Ancient Monuments

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Second World War heavy anti-aircraft battery 590m north east of Highwood House, Pur Down, Bristol

A Scheduled Monument in Lockleaze, Bristol

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Latitude: 51.4859 / 51°29'9"N

Longitude: -2.5613 / 2°33'40"W

OS Eastings: 361123.773026

OS Northings: 176477.825909

OS Grid: ST611764

Mapcode National: GBR CH6.M5

Mapcode Global: VH88G.KXB8

Entry Name: Second World War heavy anti-aircraft battery 590m north east of Highwood House, Pur Down, Bristol

Scheduled Date: 7 June 1985

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004531

English Heritage Legacy ID: BS 184

County: Bristol

Electoral Ward/Division: Lockleaze

Built-Up Area: Bristol

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bristol

Church of England Parish: Stapleton

Church of England Diocese: Bristol


The monument includes a Second World War heavy anti aircraft battery, situated on a ridge called Purdown, in Stoke Park, Bristol. It first held mobile anti-aircraft guns in 1939, but was subsequently converted into a permanent reinforced concrete and brick-built battery with octagonal gun emplacements, integral ammunition bays, blast walls and shelters in June 1940. Also present at the complex were a command post and other associated buildings. Two square gun positions with magazines were added later. The whole survives to full height retaining many of its original features. It was manned by the Royal Artillery Regiment.

Sources: PastScape 201335

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Although of comparatively recent date, 20th century military sites are increasingly seen as historic survivals representing a defining episode in the history of warfare and of the century in general; as such they merit careful record and, in some cases, preservation. One of the more significant developments in the evolution of warfare during this period was the emergence of strategic bombing in World War II, and this significance was reflected by the resources invested in defence, both in terms of personnel and the sites on which they served. During the war, the number of people in Anti-aircraft Command reached a peak of 274,900 men, additional to the women soldiers of the ATS who served on gun sites from summer 1941, and the Home Guard who manned many sites later in the war. A national survey of England's Anti-aircraft provision, based on archive sources, has produced a detailed record of how many sites there were, where they were and what they looked like. It is also now known from a survey of aerial photographs how many of these survive. Anti-aircraft gun sites divide into three main types: those for heavy guns (HAA), light guns (LAA) and batteries for firing primitive unguided rockets (so called ZAA sites). In addition to gun sites decoy targets were employed to deceive enemy bombers, while fighter command played a complementary and significant role. Following the end of World War II, 192 HAA sites were selected for post-war use as the Nucleus Force, which was finally closed in 1955. The HAA sites contained big guns with the function of engaging high flying strategic bombers, hence their location around the south and east coasts, and close to large cities and industrial and military targets. Of all the gun sites these were the most substantially built. There were three main types: those for static guns (mostly 4.5 and 3.7 inch); those for 3.7 inch mobile guns; and sites accommodating 5.25 inch weapons. These were all distinct in fabric, though they could all occupy the same position at different dates, or simultaneously by accretion. As well as the four or eight gun emplacements, with their holdfast mountings for the guns, components will generally include operational buildings such as a command post, radar structures including the radar platform, on-site magazines for storing reserve ammunition, gun stores and generating huts, usually one of the standard Nissen hut designs. Domestic sites were also a feature of HAA gun sites with huts, ablutions blocks, offices, stores and amenities drawn from a common pool of approved structures. Sites were often also provided with structures for their close defence; pillboxes are the most common survivals, though earthwork emplacements were also present. The layout of HAA gun sites was distinctive but changed over time for example: to accommodate the introduction of radar from December 1940, women soldiers from summer 1941, and eight gun layouts from late 1942. Nearly 1,000 gun sites were built during World War II, and less than 200 of these have some remains surviving. However, at only around 60 sites are these remains thought sufficient to provide an understanding of their original form and function. Bristol and the port of Avonmouth were one of the main targets for the Luftwaffe. During the war there were about twenty battery sites in existence around Bristol, of which eight were fixed. The Second World War heavy anti-aircraft battery 590m north east of Highwood House, Pur Down, Bristol was one of the earliest and is particularly well preserved retaining many original features.

Source: Historic England

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