Gloucester Lodge Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery (Seaton Valley)
The presumed site of Gloucester Battery is in the field west of Gloucester Lodge Farm. The field contains medieval ridge and furrow cultivation, now under permanent pasture. In addition there are the remains of gun emplacements and radar station. WAAFs were stationed there. (2)
NZ 318 784. World War II heavy anti-aircraft artillery site. Site number B, positioned to defend Blyth. The site is listed as present in the site list of 22 June 1942.The site was armed with four 3.7in (static) AA guns and a GL MkIII fire-control radar. (see also NZ 28 NE 27 and NZ 28 SE 35). (3)
One of three Heavy Anti Aircraft Batteries built to defend Blyth. The exact date of its occupation is unknown but it appears on aerial photographs taken on 10th August 1941. The site was originally armed with four guns, later increased to six, and there are two types of gun position to confirm this. There is also a rare 40mm gun position to the north of the site. To the rear of the site is a radar platform around which are a number of concrete buildings. These have been built on an area of wire mat suggesting possible post-war updating of the radar system with a parabolic aerial. Some of the gun mountings have also been altered to take more modern guns, either late in the war or immediately afterwards. (4)
SRF, HAA, Gloucester Lodge, Recorder - A. Rudd. (5)
One of the best preserved HAA batteries in the north of England. It has a standard clover-leaf plan with four octagonal gun emplacements arranged in an arc focused on the command post. Rectangular emplacements for 3.7 inch MK11C guns, installed from 1943 onwards, survive at either end of the arc and, as at other sites where this occurred, might imply some modification of the battery during the course of the war. Other structures nearby include ammunition stores, accommodation and a gun laying radar ramp with hexagonal 'chicken-wire' false datum enclosure. (6)
A Second World War heavy anti-aircraft battery, radar station, search light battery, military camp, pillbox, barbed wire obstruction, trench, weapons pit and trackway are visible as structures and earthworks on air photographs. Additional 20th century military buildings are also present. (7)
Additional bibliography, where it is noted that the battery is remakably complete. (8)
Scheduled on 30 January 2014.
SUMMARY OF MONUMENT: Gloucester Lodge Battery includes the buried, earthwork and standing remains of a multi-phase Second World War heavy anti-aircraft gun battery and radar site, as well as a Cold War heavy anti-aircraft gun and radar site. The battery occupies a level pasture field retaining extensive rig and furrow cultivation.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: This multi-phase Second World War heavy anti-aircraft gun battery and radar site, and later Cold War heavy anti-aircraft gun and radar site, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: it is one of only a handful of complete or near complete Second World War gun batteries that was adapted for continued service during the Cold War;
* Survival: generally good survival of all component parts in a variety of forms including buried features, associated earthworks and standing remains, the latter retaining evidence of their original fittings. The survival of the radar ramp is particularly unusual;
* Potential: the remains will enhance our detailed understanding of the construction, function and use of this military site type in Britain as well as serving as a tangible symbol of the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction;
* Historic interest: it is an important and evocative witness to national defence policy both during the Second World War and the Cold War;
* Group value: the site is a multi-phase but legible ensemble, in which the functioning of the various parts is strongly sensed and where the military experience is readily captured;
* Period: a multi-phase gun site that is strongly representative of those constructed during the Second World War, and whose continued use during the Cold War illustrates the physical manifestation of the global division between capitalism and communism that shaped the history of the late C20.
Gloucester Lodge battery is believed to have been established in early 1941, probably on a site used by an earlier mobile battery. Once the likelihood of invasion by sea or air had passed by the end of 1940, aerial bombardment posed the greatest threat to the United Kingdom during the Second World War. To combat this threat, major installations and ports were provided with heavy anti-aircraft (HAA) gun sites and almost 1000 were constructed nationally. The standard weapons deployed at these sites were 4.5 and 3.7-inch calibre heavy anti-aircraft guns, manned by almost 275,000 men, supplemented by women soldiers from the Auxiliary Territorial Service from 1941 onwards. As well as gun emplacements, which were usually in groups of either two, four or eight, heavy anti-aircraft gun sites had other related structures such as a command post, sometimes radar platforms, magazines for storing reserve ammunition, gun stores and power generation huts. There were also domestic buildings with huts, ablution blocks, offices and stores. Sites were also provided with structures for their close defence, with pillboxes and trench works being common. Due to their inflexibility, the majority of Second World War HAA sites were abandoned during the course of the war, with a few retained as part of the Nucleus Force and adapted for Cold War use as Battery Headquarters (an armed, fully operational gun site).
