Lonehort Battery is the largest military structure on Bere Island and is one of seven gun batteries constructed by the British Admiralty to protect their fleet while at anchor in Berehaven Harbour.
The battery is located at the far eastern end of the island, and has a maximum length of 160 metres, its width varies from 64 metres to 92 metres. It overlooks Berehaven Harbour and the Caha Mountains to the north and to the south, the wide expanse of the entrance to Bantry Bay.
In March 1898 the British Government raised a compulsory purchase order for part of Bere Island, and the War Office took possession of much of the island’s eastern end. The area was marked by a red line drawn on a map, and the area became known locally as ‘inside the red line.’ Some tenants in this area were allowed to remain on their land, as ‘tenants at will of the War Department.’
The construction of Lonehort Battery began not long after the compulsory purchase order was raised. The British Army’s Royal Engineers and locals worked on excavating the moat, and constructing the various structure inside the battery. The basic structures of the battery moat were complete by 1899.
Lonehort Battery still contains two large six inch (the diameter of the gun barrel) coastal artillery guns, and has a network of underground cartridge stores and gunpowder stores located beneath the gun emplacements. Surrounding the main parade ground are a number of buildings which include a guard house, engine room, forge and associated workshops. At one stage Lonehort Battery housed a large 9.2 gun, although this was removed not long after the battery was opened, the gun emplacement on which it was installed can still be seen. The guns were transported by sea and landed in Rerrin Village, before being transported by horse and cart to Lonehort.
Lonehort Battery was designed to be completely self-contained if it came under attack. A bridge across the moat was on a wheeled mechanism which could be drawn into the fort. The battery contained a forge, a well, a kitchen block and barrack accommodation. Generators powered the battery and nearby Ardaragh Battery and searchlights located around the shoreline.
A wooden Loader Teacher gun is still in place at Lonehort, and is believed to be one of very few still in existence. The Loader Teacher was constructed as a training mechanism for gun crews to practice their loading techniques.
An overview of Lonehort Battery, it’s interior layout and firing range of all Bere Island gun batteries can be seen in these British War Department maps.
Lonehort Battery today
Lonehort Battery is one of the few remaining pieces of British World War One architecture in existence. In the UK many similar gun batteries were upgraded and adapted for use during World War Two. The battery is now owned by the Department of Defence who have licensed it to Bere Island Projects Group to restore as a visitor attraction.
Lonhort Battery is open during the summer months for guided tours.