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The defensible barracks at South Hook Fort

A Grade II* Listed Building in Herbrandston, Pembrokeshire

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Latitude: 51.7082 / 51°42'29"N

Longitude: -5.0837 / 5°5'1"W

OS Eastings: 187044

OS Northings: 205557

OS Grid: SM870055

Mapcode National: GBR G4.YJZ3

Mapcode Global: VH1RX.TBT9

Entry Name: The defensible barracks at South Hook Fort

Listing Date: 4 March 2004

Last Amended: 4 March 2004

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 82593

Building Class: Defence

Location: In a prominent position some 200m N of the cliffs at South Hook Point.

County: Pembrokeshire

Town: Milford Haven

Community: Herbrandston

Community: Herbrandston

Locality: South Hook Point

Built-Up Area: Works, nr Milford Haven

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire

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One of the chain of forts around Milford Haven, this one part of the second phase of defences planned 1859 to defend the inner part of the Haven, and including the forts at Popton (1859-64), Hubberston (1860-3) and the remodelling of Stack Rock island fort. Fort Scoveston (1861-4) was the only one built of the chain of land forts intended to defend the Haven from attack from the N. South Hook Fort was in two widely separated parts, a battery overlooking the Haven for 20 guns and a D-plan defensible barracks on high ground to the N. The battery was built 1859-61 but the barracks, dated 1863, were not completed until 1865.
The barrack block, similar to but smaller than the one at Hubberston, was for 180 officers and men quartered in a broad curved block, with hospital and other facilities in the straight block that connects the ends of the curve. There was a dry moat with drawbridge outside the entry and musketry galleries in the face of the embankment opposite.
The battery originally intended for 20 smooth-bore 68 and 32 lb guns was armed in 1867-71 with 20 nine-inch and seven-inch rifled muzzle loading guns. It comprised two batteries linked by a covered way, the W battery altered in the 1890s to take a 9.2 inch breech-loading gun and three twelve-pounder guns, the E battery abandoned. The W battery was disarmed in the 1930s. The surviving W battery is largely of concrete, with brick-vaulted chambers below, accessed from brick-lined basement. The E battery is overgrown.
The whole site was sold in 1936 and after 1960 incorporated in the Esso refinery site, becoming derelict.


Defensible barracks, grey rock-faced limestone with flat parapet roofs. Two storeys with bull-nosed moulding around at base of parapet, which has widely separated embrasures to barrack block which is parabolic curved in plan with entrance slightly W of N apex, and with flaring protective walls running out each side to link to the defensive ditches. The ends of the parabolic curve project as bastions to cover the long rear of the cross range, which has no embrasures to parapet. Exterior of curve has small square windows with rock faced stone voussoirs and stone sills, irregularly dispersed, many on the E side of the entrance enlarged upward to rectangular shape. W side from left has 4 windows above and 3 below then further two above before main entry. The entrance gateway has heavy timber double doors in cambered-headed grey ashlar-framed recessed opening inscribed 'South Hook Fort'. Plaque above 'VR 1863', slots for drawbridge chains each side of doorway and one window above plaque. Wall flares out immediately right of the entry, with rock faced coping run as string course into main wall over two gun loops, and narrow triangle between wall and fort is cut off by a short single-storey building with 5 gun loops. To left of entry some 5 bays of enlarged windows each floor before corresponding wall flares out, also with similar one-storey building between wall and the fort. Main fort wall has 3 square windows above and then 4 more square windows over 4 lengthened windows and 2 doors with stone voussoirs. S front has bastions projecting each side with 3 long loops to ground floor and 2 square windows above in each bastion, and canted inner walls with 3 square gun ports stepped to follow line of stairs within. Long main wall is almost without openings, one square window to first floor centre and cambered-headed door to ground floor left.
Opposite main entry a section of the embankment is stone faced in a zigzag of 6 faces, an inner projection with square gun openings at ground floor on each face, then longer range at right angles each side with rows of square gunnery holes on two levels, then outer blank returns.
Built into protective bank opposite SE bastion are single-storey vaulted chambers with stone front wall, door between two windows to left, altered section with flat-roofed forebuilding, then window and wide door.
COURTYARD Entrance passage with granite cobbles, recesses for drawbridge mechanism and entrance to guard room on right. Courtyard is essentially a parabolic curved 15-bay arcade of grey-limestone ashlar piers carrying ashlar segmental arches of differing widths fronting fireproof vaults, the arches infilled with two-storey elevations in rendered red brick. This faces across a grassed court to a wholly stone 2-storey crossrange.
Curving range has rock-faced coping and iron railings between 9 short stone chimney stacks set over the piers of many bays. The arcading comprises (from each end) first an arch obscured by the stairs (see below), then two broad arches each with three small-paned timber cross-windows to ground floor, and similar window each side of door with window over on upper floor, the heads following line of arch. Windows divided by rendered piers. The next two bays in have similar windows but are narrower (window and door below/ two windows above), and all these first four arches have a high iron access balcony with plain iron rails and stone-flag floor on cast-iron hollow drainage columns. The apex of curve has seven narrower bays, six with two 12-pane sashes with stone sills each floor (first on left has ground floor segmental ashlar arch to entrance tunnel) but centre bay is narrower still with one sash over arched entry to passage to stair giving access to upper floors. Flat concrete roof with railing to court and defensible parapet with embrasures to exterior.
Crossrange is not central, closer to right end than left. The ends of the curved range are linked to the back of the crossrange by a wall with arch on each floor giving access to a cantilevered granite stair up to the balcony, the wall parapet ramped up to higher defensible parapet of back of crossrange. To left of crossrange wall has iron balcony on brackets for access between ranges and single-storey windowless block in front, with coped parapet, attached to left end of crossrange. Crossrange has rock-faced stone front wall with coping and iron railings. Two storeys of 12-pane sash windows, mostly damaged, eleven bays, the centre 3 windows spaced closer over broad segmental arched entry flanked by pairs of gun loops. The four bays to left have ground floor five windows and door with fanlight. The four bays to right have another door with fanlight and another broad segmental-arched entry flanked by 3 gun loops each side. Granite steps to doorways. To right of crossrange, recess with access to stairs as on other side, but also with door to outside.


Interiors largely inaccessible. Barrack rooms on ground floor have plastered timber ceilings, upper rooms apparently vaulted. Rear windows have stone surrounds and wooden shutters with musket holes. Crossrange has two wooden staircases within the doors with fanlights, brick internal walls.

Reasons for Listing

Graded II* as a major piece of Victorian military architecture, part of the outstanding group of forts in the Haven. Part of Scheduled Ancient Monument PE 337.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II* Stack Rock Fort
    On Stack Rock island in Milford Haven some 2.7km S of Herbranston village.

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