Stokes Bay



The School of Electric Lighting


The School Of Electric Lighting, Stokes Bay

The Royal Engineers handed over responsibility for submarine mining to the Admiralty after 1904 and the Stokes Bay Submarine Mining Establishment was retained by the Royal Engineers for training in electrical engineering. One plan shows it as the School of Electric Lighting (Searchlights) but all subsequent plans show it as The School of Electric Lighting.



School of Electric Lighting (Searchlights)


The Submarine Mining Establishment buildings at Stokes Bay after they became the School of Electric Lighting (Searchlights) Note the tramway.


The School of Electric Lighting in 1933: The tramway is still there.


The School of Electric Lighting in 1933: The tramway is still there.


The School of Electric Lighting buildings 1939: The tramway is missing.


The School of Electric Lighting buildings 1939: The tramway is missing.




aerial view of the site


Some of the foundations of the buildings can just be seen on an aerial view of the site in Flash Earth



school of electric lighting

The School of Electric Lighting shortly before it was demolished, viewed from the Fort Gilkicker side.


The School of Electric Lighting buildings in 1954. A view from Gosport pier in 1954 showing the School of Electric Lighting with Fort Gilkicker in the distance. The 'Servitor' was used by the R.N. Degaussing Station (H.Q. in Fort Rowner) to lay and retrieve a Degaussing Range sensor frame. This consisted of 18 sensors and was laid on the sea bed, North South, to check ships magenetic signatures.
The School of Electric Lighting buildings in 1960. An aerial view of the School of Electric Lighting taken in the 1960s. Stokes Bay pier can also be seen.
The School of Electric Lighting buildings in 1935/36. The top of Fort Gilkicker has been bleached as a War Time precaution. The School of Electric Lighting in an aerial photograph taken in 1935/36.



The Tyne Electrical Engineers

The Tyne Electrical Engineers were originally Submarine Miners but after the Navy took over this responsibility they became closely associated with Coast Defence Lights. In 1903 they camped at Stokes Bay carrying out mining work at Spithead. They returned again in 1905 and 1906 using Fort Monckton. By this time they were operating a mobile 90cm Coast Defence searchlight. They assumed the position of Second Senior Volunteer Electrical Engineer Unit and again held their camp at Stokes Bay in 1907. In 1912 Gosport was the War Station for two of their companies. Among the earliest extemporised Anti Aircraft lights manned by the Tyne Electrical Engineers were ones at Forts Monckton, Gilkicker, Elson, Brockhurst, Grange, Lumps and Horse Sand. Number 9 (Tyne) Mobile Searchlight Company, Royal Engineers was formed at Haslar in March 1916 with three Sections of four lights each. In 1914 the TEE set up telephone links at Portsmouth and their HQ was at Mildam Barracks, Portsmouth. They became responsible for the entire military telephone system for Southern Coast Defences. In November 1915 the TEE formed Company No.5 at Haslar to supplement the Scottish coast defences of the Firth of Forth. They handed this over to local forces in June 1916. In 1915 the TEE took over the RE School at Stokes Bay. The School's name was later changed to AA Searchlight and Sound Locator School based at Ryde on the Isle of Wight.


The Tyne Royal Engineers Camp at Haslar in 1903.

The Tyne Royal Engineers Camp at Haslar/Monckton in 1903.


No.6 Electric Light Company R.E. was based at Stokes Bay in 1914.


In 1924 the 22 Fortress Company R.E. occupied Fort Monckton and the workshops at Stokes Bay were still in use.


In 1932 a memorandum accompanying the Army Estimates stated that it had been decided to entrust the responsibility for manning the whole of the Coast Defences of the UK to the Territorial Army. On the withdrawal of the Regular personnel from the ports a specialist cadre  was left behind to assist in operating the more complicated instruments in the defences and at the three Naval ports, one of which was Portsmouth, R.E. parties remained for maintenance services. Out of the Engineer personnel withdrawn a new Regular Fortress Company was formed for duty at Portsmouth and was used to operate part of the Portsmouth searchlights and to keep abreast of technical developments in lights for the benefit of the whole coastal service. This arrangement reduced the School of Electric Lighting at Stokes Bay to purely defence work in conjunction with the new Fortress Company, and all other engineer training was transferred to the School of Military Engineering at Chatham.


More R.E. photographs at Fort Monckton


The School of Electric Lighting  continued to be used by the R.E. until the 1960. In 1961 the War Office asked Gosport Borough Council if it wished to purchase the 113 acres at Stokes Bay (school of Electric Lighting, Gilkicker Weekend Training Centre, major part of Golf Club land & lake). Various wrangles ensued. In 1972 the Council announced the proposed acquisition of 110 acres land at Gilkicker, mostly tenanted by the Golf Club, valued at £90,000 for whole, £9,000 for golf course.

The buildings of the Army School were finally demolished by civilian contractors under contract to the Ministry of Defence by July 1974 when Gosport Borough Council acquired the land from the M.O.D. Little evidence of this hugely important site remains today apart from a few blocks of concrete and bricks amongst the grass and shingle on the beach.

1/8 Hampshire Electric Light Company, Royal Engineers. Taken at Milldam Barracks, Portsmouth, the H.Q. of the Royal Engineers Engineer and Artillery officers at The S.E.L. in 1939 Monckton R.E. Electric Light Class No.3 Anti Aircraft and Electric Light Company Hants Fortress Royal Engineers, Territorials, at Haslar Drill Hall. Photo kindly suppllied (C) by Alec Jackson.



Tyne Electrical Engineers





Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.