Ancient Monuments

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Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 380m east of South Lane Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Bold, St. Helens

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Latitude: 53.3873 / 53°23'14"N

Longitude: -2.691 / 2°41'27"W

OS Eastings: 354141.52042

OS Northings: 388052.544566

OS Grid: SJ541880

Mapcode National: GBR 9YN8.6G

Mapcode Global: WH87K.M4S1

Entry Name: Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 380m east of South Lane Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 August 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019531

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33855

County: St. Helens

Civil Parish: Bold

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Farnworth St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool


The monument includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of the
majority of a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gunsite known as Station
H17 and Barrows Green gunsite in military records. The site includes the
functional core of the gunsite with a command post, radar platform, four
gun emplacements, a generator building and ancillary buildings situated 380m
east of South Lane Farm. A fifth gun emplacement and ancillary buildings
have been removed in recent years in preparation for the construction of a
second agricultural building on the southern half of the original site. The
site was commissioned by February 1940 and manned by units of the Royal
Artillery. In June 1942 it was equipped with two 3.7 inch guns together with
GL Mk II radar. This site was not selected as one of the 192 HAA gunsites
which were retained after the war as part of the Nucleus Force and which
formed part of the defences of the country during the Cold War.
The gun emplacements were constructed out of concrete to a fairly standard
pattern, and with the exception of interior fixtures and fittings are
substantially complete. They form an arc facing north east around the central
radar and command buildings. Each emplacement is octagonal in shape, open to
the sky, with two opposed entrances fitted with steel blast doors of which
only hinge brackets survive. The central pit in each case measures 7.5m across
with a concrete floor and central ring of steel bolts for mounting the gun. On
each of the six concrete walls internally there is a roofed chamber for
storing ammunition and holes are visible in the side walls to take wooden
racking to support the shells. Outside each gunpit there is a concrete shelter
attached to opposite walls of the octagon which served as a store and
waterproof recess for the gun crew when on standby.
The central command buildings, which remain roofed and substantially intact,
are partly underground and partly open to the sky. At the eastern end of this
complex is a double ramp leading up to what was a radar installation. In the
interior there was a telescope for identifying aircraft, a predictor and a
height finder with rooms for the operating personnel. The central command post
is flanked by two roofed concrete buildings which appear to have been offices.
One of these retains its steel window frames and wooden door frames. Situated
70m to the north of the central area is a two-roomed roofed building with
garage doors which probably housed the generator section and workshops. Two
outside toilets have been added to this complex. The buildings are linked by a
concrete roadway which encircles the core buildings and links the gun
emplacements. To the south of the site there are the remains of concrete
building platforms on which the living and further office quarters for the
battery were located. The buildings no longer survive above ground apart from
a water tank in the southern side of the site beside the main road. This area
has been disturbed by later buildings including a modern bungalow which has
been built over the south eastern end of the domestic camp area. The southern
half of the original camp area is not included in the scheduling.
All modern post and wire fences, a greenhouse and incinerator are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 gunsites 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 gunsites 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 gunsites, 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
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
gunsites, 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 gunsites, 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 gunsites 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 gunsites 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. This includes 30 of the 192 examples which continued in use
until 1955. Surviving examples are therefore sufficiently rare to suggest that
all 60 well preserved examples are of national importance.

Despite the removal of one of the gun emplacements and some ancillary
buildings, the Heavy Anti-aircraft gun site 380m east of South Lane Farm
contains archaeological and structural evidence relating to the form and
function of this World War II military installation.
The survival of the radar facility is comparatively unusual, as are structural
details such as electrical fittings and rooftop airvents which survive in the
command post.

Source: Historic England

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