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Farm blast shelter at Featherwood

A Scheduled Monument in Rochester, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.3292 / 55°19'44"N

Longitude: -2.2927 / 2°17'33"W

OS Eastings: 381524.062328

OS Northings: 603939.136284

OS Grid: NT815039

Mapcode National: GBR D6FT.FG

Mapcode Global: WH8ZD.R9DY

Entry Name: Farm blast shelter at Featherwood

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021035

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32794

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Rochester

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Horsley with Byrness

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the standing and buried remains of a blast shelter
situated on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. The shelter, which is now
redundant, is attached to the rear, north east side of Featherwood
farmhouse. It was intended to provide shelter and protection for the
inhabitants of Featherwood during periods of live firing on the World War
I and later Redesdale Artillery Range. It is thought that this blast
shelter superceded an earlier, smaller shelter constructed 50m to the
south, which is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The blast shelter is visible as a rectangular blockhouse, of red brick
construction. Oriented north east to south west, it has maximum dimensions
of 4.27m by 7.23m and stands to a maximum height of 3.1m. The thickness of
the walls, which are 0.6m wide indicate that the shelter was constructed
to be shellproof. The shelter has a concrete roof 0.2m thick, which has
been patched in places, and a concrete plinth at ground level 0.2m high.
Originally, entry from the farmhouse to the blast shelter was through a
small passageway now demolished. The shelter is entered through a
rectangular doorway in its west side; above the doorway there is a 12
light rectangular window. Inside the shelter the impressions of the wood
shuttering used in construction of the roof is exhibited in the concrete.
A circular opening pierces the roof at its southern end and the remains of
metal fixings on the south wall indicate the former existence of a stove
flue. Three rectangular wall vents pierce the south, east and west walls
of the shelter. The blast shelter displays a form of construction more
commonly seen in small domestic surface shelters of 1939.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Army Training Estate Otterburn (ATEO) is one of eight Army Field
Training centres in the UK and is the largest single live firing area in
the country. It has been operational since 1911 when the War Office
acquired about 20,000 acres (8094ha) of land in Redesdale, Northumberland
to create a seasonal tented camp and artillery range for the training of
the newly formed Territorial Forces. The pattern of artillery firing from
Easter to October fitted in with local sheep farming practices, and
byelaws to control access during live firing periods were introduced in
1916. A period of intense training occurred during World War I to prepare
both artillery and infantry units for war, including the construction of a
sector of front line trenches at Silloans to practice infantry companies
in the routines of defence, control of overhead artillery fire and relief
in the line. After World War I the previous pattern of training was
restored and continued to 1939, the only change being that from horse
drawn to lorry drawn guns in 1938. During World War II, the training area
doubled in size with the acquisition and subsequent purchase of a further
20,000 acres (8094ha) to create a second Artillery Range and camp at
Otterburn.

In 1959 the Ranges were renamed as an All Arms Training Area and five
infantry fire and manoeuver areas at Quickeningcote, Wilkwood, Davyshiel,
Sills and Heely Dodd were constructed under the Thurlow Plan. From 1969
Otterburn was designated as one of seven Principal Training Areas in the
UK and became increasingly used for fire and manoeuver training by
infantry units supported by artillery, mortars, guided missiles and air to
ground attack aircraft. Developments since 1969 have included the
construction of another battle shooting area at Ridleeshope and a moving
target railway system at Stone in the Mire for engagement by wire guided
anti-tank missiles.

The farm blast shelter at Featherwood survives well and in an unmodified
condition. Its construction represents an attempt by the War Department to
execute its obligations to its farming tenants during periods of live
fire. As such it is an important and significant feature of early range
safety.

Source: Historic England

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