World War II bombing decoy control building 270m south of Scalm Park Cottages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020499

Date first listed: 07-Mar-2002


Ordnance survey map of World War II bombing decoy control building 270m south of Scalm Park Cottages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Selby (District Authority)

Parish: Wistow

National Grid Reference: SE 56452 32544


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.

The World War II bombing decoy control building 270m south of Scalm Park Cottages survives well and significant information about the function and technology of the dummy aerodrome and its role in the wider decoy system in the North of England will be preserved.


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


The monument includes the standing remains of a control building for a World War II dummy aerodrome. It is located on level ground on the southern part of the Vale of York 5km west of Selby. The primary purpose of the site was to act as a decoy in order to divert enemy aircraft from attacking the important RAF fighter station at Church Fenton located 6.5km to the north west. The location of the decoy is referred to in contemporary Air Ministry documents as Hambleton. Church Fenton aerodrome was opened in April 1937 as part of 13 Group Fighter Command. By 1940 it was one of five fighter airfields in the region and housed squadrons of Hurricane, and later Spitfire aircraft. It was also designated as a `sector' station and thus received information direct from the radar stations on the coast and from the headquarters of the Royal Observer Corps at York and Leeds. The importance of the station was reflected by it having had three night decoys and one day decoy: it was one of only 8 of the 36 fighter stations in the country to have a day decoy. No significant remains of these other decoys survive. The Hambleton dummy aerodrome site was a night decoy, known as a`Q' site, which had a lighting display used to simulate activity on a real airfield at night. This included a motor head lamp which was a single lamp swinging in a pattern to replicate the nose lamp of an aircraft moving on the ground, flare path lighting for a landing strip and obstruction and/or recognition lights. The lighting was controlled from a night shelter, which also provided accommodation and protection for the operating crew, housed the generators powering the lights and provided communications via a telephone line to the parent station. Establishment personnel from the parent station at Church Fenton undertook operation of the decoy. The decoy site was located to the south east of the parent station as enemy aircraft would have followed a course along the Humber Estuary and River Ouse before swinging north towards Church Fenton and thus the decoy was placed on the anticipated line of approach. The first currently known reference to the site is dated 1 August 1941 and the latest 12 August 1942. The surviving control building follows the standard Air Ministry design for night shelters (3395/40). It is a simple three roomed building measuring 11.4m by 3.2m with a central covered entrance passage extending 2m to the south. It is built of brick with a concrete roof. To the left of the entrance passage is the operations room, which originally contained the lighting control panel, telephone, and amenities for the crew. There is a roof escape hatch located on the end wall opposite the entrance. To the right of the entrance passage is the engine room which housed the generator. Night shelters were originally partly sunken for protection but later models, including this example, were at ground level to avoid problems with flooding.

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: 34844

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Fields of Deception: Britains Bombing Decoys of WWII, (2000)
Upton, D, 'The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Bombing of Yorkshire 1939-1945, , Vol. VOL 59, (1987), 159-174

End of official listing