Heavy Anti-aircraft Battery at Norley 365m south east of Finger Post Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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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 57130 71785
Reasons for Designation
Cold War monuments are a manifestation of the global division between
capitalism and communism that shaped the history of the late 20th century.
Heavy Anti-aircraft (HAA) Batteries - one of many monument classes that
characterise this period - formed an integral part of the United Kingdom's
anti-aircraft defences at an early stage of the Cold War, when defence
strategy looked to the World War II for inspiration. These batteries were
designed to counter a perceived threat of Soviet-manned turboprop bombers
carrying atomic bombs to major conurbations. By the mid-1950s a new
technology of fast jet bombers, the hydrogen bomb, and long-range rockets
had rendered them obsolete.
Early Cold War HAA Batteries were grouped around major conurbations and
armament-producing areas, forming part of an elaborate anti-aircraft
defence system that also included radar stations, Royal Observer Corps
posts, interceptor aircraft, Anti-aircraft Operations Rooms, and Light
Anti-aircraft Batteries. The deployment of HAA, particularly those with
heavier 5.25 inch guns, reflected the threat from high altitude bombers.
The increasing importance of defence electronics to predict the course of
a fast-moving target was echoed in the provision for the gun-laying radars
and predictors, whilst hardened command posts for individual batteries
show the need to ensure secure communications.
There are two prinicipal types of post-war HAA batteries: those for the
smaller calibre 3.7 inch guns, and those for the heavy 5.25 inch guns. The
3.7 inch sites usually comprise four emplacements in a shallow arc with
the guns mounted on a central holdfast in each. The 5.25 inch emplacements
are far more elaborate, with a deep pit beneath the gun housing a
hydraulic system to absorb recoil and automated loading systems. Sites
newly built in the system are usually L-shaped in plan, but with
variations in internal layout. Associated with both types are gun stores,
standby generator buildings, command posts, structures or hard-standings
for gun laying radars and predictors, domestic accommodation and other
minor features. Some are associated with contemporary Anti-Aircraft
Following English Heritage's comprehensive assessment of Cold War
monuments, the location and type of each post-war HAA battery in
England is known. Of the c.1,000 anti-aircraft gun sites in England
built during World War II, 192 were selected at the end of the war
for retention as a Nucleus Force, by 1950 reorganised into three key
areas (Forth/Clyde, Mersey/Midlands and London/Southeast), a scheme
known as Igloo, that comprised 78 sites, 54 with guns permanently
mounted. A year later, in response to increased fears about the
Soviet Union, heightened by the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950,
683 HAA were listed in a mobilisation plan. These included both
retained or reoccupied wartime sites, and new sites in greenfield
Any Cold War HAA Battery constructed after 1945 which has significant
surviving remains, including its plan, form and gun emplacements, is
considered to be of national importance.
Following a national survey of Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsites built in the Cold war period, the Heavy Anti-aircraft battery at Norley 365m south east of Finger Post Farm is identified as a rare example of a site that was commisioned and which now retains significant surviving remains including the gun emplacements. In all thirty sites were to be built in the Mersey area, though construction of most was delayed pending the start of hostilities, or increased threat to the region. Only three were eventually built. It is estimated that around twenty such sites were constructed nationally.
The monument includes the above and below ground remains of a Cold War
Heavy Anti-aircraft battery at Norley.
The site is one of a small number of gun batteries which were constructed around 1950 to supplement the surviving World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft batteries which had been designated for retention after the war. The site was designed to accommodate four guns of 5.25 inch calibre in order to assist the protection of the Mersey industrial area from attack by high-flying bombers during the Cold War. The site is situated above the north bank of the Small Brook and the arrangement of the gun emplacements faces towards the south east. This site was directed from an Anti-aircraft operations room at Frodsham, 7km to the north west.
The remains comprise a battery of four gun emplacements arranged in a shallow arc, 15m apart, with two main reinforced concrete buildings in support. One was the emergency generator and weapons maintainance store, measuring approximately 16m by 8m and one was the command post, measuring approximately 24m by 8m. Both buildings survive with all structural elements complete. These are situated 180m to the west of the gunpits. Each of these elements is linked by a tarmac roadway 5m wide which has concrete curbs. Beside the command post there is a 20m by 15m hardstanding for vehicles. A concrete platform for a building, measuring 3m by 5m, built of brick and now demolished lies 20m to the west of the gun pits. Also west of the gun emplacements are two other concrete building bases, possibly the site of some small metal Nissen huts. To the west of the command post, the base for a larger brick-built building subdivided into a number of small rooms and possibly an ablutions block also survives. Further remains may exist in the current wooded environs of the site. The 100m long approach road from the Norley Road is also of tarmac and on its western side just before the entrance to the site there is a 5m by 3m concrete building platform which was probably a guard house for the battery.
The four gun emplacements are under a low mound. The above ground concrete baffle walls were destroyed by explosives in about 1970 when the site was being prepared for a tree nursery, but the underground hydraulic recoil mechanisms are thought to survive in situ. All other elements survive with their structures intact although, some interior partitions have been removed.
All post and wire fences and the modern steel gates across entrances are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them 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:
- Legacy System:
EH, Class Assessment, HAA Batteries,
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