At the eastern end of Gunners Park; the site of the old Shoebury ranges, lie the area’s two oldest ancient and modern military installations. These are the 1852 Powder Magazines and the Viking rampart from AD 894 (some kind of defensive earthen wall) which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. This ancient earthwork was created possibly when the Vikings attacked Benfleet in AD 893 at the Battle of Beamfleot, yet had to fall back sea-wards and created this to defend their encampment. It seems to have been appended and reinforced in the Victorian area to form a blast wall to protect nearby accommodation from the possibility of explosion of the magazines – the first brick built buildings on the subsequent old ranges site. One of the two powder magazines appears to have had later attempts to restore the building, including re-roofing. We visited them in 2011 and 2018; the latter being when the recent photographs were taken.
These buildings are firmly sealed and incorporated into the park today. Below is our account of first discovering the buildings when they were still fenced off and ruined in 2011, accompanied by pictures:
“We proceeded to a pair of Victorian Gunpowder mills, tucked behind a building-type temporary metal fence. There was a large possibly Victorian outdoor building amongst a building material storage site, which was too fenced off (set to become a heritage centre). This is probably why the gunpowder stores fell within the fence too, yet were still a distance off. It was all probably part of renovation for the garrison. One was sealed, yet another’s door was cracked open. It consisted of a doorway room with a cupboard, an the main room. In slight lighting from a mobile phone, it became a cosy place. It was immaculate in quality, and featured perspex over some sort of gunpowder funnel coming out of the wall. Hanging from hooks appeared to be rags of animal skins still there! Along with the other building having lead covering part of its roof, we could tell that some sort of failed renovation project had been carried out on these buildings. The paint inside was immaculate, and all the little pegs existed on the walls for various items.”
Shoebury’s Other Military Heritage