The Coast Defence Committee reporting in 1873 regarded Shotley Fort as the key to the Harwich position. As long as this position was held, it would be impossible for an enemy to make use of the port. It could also not be shelled from the sea, unlike Landguard Fort. The committee recognised the vale of Landguard Fort for commanding the approaches to the port and also for providing flanking fire along the beach towards Felixstowe but also considered the position very vulnerable to attack from the sea and land. It was considered that Landguard should be maintained as an advance battery only; if Shotley was secure there would be no value in attacking or reducing Landguard Fort whereas if Landguard was the made very strong at the expense of Shotley it may tempt an enemy to attack it by landing a force to turn its flanks and shell it from the rear.
However, during the time the Committee was reporting, the decision had already been undertaken to make extensive improvements to Landguard Fort. Work started in 1871 but progress was slow. By the time its new guns were installed, they were already obsolete and it became obvious that the fort could no longer effectively command the approaches to Harwich. The decision was taken in 1887 to construct emplacements for new breach loading 6” and 10” guns.
The first of the new emplacements was the Left Flank Battery, work beginning on construction in 1888. It was armed with a 10” and two 6” gun on hydro-pneumatic disappearing carriages. These proved slow to operate with a slow rate of fire and the guns were withdrawn in 1909.
In order to provide more guns firing out to sea, work began on the Right Flank Battery in 1898. It was completed in 1900 and armed with one 10” gun and two 6” guns Mk VII. The system of range finding consisted of a long Horizontal Base Position Finder. In 1907 the 10” gun was reduced and four defensive electric light emplacements (D.E.L’s) constructed. In 1914 a new battery observation post was constructed. The battery was manned day and night during the war on an operational role but never went into action.
To prevent small craft speeding into the harbour entrance, work began at about the same time as the Right Hand Battery on Darell’s Battery. It was situated about 50 yards south-west of Landguard Fort and armed with two 4.7” Q.F. guns.
In 1915, Felixstowe Battery, complete with barracks, was constructed to the north of Landguard Fort on the site of the old Dunkerry Fort. It was armed with two 9.2” guns. In 1917 it became known as Brackenbury Battery.
Harwich was armed with two 6” guns Mk VII mounted in Beacon Hill Battery.
Above: Harwich Fixed Defences