designed to carry a pair of Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons. This had a range of 60m and could penetrate up to 12cm of armour.

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There is an Anderson Shelter. These were quickly assembled from panels of corrugated iron and could sleep up to six people. They were often covered with soil to give extra protection and also to give extra ground to grow vegatables. They were provided free to families with an income of less than £250. Otherwise they could be bought for £7.

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Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Brixham Battery Heritage Centre cont...

WW2 buildings around Battery Head


Many other building associated with the battery can still be seen around Battery Head, although some are now well hidden by trees.

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The Battery Observation Post is the first structure to be seen when arriving at Battery Head Gardens from the road. As well as being a observation post, it was also the command and control centre. It was manned by five people. The upper floor contained a telephone exchange and the commanders office. The lower floor had the plotting table, maps and a rangefinder telescope.
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The range finder telescope was stored in the remains of a brick built store next to the post.

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Adjacent to the Observation post was the guard house, now a covered seating shelter.
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Below this in the grass is the remains of a gun emplacement.

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Nearby are the two large gun floors

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One has a shelter attached used by the 14 man gun crew on duty.

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These were connected by tunnels.

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There were two searchlight positions. These were located on the lower slopes and the lights, operated from the observation post, had a range of 7 miles. It is a pity about the graffiti.

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The lights were powered by a generator.

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My two Grandsons had visited the museum and loved it. I was given strict instructions that I MUST visit. It is a fascinating place and the volunteers are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and love to talk about the museum and the rest of the site.

They were right, it was a fascinating visit. The museum is free, so please leave a donation!

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