Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 400m west of Sutton Fields Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 400m west of Sutton Fields Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 54916 79352

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.

The Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite 400m west of Sutton Fields Farm is exceptionally well-preserved. The operational core of the original plan survives as standing concrete and brick buildings with few additions or demolished structures. The details include electrical fittings and the hardboard wall linings of the command post and wooden racks for the shells in the four standing gun emplacements. The concrete stanchions for the perimeter fence also survive.


The monument includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of the World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) gunsite at Sutton Weaver. In official army records this site is called Station H18 or Sutton. The site includes the core functional buildings, consisting of five gun emplacements, a command post, two garages with maintenance bays adjacent to them and a generator building. Billeting for the staff was in huts to the south of the present complex and these have not survived. Station H18 was first mentioned in February 1940. In June 1942 it was armed with four 3.7in guns supported by GL MkII radar and manned by units of the Home Guard. It was not one of the 192 HAA gunsites to be retained as part of the post-war Nucleus Force after 1945. The gun emplacements are arranged in an arc around the south eastern and south western sides of the central command post. The defence focus was therefore the Weaver Navigation and the Manchester Ship Canal. Four of the emplacements survive as concrete octagonal open pens, measuring approximately 7.5m across with two opposing open facets. There are no hinge bolts for steel blast doors in these buildings. Inside each, attached to four of the six remaining walls there are concrete roofed boxes which served to store ammunition and offer shelter for the gun crews when they were not in action. Wooden racking for the shells survives in some of these boxes. On two of the outside walls of each gunpit there is also a concrete roofed shelter, which served as a shelter and store for equipment. These four emplacements survive to their original height. A fifth emplacement is represented by a circular concrete plate set into the ground to the east of the command post. The rest of this emplacement has been levelled. To the north of the emplacements and occupying the centre of the site is a concrete roofed command post with its centre open to the sky. This would have held offices, a predictor and a telescope for identifying target aircraft. This complex is partly below ground level. In these buildings electrical fittings, the original hardboard wall lining and even cardboard fire regulation notices survive. The radar was probably situated 20m to the north on a brick revetted platform. To the north west and north east of the command post are two brick-built open bays, approximately 8m square with open sides facing into the centre of the complex. The walls are approximately 2m high and the structures are unroofed. Each is associated with a concrete garage. Some 40m to the north of the command post is a large concrete roofed building with garage bay doors on the eastern side and steel louvre grills on the south wall. This was for a heavy generator to provide power for the complex independent of the national electricity supply. The site is surrounded by its original concrete posts which used to support a wire-mesh fence and two rows of barbed wire at the apex. Several items are excluded from the scheduling. These include: all modern fences and gates, more recent doors and wooden attachments to the original buildings, permanent and semi-permanent outbuildings and caravans. The ground beneath these features, however, 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.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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