A night dummy aerodrome control building, part of a World War II bombing decoy, 610m north east of Walby Cottage


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020277

Date first listed: 10-Oct-2001


Ordnance survey map of A night dummy aerodrome control building, part of a World War II bombing decoy, 610m north east of Walby Cottage
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Stanwix Rural

National Grid Reference: NY 44145 61174


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

Reasons for Designation

World War II saw the emergence of aerial bombardment as a decisive instrument of warfare, and to counter this threat, the United Kingdom maintained a flexible and diverse mechanism of air defence throughout the war. This included the early warning of approaching aircraft, through radar and visual detection, and the local defence of towns, cities and other vulnerable points using anti-aircraft gunnery and balloon barrages. But less conspicuously, many potential targets were shadowed by decoys - dummy structures, lighting displays and fires - designed to draw enemy bombs from the intended points of attack. Britain's decoy programme began in January 1940 and developed into a complex deception strategy, using four main methods: day and night dummy aerodromes (`K' and `Q' sites); diversionary fires (`QF' sites and `Starfish'); simulated urban lighting (`QL' sites); and dummy factories and buildings. In all, some 839 decoys are recorded for England in official records, built on 602 sites (some sites containing decoys of more than one type). This makes up the greater proportion of the c.1000 decoys recorded for the United Kingdom. The programme represented a large investment of time and resources. Apart from construction costs, several thousand men were employed in operating decoys, the fortunes of which were closely tied to the wartime targets they served. The decoys were often successful, drawing many attacks otherwise destined for towns, cities and aerodromes. They saved many lives. `K' sites (also known as Dummy Landing Grounds [Day] or DLG[D]) were intended to replicate RAF satellite airfields, rudimentary landing grounds used as an adjunct to permanent stations for the dispersed operation of aircraft. As such, the decoy consisted of simulated grass runways, simple technical and defensive structures including trenches, dummy aircraft, a windsock, petrol and bomb dumps represented by conspicuous dug-up areas, and a limited range of facilities for the crew manning the decoy. There were ten dummy aircraft allocated to each site, the type reflecting the function of the `parent' station. Forty-two decoys in England are recorded as having a `K' component, located mostly in eastern counties. The `Q' sites were intended to simulate the flarepath lighting of permanent RAF stations as a lure to attack by night bombers and intruder aircraft. The programme lasted until August 1944 during which time the lighting configurations changed periodically to shadow developments on real airfields. Common features of Q sites included the lighting arrangements and a night shelter. The night shelter is generally all that survives. In all, 236 sites with a `Q' component are recorded in England. These are distributed mostly in the east, and in central and southern England. Very little now survives of any of these decoys, most having been cleared after the war. All sites with significant surviving remains will be considered of national importance, as will those where a well-preserved night shelter has been identified.

Despite a covering of vegetation and scrub, the World War II night dummy aerodrome control building 610m north east of Walby Cottage survives well. It is a control building of a type known as a Drem Q 364/71, a type located mainly in the east, central and south of England, and as such it is an extremely rare example of this class of monument to be located in north west England.


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


The monument includes the upstanding remains of a night dummy aerodrome control building which formed part of a World War II bombing decoy. This dummy aerodrome, known as a `Q' site, was intended to simulate the flarepath lighting of Crosby aerodrome, now Carlisle Airport 4km to the east, with the intention of luring attack by enemy night bombers approaching from the west using the Solway Firth and the River Eden for navigation. Although the precise lifespan of this dummy aerodrome is not known, official records indicate that it was operational during August 1942. The control building, also known as a night shelter, is of a type introduced in September 1941 and known as a Drem Q 367/41. Set on a concrete base it is of brick, concrete and corrugated iron construction and has three rooms. Access is by a brick-built central passageway on the building's west side. To the right of the passageway is a concrete engine room which housed two generators set on concrete engine beds; both engine beds still survive in situ. Remains of two expansion chambers linked to the engine room by pipes and designed to curb the noise of the generators survive outside the building. To the left of the passageway is the operating room formed of corrugated iron sheeting. It was manned by two men from the parent aerodrome and contained a telephone, control panel and a stove, all of which have been removed. An entrance at the far end of the operating room is protected by an external brick-built blast wall. Another blast wall protecting the central passageway entrance does not now survive above ground level. On the roof of the building, above the operating room, was a head-lamp platform accessed by a flight of external steps. The control building is covered with a layer of earth which offers both camouflage and added protection from bomb blasts. In practice the control building was under the command of Crosby aerodrome. If the parent aerodrome wanted the night dummy lit up and there was an air raid warning out, the operations staff at the parent station would ring up the night dummy. The two men staffing the dummy would start up the generators then switch on the dummy aerodrome lights and the head-lamp. The head-lamp was manipulated in such a way as to suggest a taxiing aircraft pivoting on one wheel as it turned. This action was performed until an incoming aircraft was heard approaching near enough to pick out the landing lights. The head-lamp was then switched off and the reaction of the aircraft observed by the two staff at the dummy. If the aircraft was friendly and signalled that he wanted to land, ie mistook the dummy lighting for a real aerodrome, the two staff immediately switched the flarepath lights off. If the aircraft was an enemy who started to attack, the flarepath lights were left on and the two staff took cover and reported by telephone to the parent aerodrome. A field boundary and all fence posts 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.


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

Legacy System number: 34970

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Volume 3. Bombing Decoys of WWII, (1996), 21-5
Dobinson, C S, Fields of Deception: Britains Bombing Decoys of WWII, (2000), 46-7

End of official listing