MDE12599 - World War Two military building on Hoccombe Hill (Monument)

Summary

The remains of a reinforced concrete and brick structure survives as lumps of concrete and protruding reinforcing bars, with some sections of concrete flooring. It dates from the Second World War.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Centred at SS 7723 4415 are the vestiges of a demolished building, associated with the World War Two Exmoor Firing Ranges [1] on Hoccombe Hill. The remains of the reinforced concrete and brick structure are characterised by random lumps of concrete and reinforcing bars projecting from the ground. There are sections of concrete flooring, some of which appears to be in situ. Although the dimensions of the structure are not known, the remains are concentrated within an area measuring 10 metres by 18 metres. To the north are the remains of drainage channels and man-hole pits, presumably associated with drainage or sanitation arrangements. Other areas of concrete and brick may represent other buildings. A striking feature of the site are lines of reinforced concrete posts. They radiate out from the building and are oriented on bearings at 45 degree intervals, although some of the posts appear to be missing. Related to magnetic north, they are 20, 65, 155, 200, 245 and 335 degrees. Substantially constructed, of reinforced, shuttered concrete, they stand 1.4 metres high and 0.15 metres square. The function of the structure and posts is uncertain. It may be an Observation building but is more likely to be associated with some other use of this area by the military. Large scale survey and further documentary research is required to fully elucidate the purpose of this site. [2] Centred at SS 77274403 are the vestiges of a demolished building and associated concrete posts, associated with the WW2 Exmoor Firing Ranges (MSO7776). The site has now been surveyed by The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England at 1:1000 scale. The building is visible on an aerial photograph taken by the RAF in 1946 as a rectangular structure with projecting walls on the west and east. It has been thoroughly demolished by explosives but spread of concrete, brick, reinforcing bars and patches of insitu concrete flooring mark its position. Substantial concrete posts radiate out from the building defining two arcs on its north and south sides, with a central line of posts through the centre, forming in effect three lines that intersect on a point within the building. The function of the building is not currently known. It is presently considered most likely to have been some sort of test facility, and is either associated with conventional warfare, artillery or chemical weapons testing. Whatever the case, the remains form an exceptional monument, probably unique on Exmoor. [3-6] The building described above is clearly visible on aerial photographs taken in 1946. The map reference quoted by authority [1] is incorrect, and the building is located as SS 7727 4403. In May 1946, the building is standing and appears as a substantial complex, with several projections, measuring approximately 16 metres long and 7 metres wide. It seems to be aligned north east. There are no traces of vehicle tracks around the building; however, numerous impact craters can be seen in the immediate vicinty, apparently following an east to west line of fire. On the photographs taken in July 1946, the building has been almost completely destoyed, and the form and size can no longer be discerned. This would indicate that the building may have been destroyed deliberately sometime around June 1946, possibly by using explosives. [7-9] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Jack Edwards, former Sergeant involved in administration of the ranges (12 Oakleigh, Tiverton).
  • <2> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 26 April 1994.
  • <3> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Fletcher, M.. 1995. Brendon, WWII structure and concrete posts at SS 74 SE 109/interpretation plan . 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <4> Technical drawing: Fletcher, M. and Wilson-North, R.. 1995. Brendon, WWII structure and concrete posts at SS 74 SE 109/ink survey . 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <5> Report: Wilson-North, R. and Fletcher, M.. 1995. Brendon, WWII structure and concrete posts at SS 74 SE 109 . RCHME Swindon. General: Paper. Typescript.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1 November 1995.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1501 4219-20 (13 May 1946).
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 4074-75 (11 July 1946).
  • <9> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183.
  • <10> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1036078, Extant 16 June 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7726 4404 (25m by 17m)
Map sheet SS74SE
Civil Parish BRENDON, NORTH DEVON, DEVON

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 55109
  • Devon SMR: SS74SE/56
  • Environmentally Sensitive Area
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21614
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO477
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE109
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1036078

Record last edited

Jun 16 2021 1:13PM

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