Fire Watchers Post

Unlike many of the buildings around Fort Halstead, this structure was not built for any unique testing or evaluation purpose, but for the protection of the site. Constructed in the early years of the Second World War, this firewatchers post stands on the highest point across the site; on top of a rampart within the Old Fort.

A small unassuming octagonal structure constructed from brick and concrete, the post was intentionally exposed to offer a great field of view over the site and surrounding countryside. During an air raid, the occupants would remain inside, using the eight observation loopholes to observe for the location of unexploded ordnance, flares and fires. The post has a frame for a door, but glass would not have been fitted to the loopholes, nor is there evidence of shutters.

The post is cut into the ramparts of the Old Fort and consists of a cast concrete lower ring, a concrete and brick blast wall covering the entrance and eight observation loopholes around the top of the post, capped with what appears to be a pre-cast concrete mantlet to the loopholes. The roof is a single slab of cast concrete.
It can be seen from this image that the post sits on a larger concrete foundation; the depth is undetermined. The rough aggregate making up the concrete of the lower half of the walls is consistent with wartime concrete.
Inside the post is an original wooden bench, supported on a stack of three bricks, each on a concrete foundation plinth on the floor. An observer would be required to stand on this bench to gain sufficient height to view through the loopholes, and while sitting on the bench would have been offered better protection against nearby explosions.

This post has been recorded in the Historic England database. The entry is as follows:

Pillbox sited on rampart of Fort Halstead ‘London Mobilisation Centre’. It is of composite brick/concrete construction – possibly octagonal. For two-thirds its height it appeared to be brick with a pre-set concrete ‘collar’ set on top containing the embrasures: there is a flat concrete roof. A similar style of construction has been seen in Woolwich Arsenal, though much smaller and square in plan.

Pastscape, the English Heritage monument database. Monument No. 1422524

There is also a second fire watchers post located on the south of the site and visible from the public path. This site has not been previously officially recorded and as such does not have a Historic England monument number.

The second post of a similar design is to the south of the site. Construction of the walls is almost entirely of red brick, and it lacks the concrete lower. There is also no earth revetment. The yellow phone is a modern addition.
The location of both fire watchers posts on the Fort Halstead Site. A public footpath runs to the east and south of the site enabling viewing of the second post from outside the wire.

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