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Okehampton Artillery Range: Observation Post 6 and Incline Target Carrier Railway

A Scheduled Monument in Okehampton Hamlets, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6952 / 50°41'42"N

Longitude: -3.9786 / 3°58'42"W

OS Eastings: 260351.583848

OS Northings: 90266.769406

OS Grid: SX603902

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.RHT3

Mapcode Global: FRA 27K7.MTF

Entry Name: Okehampton Artillery Range: Observation Post 6 and Incline Target Carrier Railway

Scheduled Date: 2 October 2015

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1424332

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Okehampton Hamlets

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Widecombe-in-the-Moor St Pancras

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Summary

A late-C19 target carrier railway and observation post on Dartmoor.

Source: Historic England

Details

PRINCIPAL FEATURES: a c.1895 inclined target carrier railway that includes a long, curvilinear cutting that follows the east slope of East Mill Tor (partly incorporated into the Loop Road) and terminating at Skit Bottom, 175m south of the East Okement Farm enclosures; and the former trolley shed, now called Observation Post 6.

DESCRIPTION: the inclined target carrier railway consists of a turf-covered stone shelter with concrete lining, known as Observation Post 6 (OP6) and a curvilinear cutting, formerly used by a moving target railway, between SX 6038390820 and SX 6029889816. OP6 measures 6.4m north to south by 2.5m, and rises to 2.0m above ground. It has a depth of 1.0m in places and forms a mound mostly covered by turf. The entrance to the south is protected by a steep, splayed stone cutting. The wide entrance portal is supported by a timber lintel, and the interior corrugated iron ceiling is supported on timber cross beams that are evenly-spaced. The side and rear walls are exposed rubble stone. The interior is subdivided into two roughly equal sections by a chest-height cast-concrete partition with iron rungs fixed to the outer face and a steel handrail to the top.

The embanked ditch, or cutting, that formed the head of the target carrier railway leads south-east from OP6 before making a sharp U-turn north. It descends through a long steep-sided cutting measuring on average 2.8m wide at its base and 1.8m deep. At SX 6029490193 the cutting ends and the trackbed joins the Loop Road; diverting east from it at SX 6035590416. Shortly before the trackbed ends on inclined open ground, a short branch curves to the north-east between SX 6041390486 and SX 6039690600. The branch may have been the former course of the railway, or used to service target trolleys. At the northern end of the trackbed, at SX 60419073, is an L-shaped mound approximately 4.5m long. It is recorded as being of stone with corrugated iron elements, its former function is unknown and it is possibly an early-mid-C20 feature.

A number of timber sleepers at approximate 1.0m intervals are visible along the course of the trackbed, and cast-iron sleepers and track chairs have been recorded in the northern section. The gauge of the track appears to have been approximately 20 inches.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: the monument consists of two separate areas of protection. The boundary runs between SX 6038390820 in the north and SX 6029889816 in the south, to include the target carrier track bed and cutting, and Observation Post 6. The track route is subdivided by a later military loop road at SX 6035590416; the road continues at a lower level along the side of the railway bank to south to SX 6029790192. The road is not included in the scheduling. The earthwork features between SX 6041390486 and SX 6039690600, and an L-shaped mound at SX 60419073 are also not included in the scheduling. A buffer of 2m is included around the whole monument for the support and preservation of the earthworks, with the exception of the edge of the scheduling that runs along the loop road as described above.

EXCLUSIONS: two cable tapping-in points within the interior of the mound are excluded from the scheduling, although the wall and floor structure beneath is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Observation Post 6 and the incline target railway at Okehampton Artillery Range are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
 
* Period: the Royal Artillery Training Range at Okehampton played an important role in the advancement of new military techniques and tactics from the late C19 to the present day, and has a strong cultural and historical significance, within both a local and national context;
* Survival: the observation post and earthwork features survive well, providing clear evidence of their original construction and the development of artillery tactics and weaponry;
* Rarity: as the official summer school of the School of Gunnery, the range at Okehampton became the most important artillery range established in the late-C19, with a set of imaginative, and in some cases unique, practice range features. Late-C19 incline target carrier railways are particularly rare;
* Documentation: the features have been documented in historical maps of the range, and a number of landscape and condition surveys throughout the C21;
* Group value: the site has strong group value with the other related military training features. The associated camp to the north is of historic significance in itself, particularly the listed late-C19 buildings, and the two sites should not be seen in isolation of each other. The Okehampton bunkhouses and target railways are a key part of a larger multi-phased military landscape that can be seen across Dartmoor.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Websites
English Heritage Pastscape - Monument No. 832018, accessed 11/2/2015 from http://www.pastscape.org.uk
The Armed Forces on Dartmoor: A Brief History, accessed 11/2/2015 from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/33309/armed_forces_ondartmoor_brief_history.pdf
Other
Francis, P (2002) Okehampton Artillery Range, Devon: Report and Photographic Survey (unpublished)
Probert, S, (2004) Okehampton Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey English Heritage (unpublished)
WO78/4547 Okehampton Ordnance Survey Map of Camp and Artillery Ranges 1892 Reproduced in 1906, from the National Archives

Source: Historic England

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