Rifle Range target and Marker's Hut, 150m north west of Blea Moss

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1455816
Date first listed:
10-Aug-2018
Location Description:
Rifle Range Target - NY 29364 03518 by Blea Moss, between Blea Tarn and Wynrose Pass, Little Langdale Valley.

Target Marker's Hut - NY 29375 03506. (About 10m south of the target).

Map

Ordnance survey map of Rifle Range target and Marker's Hut, 150m north west of Blea Moss
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

Location Description:
Rifle Range Target - NY 29364 03518 by Blea Moss, between Blea Tarn and Wynrose Pass, Little Langdale Valley.

Target Marker's Hut - NY 29375 03506. (About 10m south of the target).
County:
Cumbria
District:
South Lakeland (District Authority)
Parish:
Lakes
National Park:
LAKE DISTRICT
National Grid Reference:
NY2937103511

Summary

The remains of a late-C19 military rifle range, situated on the west side of Blea Moss, immediately below the footpath from Blea Tarn to Wrynose Pass. It is visible as the remains of a single, erect target and a probable target marker's hut.

Reasons for Designation

The rifle range target and target marker's hut on Blea Moss, erected in the later C19, are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: an intact target of mid-C19 form with inscribed target rings evidence of bullet strikes, associated with a contemporary and reasonably well-preserved marker’s hut; * Potential: taken together they will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the construction and operation of C19 local volunteer force rifle ranges; * Documentation: the site is reasonably well-documented in historical sources and has been the subject of a recording survey; * Rarity: a very rare, erect and intact mid-C19 designed target and the only one recorded in England; * Historic importance: as part of this wider national programme, the remains of the rifle range on Blea Moss has significance as a key element of later-C19 national defence policy; * Group value: taken together with the scheduled remains of two further ranges erected for the Grasmere RVC at Silver How, they span almost a century of military training.

History

Garrison duty in various parts of the Empire combined with the military needs of the Crimean War revealed a home defence gap in Britain’s mid-C19 military provision. Tensions with France amid concerns over a wider European conflict in the late 1850s saw the creation in 1859 of the Rifle Volunteer Corps (RVC) comprising more than 180,000 volunteers within the first few months. Corps generally consisted of 60 to 100 men, under the command of a Captain. They were expected to attend drill and exercise 24 days a year; and in order to fulfil the requirement for shooting practice, a substantial range building programme began. As part of the wider national scheme the 6th Westmorland Rifle Volunteer Corps was established at Grasmere comprising 49 men under the command of Captain Jasper Selwyn, with a sub-division in Langdale comprising 26 men under the command of Lieutenant James Bowsfield. The corps were formally accepted for service in 1860. During the 1880s Grasmere RVC was absorbed into the 2nd Westmorland Volunteer Battalion of the newly formed Borders Regiment.

In addition to their two ranges at Silver Howe, the Grasmere RVC established a firing range on Blea Moss in about 1887; the Westmorland Gazette for 8 January 1898 reports that the annual Christmas prize shooting for the Grasmere RVC (along with the Langdale subdivision) took place on New Year’s Day and that the butts recently erected at Blea Moss were used for the first time. The fact that the rifle range is not depicted on the 1:2500 third edition Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1912/13, suggests that it was a short lived facility and had ceased use by this time. However, the small stone-built hut identified as a target markers' hut is depicted on this map. The likelihood that the range was short-lived is supported by the fact that few bullets were identified in the vicinity of the target.

The cast-iron target plates forming the target conform to the design of rifle ranges for RVCs set down in 'Drill and Rifle Instruction for Volunteer Rifle Corps' issued by the War Office in 1859. In the late C19 there was a change from hard to soft targets which saw such mid-C19 bullet-proof iron targets replaced by penetrative targets set into window sash target hoists. The fact that in 1897 out-dated, non-penetrative targets were erected at this rifle range is unusual.

This target is understood to be the only example remaining in England that remains standing in its original form. The only other range in the UK with an iron target standing in its original position is Pant Glas Range, North Wales.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: the remains of a late-C19 military rifle range, situated on the west side of Blea Moss, immediately below the footpath from Blea Tarn to Wrynose Pass. It is visible as the remains of a single, erect target and a probable target marker's hut.

DESCRIPTION: the target comprises four cast-iron bullet-proof plates measuring six feet by two feet set upon a stone base which are slightly inclined backwards, erected side by side on the side of a hill. The target is not set upon a mound and there is no target butt, the hillside serving the purpose of the latter. Inscribed target rings are clearly visible upon the target face, which also bear evidence of bullet strikes. Six of the original eight metal supporting stays attached to the rear of the target remain in situ, and are held in position by stone rubble. The maker’s name ‘Hill & Smith, Brierly Hill, Nr Dudley & 112 Queen Victoria St, London’ is cast on the back of each of the plates. Some 10m to the south east are the lower courses of an L-shaped stone-built building interpreted as a target markers’ shelter. The building measures about 6m 4m and stands to a maximum height of 2.2m. There is an entrance on the south-west side, and a re-entrant angle on the north west side, which would have enabled a clear view of the target from within. Firing platforms would have been located on Blea Moss to the east; none have been identified but a number of natural rocky knolls may have been used.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: this includes the target and the adjacent stone hut, each included within a circular area of protection 7m and 10m respectively, which also includes a margin of 2m around the features.

Sources

Other
Great Grandad's Army: Rifle Ranges Of The Lake District, J R Robinson et al, 2016

Legal

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

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