Air to Ground Gunnery Range – Main Markers Shelter (reference R1 on map)
This building is situated about half a mile to the North-West of the landing ground and looks to be of similar design to others found in Cumbria (See Defence of Cumbria in the 20th Century website). The building is about 100 yards from the current clifftop/beach.
It is not known exactly when the Air to Ground range (and hence this shelter building) was built, possibly construction took place before 1939. Early wartime site plans (pre-1940, before the airfield increased in size) show the Main Markers Shelter (building R1), two Wing Markers Shelters (No. 1 to the south still extant, and No. 2 to the north, demolished many years ago) plus narrow gauge railway track running in front of all three buildings, parallel to the coast. The plans show 10 “Frame” targets, five each side of the Main Markers Shelter, to the landward side of the track.
Some steel “Decauville” type narrow gauge railway sleepers of about 2ft gauge were found near to the buildings though there are no visible signs of a trackbed now, the land being used for cattle grazing and crops. The moving target range at Hell’s Mouth used wooden sleepers of 3ft gauge, so it is assumed these metal sleepers originated from the track associated with the Air to Ground gunnery range.
The building is constructed from reinforced concrete with impressions of the wooden shuttering used in construction still clearly visible. The walls and roof are very substantial.
Front (Seaward) Face
Questions & Comments
- The doorway is large, approximately 4 feet wide and over 9 feet high which suggests that it would have been possible to take the “Frame” targets inside the building. If this did happen, was it for storage of the targets or repair (or both) ? There are traces of door hinges on the wooden doorframe which indicates that there existed a ‘stable-type’ door with the split being approximately two-thirds/one-third, the larger part being at the bottom.
- What is the purpose of the metal rods that are mounted on three sides of the building in two rows just visible on the left and right sides of the photo about half way up and near the roof ?
- Just to the lower left of the window is a circular hole that is assumed to be from a stove flue. The hole corresponds to a hearth inside the building and above the hole on the outside there are remains of bolts for holding the flue in place. Presumably the stove was for heating purposes.
- Was the building originally earth-covered for protection or camouflage ? There is earth on the roof of other similar remaining buildings elsewhere but it is thought unlikely that the building was completely covered/buried.
- It is a large building,approximately 25ft by 21ft and has a large viewing window. What was the internal layout of the building and exactly what tasks were performed there ?
- The narrow gauge railway track passed to the seaward side of the building, a few yards from it. Were the “Frame” targets on small railway wagons or trollies ? Is so, how were the targets moved about ? If the targets were not rail mounted, what was the purpose of the railway track ?
This is a view of the east (doorway) side. Note the metal rods visible in a line near to the roof.
Questions & Comments
- What was the purpose of the rectangular openings in the wall of both the East and West sides ? They are about 2ft by 1ft and both aligned with each other. Was it to observe the “Frame” targets on either side ?
- Also, left of the rectangular opening on the East side (towards the doorway) and also on the front of the building at its western end are some angled holes with metal inserts that go all the way through the wall and are approximately four inches in diameter. Were these for routing some sort of cables or something else ? (See detail photo below.)
Details from the western end of the building.
Questions & Comments
- Ignoring the boat (!) there are remains of a number of small concrete bases in the ground with what looks like post holes in them, about four inches square. What was there and what was its purpose ?