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Cloch Lighthouse, coast battery 295m SSE of

A Scheduled Monument in Inverclyde West, Inverclyde

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9398 / 55°56'23"N

Longitude: -4.8768 / 4°52'36"W

OS Eastings: 220424

OS Northings: 675601

OS Grid: NS204756

Mapcode National: GBR 07.YVSL

Mapcode Global: WH2M8.2Y0V

Entry Name: Cloch Lighthouse, coast battery 295m SSE of

Scheduled Date: 25 March 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12803

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: 20th Century Military and Related: Battery

Location: Inverkip

County: Inverclyde

Electoral Ward: Inverclyde West

Traditional County: Renfrewshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of the control buildings of the Cloch Point coastal defence battery, dating to the Second World War. The remains consist of two buildings representing the former command and observation posts for the battery. Elements of the gun platforms survive in the nearby caravan park and remains of the related searchlight battery and anti-submarine boom can be found by the shore of the firth. The site is located on a slope overlooking Cloch Point and the Firth of Clyde at around 70m above sea level.

The command post now lies in an area of woodland adjacent to Cloch Caravans. The site consists of two structures around 20m apart. The structure to the east is composed of three distinct elements. The southern section comprises a roughly square, brick and concrete structure with a flat concrete roof, measuring around 6m N-S by 5m transversely. This appears to have been a former control room for the battery. The entrance is in the eastern wall of the structure and a single large window exists in each wall, except for the W wall which has two. Remains of internal fittings and fixtures and the interior paint scheme survive within the room and there is evidence to suggest a partition may once have divided the room into two areas. The middle section of the structure formerly held targeting and observation equipment for the battery and is offset slightly to the west of the first room and at a lower level, being partially cut into the slope. The structure measures around 3m N-S by 8m transversely. It is entered through a doorway from a small exterior sunken courtyard to the east, which is around 5m N-S by 1.5m transversely and accessed via a small staircase. A barred window also looks out onto this space from the main room of the middle section. The roof of the main room slopes down to the west and a large slit takes up the western side of the structure, providing a wide field of visibility for spotting and targeting enemy vessels. Inside is the remains of the concrete plinth for the targeting equipment and a concrete block which would formerly have been the base for a small stove. In the N wall of the structure is a doorway leading through to another small room with a window in its W wall and which would likely have housed a generator or similar equipment to supply power. A third small room, measuring around 2m N-S by 1.5m transversely, is accessed through a doorway in the north of the courtyard space, with a window in the same wall.

The second surviving structure is slightly downhill to the west. It comprises a three-cell brick and concrete structure measuring around 9m N-S by 3.5m transversely. The two southernmost cells have a flat concrete roof, while the N cell is now missing its roof but this appears to have been of corrugated iron. Windows are located in the W wall of the two N cells. The S cell has a large bay extending to the west with a balcony area outside, which would probably have served as an observation post.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, with maximum dimensions of 50.5m WNW-ESE by 31.6m transversely, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

This well-preserved example of the control buildings for a large coastal battery dates to the Second World War. It is a good example of a monument which would have been a common and familiar sight in coastal regions in the 1940s. Given the excellent level of preservation of the site there is a high potential for further archaeological deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the battery to survive both within and around the structures. As a critical strongpoint in the defence of the Firth of Clyde and the access to the anchorages and industries further up the river and adjoining sea lochs, this site could potentially supply valuable information about the needs and technologies of Second World War coastal defences as the war progressed. Remains surviving in and around the structures could supply valuable information regarding the function and use of the buildings and the daily lives of the troops stationed on the site.

Contextual characteristics

The monument lies on a west-facing slope overlooking the Firth of Clyde and across to the Kyles of Bute. The Clyde was the most significant strategic asset in the west of Scotland, and one of the most significant assets of the entire country. It was home to the most extensive shipbuilding industry in Britain, an extensive range of other important industrial concerns such as munitions, and was the destination point for the Atlantic convoys bringing vital supplies and troops from the United States. Later in the war it would also serve as a vital mustering point for the fleets involved in the invasions of North Africa in 1942 and Normandy in 1944. This site was part of a series of defensive emplacements located on and around Cloch Point, which also included searchlight batteries and an anti-submarine boom from the Cloch Lighthouse across the Firth of Clyde to the Gantocks and Dunoon on the opposite shore.

The location of this site is now restricted by trees, but during its use the site would have had a clear field of vision to the south and west across the firth. Cloch Point forms a natural defensive point on the access from the Firth of Clyde into the river itself and the sea lochs at Holy Loch, Loch Long, Loch Goil and Gare Loch. These all held significant assets to the strength of the Allies in the European theatre, including secure anchorages, industries and a variety of training and mustering areas. As the sea lochs and river meet the Firth of Clyde, the stretch of water narrows as it rounds Cloch Point before widening again to the south. This natural bottleneck provides a more easily defensible line than at the wider sections and simultaneously defends both the river and the sea lochs further upstream. As a result of this natural defensibility, Cloch Point was fortified for coastal defence in both the First and Second World Wars, and indeed remained so in the inter-war years, with the two 6-inch guns first being transferred from Portkil Battery in October 1916 and remaining on site on a care and maintenance basis until the end of 1956. The emplacements for the guns were then filled in to be used as caravan bases, but elements of both remain visible today.

Associative characteristics

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 at first-hand the experiences and impact the conflict had on them.

The industrial workers of the Clyde had been notoriously left-wing during the First World War, with many of the leaders of the so-called 'Red Clydesiders' finding themselves imprisoned for their objections to the conflict. With the outbreak of the Second World War, however, the need to fight was recognised as greater than personal feeling and the Clydesiders willingly took their part in aiding the war effort. In the west of Scotland, the war would create an industrial boom that would prove unsustainable after the end of the war with the drop in shipbuilding, and the resulting economic decline would never be reversed. Very little evidence now survives of this former landscape.

A high level of effort was made to protect the strategic asset of the Clyde during the Second World War. The anti-aircraft defences of the Clyde GDA contained one third of the HAA batteries in Scotland, and the same number as the next largest two combined, the Scapa and Forth GDAs. The coastal defences were no less impressive, with fixed gun positions (such as the Cloch Point example) working in conjunction with searchlight batteries, minefields, patrolling warships and anti-submarine defences to prevent enemy shipping reaching the industries and large-scale anchorages of the civilian and military fleets beyond Cloch Point.

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 defences of the Clyde during the Second World War and their place within the wider defensive network of wartime Britain. The remains of the battery may hold valuable information about the function and operation of such sites and the daily lives of the troops stationed on them. This site is particularly valuable given its excellent state preservation and its role in protecting one of the most significant assets of the Second World War in Britain. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the efforts and sacrifices made to defend the Clyde during the Second World War and the preparation, construction, use and eventual abandonment of the defences themselves.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NS27NW 21: Cloch Point Battery; Coastal Battery (20th Century). The WOSAS SMR designation is 20024: Cloch Point Battery; Coast Battery.

References

Osborne, M 2004, Defending Britain: Twentieth Century Military Structures in the Landscape, Stroud: Tempus Publishing Ltd.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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