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Cloch Lighthouse, anti-submarine tethering points 15m north and 10m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Inverclyde West, Inverclyde

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9424 / 55°56'32"N

Longitude: -4.8788 / 4°52'43"W

OS Eastings: 220309

OS Northings: 675898

OS Grid: NS203758

Mapcode National: GBR 07.YMXR

Mapcode Global: WH2M8.1W1T

Entry Name: Cloch Lighthouse, anti-submarine tethering points 15m N and 10m SW of

Scheduled Date: 31 March 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12802

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Anti-submarine boom-tethering point

Location: Inverkip

County: Inverclyde

Electoral Ward: Inverclyde West

Traditional County: Renfrewshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of two steel and concrete tethering points for an anti-submarine boom and dates to the Second World War. The monument is located on the foreshore of the Clyde below the Cloch Point Lighthouse.

Each point consists of one concrete pad of irregular plan, measuring around 3m by 2m and set into the natural rock of the foreshore. Set on end into the centre of each pad are three light railway rails. The rails protrude from the concrete to a height of around 0.3m and form a column with a rectangular section. The concrete pads are set apart at a distance of around 25m.

The area to be scheduled comprises two circles in plan centred on the visible remains and including an area around them within which evidence relating to their construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes drainage pipes to the south-west of the S area and to the south of the N area.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument comprises two well-preserved anti-submarine tethering points. The concrete pads are in a good state of preservation and the metal rails, probably steel, though showing significant evidence of corrosion, are also in a relatively good condition. The monument functioned as anchor points to which one end of a large boom was tethered. The boom stretched across the breadth of the Clyde for around 3 km from Cloch Point to Dunoon on the N shore, via the Gantocks, a small group of rocks at the mouth of West Bay.

The boom, constructed of two parallel subsurface metal nets with surface floats, was a defensive structure installed during World War Two to prevent enemy submarines and ships sailing up the Clyde estuary and into the important allied anchorages at the Tail o' the Bank and the sea lochs along the coast. The boom system was operated by a number of ships. It had to be opened much like a gate to allow allied naval and merchant shipping access to and from the Clyde. Vessels approaching the boom from down river were required to stop and wait for clearance in an inspection anchorage, located to the south of Toward Point around 11 km to the SSW. Photographic evidence shows a single line of boom defence in operation during World War One along the same axis. It is unclear if the tethering points were originally constructed for this or the later boom.

The monument has an inherent capacity to further our understanding of the design, construction and operation of naval defensive structures. The possibility of evidence for the development of the system between the two World Wars highlights a potential for the monument to inform our understanding of advances in defence technology and tactics during this period.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on the foreshore at Cloch Point, on the SE side of the Clyde. The River Clyde was of global strategic importance in the Second World War. The vast natural harbour of the firth and the associated sea lochs are a natural shelter from Atlantic storms. The location of the Clyde on the W coast of Scotland ensured its convenience as an end point for important routes to Ireland, other parts of Scotland and further west to America. The proximity of the river to the large populated and industrial areas of Gourock, Greenock, Glasgow and Paisley ensured access to goods, ships, manpower, and power bases, both civil and military. Ship building boomed on the banks of the Clyde in the 19th century and by the 20th century a number of companies specialised in the building of merchant ships and later, with the onset of war, warships.

Greenock had become increasingly strategically important during World War Two as the London Docks came under intense attack and supplies had to be re-routed. It was also a key naval anchorage and at this time became one of the busiest ports in the world. The anchorage even temporarily became host to the Home Fleet after the sinking of the battleship HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow in 1939. By this time the Clyde was also an important centre for naval ship building and point of departure for merchant supply ships and a destination for convoys bringing vital supplies across the Atlantic. Among the most important cargoes to leave the Clyde were various munitions produced in the industrial areas adjacent to the river. Later in the conflict the Clyde was used as a marshalling point for invasion fleets bound for North Africa and Normandy.

The defence of this critical strategic asset was of the utmost priority. A directive from the Ministry of Defence in 1941 stated 'we must be ready to meet concentrated air attacks on the ports on which we specially rely (Mersey, Clyde and Bristol Channel). They must therefore be provided with a maximum defence.' A sophisticated system of interrelated elements was developed to protect the Clyde from air and sea attack. The remains of several structures relating to this system are found in the immediate vicinity of the monument. Set out along the edge of the point at regular intervals are the remains of three emplacements, part of a searchlight battery. On the hill above the lighthouse, around 210m to the east, are the remains of a coastal battery.

Anti-submarine defences were vital to this system: by the Second World War German U-boats were a real and dangerous threat. If the defences of the Clyde were breached U-boats would be free to fire upon civilian and naval targets with potentially catastrophic effect to the war effort and moral. At Eerie Port, around 20km to the SSW on Great Cumbrae Island, a submarine listening post is recorded. This would have been used to listen for submarines attempting to penetrate the Clyde boom. Two single-storey buildings survive, converted to an activity centre. Several other examples of anti-submarine booms are known around the coast of Scotland. Examples include those at Campbeltown Loch, on the E coast of the Kintyre Peninsula, Loch Ewe, to the west of Ullapool on the W coast, Loch Fyne on the Clyde, Cromarty Firth on the Moray Firth and three around Scapa Flow in Orkney. The booms worked in conjunction with several other elements such as minefields, listening posts, control points and engine houses.

The monument is shown to be of a rare type with less than a dozen similar monuments recorded in Scotland. It reflects the defensive needs of a very specific threat during a relatively short period. The monument was an integral part of a local system of defences designed to counteract that threat and was vital for preserving the security of the Clyde. As part of this defensive network the monument has the capacity to add to our knowledge of a large-scale, centrally co-ordinated system of defence and our understanding of the nature of 20th-century warfare.

Associative characteristics

The monument is associated with both the First and the Second World Wars. In particular the monument is associated with the strategically important safe anchorage of the Clyde and contributed towards the success of the associated Battle of the Atlantic, the longest military campaign of the Second World War. The impact of the Second World War on the lives and landscape of Scotland in the late 1930s and 1940s was on a scale never before witnessed. The mobilisation of the entire country to aid the war effort would transform the social and economic character of the nation and the new threat of long-range aerial attack brought the war directly into the daily lives of the civilian population. Its place in the national consciousness remains prominent to this day, and many people alive today remember first hand the experiences and impact of the conflict. The monument retains the potential to inform our understanding of 20th-century warfare and the impact of the Second World War on the people and landscapes of Inverclyde and Scotland.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the defence of the strategically important Clyde area during the Second World War. It has the capacity to illustrate the techniques of military, especially naval, design and construction. As a particularly rare type of monument it demonstrates the ingenuity and resourcefulness of a society under attack and is a testament to the people that manned it and those that it helped to protect. Its loss or diminution would impede significantly our ability to understand the function, location and use of such monuments in Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge of Second World War defensive tactics, specifically anti-submarine measures.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NS27NW 137.

References

Osborne, B D and Armstrong, R 2005, The Clyde at War, Birlinn: Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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