Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 380m east of South Lane Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019531

Date first listed: 24-Aug-2000


Ordnance survey map of Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 380m east of South Lane Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: St. Helens (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Bold

National Grid Reference: SJ 54136 88056


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Although of comparatively recent date, 20th century military sites are increasingly seen as historic survivals representing a defining episode in the history of warfare and of the century in general; as such they merit careful record and, in some cases, preservation. One of the more significant developments in the evolution of warfare during this period was the emergence of strategic bombing in World War II, and this significance was reflected by the resources invested in defence, both in terms of personnel and the sites on which they served. During the war, the number of people in Anti-aircraft Command reached a peak of 274,900 men, additional to the women soldiers of the ATS who served on gunsites from summer 1941, and the Home Guard who manned many sites later in the war. A national survey of England's Anti-aircraft provision, based on archive sources, has produced a detailed record of how many sites there were, where they were and what they looked like. It is also now known from a survey of aerial photographs how many of these survive. Anti-aircraft gunsites divide into three main types: those for heavy guns (HAA), light guns (LAA) and batteries for firing primitive unguided rockets (so called ZAA sites). In addition to gunsites, decoy targets were employed to deceive enemy bombers, while fighter command played a complementary and significant role. Following the end of World War II, 192 HAA sites were selected for post-war use as the Nucleus Force, which was finally closed in 1955. The HAA sites contained big guns with the function of engaging high flying strategic bombers, hence their location around the south and east coasts, and close to large cities and industrial and military targets. Of all the gunsites, these were the most substantially built. There were three main types: those for static guns (mostly 4.5 and 3.7 inch); those for 3.7 inch mobile guns; and sites accommodating 5.25 inch weapons. These were all distinct in fabric, though they could all occupy the same position at different dates, or simultaneously by accretion. As well as the four or eight gun emplacements, with their holdfast mountings for the guns, components will generally include operational buildings such as a command post, radar structures including the radar platform, on-site magazines for storing reserve ammunition, gun stores and generating huts, usually one of the standard Nissen hut designs. Domestic sites were also a feature of HAA gunsites, with huts, ablutions blocks, offices, stores and amenities drawn from a common pool of approved structures. Sites were often also provided with structures for their close defence; pillboxes are the most common survivals, though earthwork emplacements were also present. The layout of HAA gunsites was distinctive, but changed over time, for example to accommodate the introduction of radar from December 1940, women soldiers from summer 1941, and eight gun layouts from late 1942. Nearly 1,000 gunsites were built during World War II, and less than 200 of these have some remains surviving. However, at only around 60 sites are these remains thought sufficient to provide an understanding of their original form and function. This includes 30 of the 192 examples which continued in use until 1955. Surviving examples are therefore sufficiently rare to suggest that all 60 well preserved examples are of national importance.

Despite the removal of one of the gun emplacements and some ancillary buildings, the Heavy Anti-aircraft gun site 380m east of South Lane Farm contains archaeological and structural evidence relating to the form and function of this World War II military installation. The survival of the radar facility is comparatively unusual, as are structural details such as electrical fittings and rooftop airvents which survive in the command post.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of the majority of a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gunsite known as Station H17 and Barrows Green gunsite in military records. The site includes the functional core of the gunsite with a command post, radar platform, four gun emplacements, a generator building and ancillary buildings situated 380m east of South Lane Farm. A fifth gun emplacement and ancillary buildings have been removed in recent years in preparation for the construction of a second agricultural building on the southern half of the original site. The site was commissioned by February 1940 and manned by units of the Royal Artillery. In June 1942 it was equipped with two 3.7 inch guns together with GL Mk II radar. This site was not selected as one of the 192 HAA gunsites which were retained after the war as part of the Nucleus Force and which formed part of the defences of the country during the Cold War. The gun emplacements were constructed out of concrete to a fairly standard pattern, and with the exception of interior fixtures and fittings are substantially complete. They form an arc facing north east around the central radar and command buildings. Each emplacement is octagonal in shape, open to the sky, with two opposed entrances fitted with steel blast doors of which only hinge brackets survive. The central pit in each case measures 7.5m across with a concrete floor and central ring of steel bolts for mounting the gun. On each of the six concrete walls internally there is a roofed chamber for storing ammunition and holes are visible in the side walls to take wooden racking to support the shells. Outside each gunpit there is a concrete shelter attached to opposite walls of the octagon which served as a store and waterproof recess for the gun crew when on standby. The central command buildings, which remain roofed and substantially intact, are partly underground and partly open to the sky. At the eastern end of this complex is a double ramp leading up to what was a radar installation. In the interior there was a telescope for identifying aircraft, a predictor and a height finder with rooms for the operating personnel. The central command post is flanked by two roofed concrete buildings which appear to have been offices. One of these retains its steel window frames and wooden door frames. Situated 70m to the north of the central area is a two-roomed roofed building with garage doors which probably housed the generator section and workshops. Two outside toilets have been added to this complex. The buildings are linked by a concrete roadway which encircles the core buildings and links the gun emplacements. To the south of the site there are the remains of concrete building platforms on which the living and further office quarters for the battery were located. The buildings no longer survive above ground apart from a water tank in the southern side of the site beside the main road. This area has been disturbed by later buildings including a modern bungalow which has been built over the south eastern end of the domestic camp area. The southern half of the original camp area is not included in the scheduling. All modern post and wire fences, a greenhouse and incinerator are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33855

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing