History of St Anthony Head
Concrete buildings at St Anthony Head, on the tip of the Roseland Peninsula, represent a history of military fortifications, including a gun battery, ammunition stores and gunner's lookout. The area has been strategically used for many years, as far back as the French invasion when the first artillery was built in 1796. It’s played an important role in defending Falmouth and the deep waters of the estuary from seaborne attack.
The first artillery
The first artillery was built in 1796 in response to the French invasion and was a battery of 24-pounder cannons. In 1885 these were replaced by 64-pounder muzzle loaders.
St Anthony Head gun pit
1904 saw a completely new coastal fort built, with two huge 6-inch VII breech loading guns, each with 23ft long barrels.
The gun pedestals were mounted in 7ft deep pits, and below them was the magazine, entered by a central door. The magazine layout was designed to reduce the risk of accidental explosion.
The shells and cartridges were stored apart from each other and lifted to the gun pits using separate hand-cranked hoists, only coming together when they were loaded into the guns.
St Anthony Head battery hoist
The battery remained fully operational, and the magazine filled with ammunition, until 1956 when the guns were dismounted, cut up and taken away for scrap. The headland came into the care of the National Trust in 1959 and the gun pits were filled with rubble.
The eastern pit
The eastern pit has now been excavated to expose the original walkways, stores and ammunition hoists. There are four of these hoists in total, one cartridge hoist and one shell hoist per gun.
Battery tours run on selected days each month throughout the summer.
Explore St Anthony Head at the tip of the Roseland peninsula, South Cornwall. Learn how its historic military past played an important strategic role defending Falmouth and surrounding waters. Discover wildlife and views along the rugged coastline.