Farm blast shelter at Featherwood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021035

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of Farm blast shelter at Featherwood
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This copy shows the entry on 09-Dec-2018 at 21:21:33.


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 81524 03939


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 farm blast shelter at Featherwood survives well and in an unmodified condition. Its construction represents an attempt by the War Department to execute its obligations to its farming tenants during periods of live fire. As such 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 blast shelter situated on the Otterburn Army Training Estate. The shelter, which is now redundant, is attached to the rear, north east side of Featherwood farmhouse. It was intended to provide shelter and protection for the inhabitants of Featherwood during periods of live firing on the World War I and later Redesdale Artillery Range. It is thought that this blast shelter superceded an earlier, smaller shelter constructed 50m to the south, which is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The blast shelter is visible as a rectangular blockhouse, of red brick construction. Oriented north east to south west, it has maximum dimensions of 4.27m by 7.23m and stands to a maximum height of 3.1m. The thickness of the walls, which are 0.6m wide indicate that the shelter was constructed to be shellproof. The shelter has a concrete roof 0.2m thick, which has been patched in places, and a concrete plinth at ground level 0.2m high. Originally, entry from the farmhouse to the blast shelter was through a small passageway now demolished. The shelter is entered through a rectangular doorway in its west side; above the doorway there is a 12 light rectangular window. Inside the shelter the impressions of the wood shuttering used in construction of the roof is exhibited in the concrete. A circular opening pierces the roof at its southern end and the remains of metal fixings on the south wall indicate the former existence of a stove flue. Three rectangular wall vents pierce the south, east and west walls of the shelter. The blast shelter displays a form of construction more commonly seen in small domestic surface shelters of 1939.

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: 32794

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing