Rowner Garrison Church

Rowner Garrison Church

Rowner Garrison Church a photo taken by the author in 1966

Rowner Garrison Church a rare photo taken by the author in 1966. Few photos of the church have been taken.

The Garrison Church in Military Road, later known as Siskin Church or the ‘Tin Church’, was constructed as a temporary church in July 1872 to serve the nearby Gosport Advanced Line forts joined by the Military Road. Originally an Army garrison church it was taken over by the RAF and then the Royal Navy.

Built of wood with a slate roof it was expected to last 50 years but was still in use in the 1960s.

Rowner Garrison Church shown on a War Department map of 1890.

Rowner Garrison Church shown on a War Department map of 1890.

The church stood in its own parcel of land on the east side of Military Road, close to Brockhurst Station, opposite the keep to Fort Rowner. The church was one large nave with an east facing stained glass window and two side isles with a small lady chapel used by the Sunday School. To the left side of the chancel was the vestry and the church office was to the right. Beneath the chancel was a boiler room. At the west end of the knave with a small wooden bell tower and steeple.
To the front of the church was the entrance porch.

Adjacent to the fort was a wooden hut used by the Sunday School and for other church functions. Next to this was a small brick-built toilet block.
The church was used by visiting regiments that were quartered within the barracks of the forts throughout the Victorian period. When the Royal Navy took over the airfield and it became H.M.S. Siskin and then H.M.S. Sultan the officiating priest was a naval padre. He was supported by a Church Army Captain, who in the 1960s was Captain White, ably assisted by his wife Sybil. Together they ran the Sunday school.

Brockhurst Station with the church nearby on a plan of 1910

Brockhurst Station with the church and The Red House nearby on a plan of 1910

Mr Don Dubar, the verger, reported to the newspaper in 1950 that the steeple was removed because it had become too weather worn. An iron cross had been knocked out of line by the trailing rope of a barrage balloon. The roof was replaced with steel roof beams and corrugated iron sheets. Internally it was lined with timber match boarding and fibre board sheeting. A small replacement wooden bell tower was constructed next to the porch.

Fort Brockhurst Station with the garrison Church to the right

Fort Brockhurst Station with the garrison Church to the right

The 8th Gosport Air Scout group used the church for its church parades once a month in the post war years to the 1960s. This scout group had its headquarters in a wooden gymnasium nearby in Baden Powell Road, off Cambridge Road, next to the old Fort Rowner Married Quarters.

Next to the church was ‘Red House’, built post 1900 and home to the commanding officer RAF Gosport and then the Officer Commanding of H.M.S. Siskin and then Sultan until 1969.

An aerial view over Fort Rowner in 1925 with the church beyond

An aerial view over Fort Rowner in 1925 with the church beyond

In 1967 the decision was made to close the church because the supporting timbers were rotting and the whole structure moved in high winds. The church and Red House were demolished by 1969 and the land has remained unused since then.

Siskin Church

Siskin Church interior

Rowner Garrison Church

Rowner Garrison Church interior

H.M.S.Sultan Church

H.M.S.Sultan Church viewed from Military Road

National Archives: Kew
AIR 2/236 AIR and MILITARY FORCES: Army British, (CODE A, 12/1): Arrangements on taking over of Garrison Church, Fort Rowner, Gosport, by R.A.F. from Army. (1922-1931)