Hamble Point Anti-Aircraft Gun & Bofors Gun Platform
Hamble Common and Hamble Point have held an important defensive role for centuries. Historical records show Hamble as a significant maritime centre as far back as the 13th century. With that also came the need to defend the local area.
The Second World War was no different, with measures taken to defend the approach into Southampton. One defensive position was an anti-aircraft gun position.
Below you can see the concrete platform the Hamble AA gun would have sat on.
There were multiple sites of strategic interest that needed protecting, including Hamble Airfield, the Spitfire repair centre in Hamble, the Supermarine Spitfire factory in Woolston, Southampton docks, and Fawley oil refinery.
Situated at the mouth of the River Hamble, overlooking busy shipping lanes, the Hamble Point gun emplacement and 40/70 Bofors gun would have offered a clear view of any low-flying aircraft attempting to attack any of those sites.
The Hamble AA gun was set on a concrete base. The concrete had two platforms; one for the Bofors anti-aircraft gun, and the other for a “predictor”, which was range finding equipment.
The reason the two platforms were separated like this during WW2 was to reduce the effect of the vibrations from the AA gun firing on the range-finding technology.
I’ve seen an almost identical arrangement before in Dorset, albeit on elevated platforms. If you want to see those, check out my blog post on the Holton Heath gun towers.
The two concrete anti-aircraft platforms are 7 metres by 12 metres across and can be found on the shingle beach at the south eastern corner of the common.
Unfortunately, the Hamble anti-aircraft gun platform is now surrounded by a metal railing fence. This means you cannot access it – the photos I took here in October 2021 were taken by placing my camera through the railings.
The Council has taken action to fence off and secure the site in the interests of health and safety. The Council will be exploring various options for the best way forward for the AA Gun emplacement at Hamble Point. We will need to work with a number of agencies including Historic England to establish the best way forward.
The Bofors AA gun used to be set on the platform, and had been since the 1980s. However, the Hamble AA gun was moved in February 2021.
It’s due to the erosion taking place, and the toll the sea water and tides have taken on the concrete platform. You can see the degradation in my photos.
Unfortunately the coastline of Hamble Point has been designated by the Environment Agency as requiring no active intervention against coastal erosion. Thankfully though, Eastleigh Borough Council have said they are working with Historic England to preserve the historic scheduled monument.
The Hamble AA Gun
The AA gun wasn’t moved too far in order to protect it from falling into the sea. It’s about 100 yards from the concrete gun platform, now in the car park on a more solid footing.
Despite how it looks, it’s not a genuine WW2 Bofors gun. The original L60 anti-aircraft Bofors gun at Hamble was removed at the end of the war and replaced in the late 1980s with the L70 post-war version that you see above. It was donated by the Ministry of Defence.
Having sat out in all weathers since the 1980s, the gun has weathered over time, even being victim to a graffiti artist. Thankfully it has been lovingly restored and continues to be maintained by Hamble Conservation Volunteers and GE Aviation.
Chris Apletree was one of the team responsible for restoring it to the condition it’s in today.
“It was not just the Hamble volunteers who restored the gun, GE Aviation did a lot of work on it, I was tasked with identifying the correct WWII colour for the gun and sourcing it. I was also part of the team who rubbed it all down, removed sharp edges, fabricated new parts and repainted it.”
Watch a video
Here’s video of my son and I visiting the site as well as other Second World War aspects still remaining in Hamble.