Blockhouse immediately west of Featherwood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021034

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of Blockhouse immediately west of Featherwood
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2019 at 23:20:51.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rochester


National Grid Reference: NT 81471 03927


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

Reasons for Designation

The Army Training Estate Otterburn (ATEO) is one of eight Army Field Training centres in the UK and is the largest single live firing area in the country. It has been operational since 1911 when the War Office acquired about 20,000 acres (8094ha) of land in Redesdale, Northumberland to create a seasonal tented camp and artillery range for the training of the newly formed Territorial Forces. The pattern of artillery firing from Easter to October fitted in with local sheep farming practices, and byelaws to control access during live firing periods were introduced in 1916. A period of intense training occurred during World War I to prepare both artillery and infantry units for war, including the construction of a sector of front line trenches at Silloans to practice infantry companies in the routines of defence, control of overhead artillery fire and relief in the line. After World War I the previous pattern of training was restored and continued to 1939, the only change being that from horse drawn to lorry drawn guns in 1938. During World War II, the training area doubled in size with the acquisition and subsequent purchase of a further 20,000 acres (8094ha) to create a second Artillery Range and camp at Otterburn. In 1959 the Ranges were renamed as an All Arms Training Area and five infantry fire and manoeuver areas at Quickeningcote, Wilkwood, Davyshiel, Sills and Heely Dodd were constructed under the Thurlow Plan. From 1969 Otterburn was designated as one of seven Principal Training Areas in the UK and became increasingly used for fire and manoeuver training by infantry units supported by artillery, mortars, guided missiles and air to ground attack aircraft. Developments since 1969 have included the construction of another battle shooting area at Ridleeshope and a moving target railway system at Stone in the Mire for engagement by wire guided anti tank-missiles.

The blockhouse immediately west of Featherwood survives well and in an unmodified condition. Its construction represents an early attempt by the War Department to execute its obligations to its farming tenants during periods of live fire. As such it is clearly of military construction but, intended for civilian use, it is an important and significant feature of early range safety.


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


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of a blockhouse situated on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. The blockhouse, which is now redundant, has been inserted into the narrow valley bottom of the upper Sills Burn where it lies below the sight line. The blockhouse, which lies immediately across the burn from Featherwood Farm, is clearly of military construction and shares similar constructional techniques with other blockhouses on the Range. It is thought that it was constructed by the military and served as an early blast shelter for the protection of the inhabitants of Featherwood during periods of live firing at the Redesdale Range. It was superceded by the construction of a second blast shelter attached to the rear of Featherwood, which is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The blockhouse, situated into the right (west) bank of the burn, is rectangular in shape and, constructed of reinforced concrete. It measures a maximum of 3.4m north west to south east by 5.2m north east to south west and stands to 2.4m above ground level at its north east face and 0.5m at its south west face which is largely buried into the bank of the burn. The structure was intended to be shellproof and the walls are therefore 0.6m thick. Two embrasures pierce the south east and north west faces measuring 0.93m wide by 0.23m deep externally which narrow to 0.48m by 0.2m internally. Unusually both embrasures have wooden window frames internally. A rectangular doorway 0.6m wide at one end of the north west face similarly retains the remains of a wooden door frame and gives access to a passageway, which leads directly into the interior of the blockhouse. Evidence of the wooden plank shuttering used in construction of its roof is exhibited in the concrete.

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: 32793

Legacy System: RSM


Document 118/Northern/229, Statement of Barrack Accommodation 1931 Redesdale practice camp, (1931)

End of official listing