Aerial photographs of Gloucester Lodge taken between June 1941 and 1958 allow the phasing and our understanding of the site to be established. The earliest identified installation was a mobile battery (out of use in June 1941) thought to have formed part of the strategic wartime defences centred around the Tyne, and also to protect Blyth Harbour; this battery was accompanied by a Lewis light anti-aircraft machine-gun post, some domestic accommodation and a series of shelter trenches. By June 1941, this early battery had been superseded by a heavy anti-aircraft gun site equipped with four 3.7-inch calibre guns set in earthwork and sandbag emplacements and focused on a central command post. However, a replacement for this battery was already under construction, and by August 1941, there was a new battery comprising four octagonal gun emplacements of `the 1938 pattern' and a command post, in addition to a second Lewis gun post; the domestic camp had grown further to include a `spider' plan accommodation hut complex. The installation of a Gun Laying (GL) Mark II radar at Gloucester Lodge in 1942 is recorded in contemporary documents and visible on aerial photographs. The battery underwent wartime adaptation (probably in 1943) when two square emplacements housing semi-automatic 3.7 inch Mk.IIC guns were added giving an increased rate of fire; a 40mm Bofors gun emplacement was also added to offer the site close protection and magazines were constructed. The battery remained in use throughout the Second World War and formed a key part of the defence of Newcastle and Tyneside.
After the Second World War, Gloucester Lodge was selected for retention as a Battery Headquarters; it ceased to be a permanent site and was returned to the Territorial Army. Between 1946 and 1953, four of the existing gun emplacements were dismantled to make way for a Cold War gun site and new emplacements were constructed; the latter retained the earlier holdfasts (securing bolts), but in order to incorporate the mounting for newly developed automatic firing guns to serve its Cold War purpose, the surrounding lockers were re-built. The design of the gun emplacements suggest they were intended to mount 3.7'' MK VI No. V guns. Also at this time, the earlier domestic accommodation was reduced in size and the 40mm Bofors gun emplacement was abandoned and new features constructed included a new command post, paired mobile radar positions, tractor sheds and a generator house. In 1956, the battery was out of use but still in military ownership.
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: occupying a level pasture field retaining extensive rig and furrow cultivation, Gloucester Lodge Battery includes the buried, earthwork, and standing remains of a multi-phase Second World War heavy anti-aircraft gun battery and radar site, and a Cold War heavy anti-aircraft gun site and radar site.
COMMAND POSTS: The operational core of the site was the command post. The Second World War command post is shown on modern Ordnance Survey maps approximately 140m from the main road. It is visible as a rectangular, single storey, semi-sunken structure with a flat reinforced concrete roof. Entered through original double metal doors, it contains multiple rooms including a plotting, telephone and rest rooms, and although it does not retain original fittings, the internal layout of the building is largely intact. Externally, there are brick-built raised platforms, which retain the fittings for instruments such as a spotter's telescope, range finder and predictor. The command post has a boiler room to the rear (for central heating as supplied to those command posts operated by female Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) personnel). The Cold War command post is also shown on modern Ordnance Survey maps and is situated 50m west of the earlier control room. This is a single-storey, rectangular reinforced concrete structure with a flat roof measuring about 12m by 8m; to the rear there is a small rectangular double chambered outshut. A low solid platform immediately to the east is of uncertain function. The south side contains an entrance fitted with an iron blast door, flanked by metal grilles and there is a single window opening in the east side. The north side has double doors with a metal grille to one side. Cable ducting emerges from the east and west sides of the structure and runs into the ground.
GUN EMPLACEMENTS: forming an arc around the Second World War command post are six gun emplacements, which are also depicted on modern Ordnance Survey maps. The central four emplacements form a shallow arc and are visible as curvilinear earthworks with concrete retaining walls forming a gun pit about 10m across containing circular holdfasts or mounting bolts set into the ground, enclosed by a secondary ring of holdfast bolts grouped together in threes. Concrete rectangular ammunition lockers are situated against the wall of the gun pit. These emplacements are a Cold War rebuilding of the earlier Second World War gun emplacements; retaining the earlier holdfasts but they have rebuilt ammunition lockers and an equipment locker on the outer face, permitting the use of the then newly developed fully automatic 3.7-inch Mk.VI No.5 gun mountings. At least one locker retains its original iron doors, several others retain door fixings and some retain truncated wooden roller supports. At either end of this arc of four Cold War emplacements there is a square emplacement; each of these conform to a standard Second World War design (DFW55483) intended for a power operated 3.7-inch (static) MK11C gun, documented to have been installed at the site in late 1943. Each emplacement comprises a perimeter blast wall incorporating four ammunition recesses with paired and roofed lockers lining one or both sides and a central metal rectangular holdfast.
