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Target operator bunker, cable trenching and three target pits 650m north of Hopehead

A Scheduled Monument in Otterburn, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2709 / 55°16'15"N

Longitude: -2.1654 / 2°9'55"W

OS Eastings: 389587.070032

OS Northings: 597424.295761

OS Grid: NY895974

Mapcode National: GBR F79H.ZC

Mapcode Global: WHB0S.QS14

Entry Name: Target operator bunker, cable trenching and three target pits 650m north of Hopehead

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021038

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32797

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Otterburn

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Otterburn St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument is situated immediately outside the eastern boundary of the
Davyshiel Field Firing Box on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. It
includes the upstanding and buried remains of a target operator bunker
including the target lever apparatus, three target pits and the
distribution box and associated cable trenches. This bunker is part of a
group of five, which formed a small arms training area constructed under
the provisions of the Thurlow Plan from 1962 to 1964. The other four
target operator bunkers are the subjects of separate schedulings.

The bunker is of standard form and dimensions, and facing east, it is
visible as a square blockhouse of concrete construction, measuring 2.4m
across and approximately 2.3m high within walls 0.3m thick. A single
narrow and wide embrasure measuring 2.1m by 0.2m with vertical metal bars
pierces its north side. The blockhouse is entered from a subterranean
passage, 0.76m wide, along the full length of its eastern side, through a
reinforced metal door. The metal fixings for a second door are visible on
the east wall of the bunker at the other end of the passage. The entrance
passage itself is approached from the north by a descending flight of
steps, which extend 2.75m to the north, protected by concrete blast walls
0.24m thick. A third projecting blast wall protects the western side of
the blockhouse. The bunker is capped with earth and turf 0.2m high, and
its south, east and west sides are encased in an earthen mound of soil 2m
wide. The original bunker number V written in white paint is retained on
the north end of the blast wall, which flanks the western side of the

Internally, the blockhouse is lined with asbestos sheets and has a wooden
shelf and an electricity supply fixed to its south wall. The bunker housed
a system of cables and levers which military personnel operated manually
to raise and lower three remote targets across the firing area. The target
apparatus, consisting of a system of levers and cables, is housed in a
wooden frame situated against the north wall immediately below the
embrasure. The cables leading from this mechanism emerged through a
rectangular recess situated immediately below the embrasure and were fed
into a wooden distribution box situated some 4m in front of north side of
the bunker. The concrete base of this box is visible containing the metal
pickets and shackles which fed the cables in the direction of each of the
targets. The trenches, which contained the cables running to the targets,
are visible as linear depressions approximately 0.4m deep, which in places
retain metal fixings.

This bunker operated three remote targets, situated 62m west, 50m north
and 24m south east of the bunker; the pits which housed the targets are
each visible as wood lined rectangular hollows 2.5m by 2m wide and up to
0.3m deep. Each contains the metal remains of the target mechanism.

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

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 target operator bunker, cable trenching and three target pits 650m
north of Hopehead survive well with a range of component features intact.
They were constructed as part of a wider group of five bunkers and mark
the highly significant change at Otterburn from an Artillery Range to an
All Arms Training Area in the late 1950s. They are not thought to be
paralleled by similar structures anywhere in the United Kingdom and hence
they are an important and highly significant survival. Taken as a group
they represent a major phase in the development of the Otterburn ATE.
The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of the target
pits containing the remains of the metal target mechanism and their
associated cable trenches.

Source: Historic England


Title: Thurlow Plan Phase II: Davyshiel Area Tgt Op Bunkers 4 & 5
Source Date: 1963

Source: Historic England

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