STANDBY POWER HOUSE AND GUN STORE: this is situated immediately to the south of the gun emplacements; it is visible as a flat-roofed rectangular concrete building with an entrance in its south side and with multiple rectangular ventilators set high in the walls. It is also depicted on modern Ordnance Survey maps.
RADAR SITE: to the rear of the Cold War control room is the radar site also depicted on modern Ordnance Survey maps; at the centre there is a Second World War period GL Mk.II radar receiver plinth comprising a low brick-built square platform about 4m across, with a concrete surface, upon which a mobile radar caravan was tethered down. The plinth is accessed by a pair of narrow concrete ramps at the south side c. 10m in length. To the south and north of this radar plinth, there are a pair of identical concrete Cold War period structures; the unroofed more easterly of each pair is interpreted as a radar position, and the adjacent buildings are thought to be tractor sheds to house the vehicles that pulled the mobile radar caravan into position. To the north of the northern pair, there are the rectangular foundations of a generator room with an engine bed retaining original fixings.
DOMESTIC CAMP: close to the road to the east of the gun emplacements there are the remains of the domestic camp; this is visible as the concrete footings of at least twelve Nissen and/or timber huts set in two parallel rows with a single example set at right angles towards the northern end.
OTHER FEATURES: To the north east of the main complex there are the remains of a 40mm Bofors gun emplacement intended to provide the battery with light anti-aircraft defence; this is visible as a pair of opposing concrete uprights, one with an attached section of walling. A number of circular sunken earthworks immediately west of the domestic camp are thought to be a wartime troop searchlight battery. Within the area of assessment there are several other slight earthwork features thought to relate to the earlier phases of the Second World War battery. A series of shelter trenches visible on contemporary aerial photographs and a Lewis light anti-aircraft machine gun weapons pit lying at the south east side of the field, survive as infilled buried features, and modern aerial photographs show the numerous infilled post holes of the timber posts that supported the octagonal-plan false radar datum that surrounded the GL Mk.II radar receiver plinth.
EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: the scheduled area includes the full extent of the Second World War and Cold War HAA batteries, including their buried and earthwork remains. There are two separate areas of protection: the first and largest is defined on the east, south and west sides by the inner foot of the field boundaries. Beyond the area to the west (south west corner) further remains of the earliest mobile battery are shown on contemporary aerial photographs, but this area is not included in the scheduling as the remains, ephemeral by nature, lie in an area of disturbed ground. On the north side the line is drawn along the edge of the surviving ridge and furrow; beyond this to the north the ground has suffered clear disturbance. The second area of scheduling includes the remains of the 40mm Bofors gun emplacement. (9)
The site of the battery is well-preserved and substantially complete. There are 33 separate buildings and structures of mainly concrete, though the semi-sunken command post is brick with a flat concrete slab roof. There are some internal features which survive, though one set of doors has been re-used in a building at Seaton Red House Farm. The accommodation buildings for the battery have been demolished. (10)
ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY. SRF
Recorder - A. Rudd. (11a)
A Second World War heavy anti-aircraft battery, at NZ 3204 7850 , a radar station at NZ 3196 7848, search light battery at NZ 3217 7848, a military camp at NZ 3218 7852, a pillbox at NZ 3189 7857, a barbed wire obstruction, a trench, weapons pit and trackway are visible as structures and earthworks on air photographs. Additional twentieth century military buildings are also present. Some of the features survive on the latest 1988-1993 Ordnance Survey vertical photography. (11b-c)(3)
Second World War (1939 to 1945)
Cold War (1946 to 1991)
MEASURED SURVEY, The Defence of Britain Project 2002
DESK BASED ASSESSMENT, Blyth Links Archaeological Assessment 2003; TYNE AND WEAR MUSEUMS
DESK BASED ASSESSMENT, Seaton Delaval Hall 2011; Archaeological Services Durham University
WALKOVER SURVEY, Seaton Delaval Hall 2011; Archaeological Services Durham University
AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION, English Heritage: North East Coast NMP Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey ; Archaeological Research Services
Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.