MSO8096 - Target railway C on Bossington Hill (Monument)

Summary

The remains of a World War II target railway on Bossington Hill, part of a tank training range. It comprises a substantial earth and stone bank, 275m by 20m and 2.5m high. Substantial mounds at each end may represent the sites of observation posts. Concrete slabs suggest an associated stores building. Summary from record MMO844: The remains of a Second World War target railway are visible as a linear terrace and bank and recorded during field investigations in 1998. The remains comprise a substantial earth and stone bank which measures 260m long by 20m wide and 2.5m high. This protected the railway, which ran behind the bank, carrying a target which was fired at from a tank track circuit recorded to the south as SS 94 NW 159. At the western end of the bank is a substantial mound. It measures 40m by 30m and 3.5m high. Several concrete slabs lie in the vicinity, and this probably represents the remains of a building which housed the targets and wagons. At the eastern end of the bank is a further substantial mound. It is constructed of local stone and earth, and measures 30m by 25 and 5m high. On the northern side are the remains of an entrance. This probably functioned as an observation post in association with the tank training range. This is just one of three target railways used for tank training during the Second World War (SS 94 NW 64). See also SS 94 NW 187.

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Type and Period (3)

Protected Status

Full Description

The remains of a target railway lie on Bossington Hill, centred at SS 9100 4817. The features were surveyed using differential GPS as part of the RCHME Exmoor project. The remains comprise a substantial earth and stone bank, 275 x 20 x 2.5m high. This protected the railway, which ran behind the bank, carrying a target which was fired at from a circuit 400m to the south. At the western end of the bank is a substantial mound, centred at SS 9095 4820. It measures 40 x 30 x 3.5m high. Several concrete slabs lie in the vicinity, and this may represent the remains of a building which housed the targets and wagons. A small cast iron turntable, 2m in diameter, lies just to the north of the mound. At the eastern end of the bank is a further substantial mound, centred at SS 9116 4809. It is constructed of local stone and earth, and measures 30 x 25 x 5m high. On the northern side is the remains of an entrance. An area of shuttered concrete holds a metal door and frame. This probably functioned as an observation post in association with the tank training range. Access to the site was provided by a track leading from Hill Road at SS 9129 4771. (1) The target railway is visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs and is as described above. This is just one of three target railways used for tank training during the Second World War (MSO7616). (2-3) One of three trackways used to move targets used for tank gunnery training. Survives as an earthwork with possible remains of a target at the North end. (5) A long (approximately 215 metre) bank with a depression behind. At the North-West end is a projecting square earthwork approximately 10 metres high above the sloping hillside. The top of the earthwork forms a sloping platform highest to the South-West with low banks on the North-West and South-East sides. At the rear (North-East) it slopes steeply into the gully at the rear of the main bank. The platform is stony with occasional pieces of reinforcing rod visible. The form of the platform where it joins the bank is less clear - either it has been disturbed or earth has been piled here for greater protection. In the North-East slope of the gully to the rear are pieces of reinforced concrete and a circular (6 foot diameter) cast iron plate. On the top is an arrangement of 2inch bars forming a # shape. There are gaps where these join which may have allowed a wooden framework to be attached. It is marked 'ROBERT HUDSON Ltd/GUILDERSOME FOUNDRY/Nr LEEDS/73261' and sits within a circular iron frame 1" thick. The bank is not straight and becomes less so and lower at the South-East end. The gully behind appears to be straight. At the South-East end is a large mound with a concrete wall to the rear (North-East) with a possible filled in entrance to the North-West of it. The wall has a steel door which has been sealed by a lump of concrete. (6) Concrete structures are visible at both ends on 1946 aerial photographs. (7) The site is a moving target rail, which was used to operate targets propelled by small rail cars known as Wickham trolleys. These carried a target, in the shape of a tank target (known as a Hornet by British AFV crews) made from dark hessian stretched over a wooden frame. It seems that at the northern end of the track there was a rail loop which allowed the trolley to return to the southern end of the track. Switches along the track controlled the braking and speed/direction of the trolley by engaging various levers and switches on the trolley chassis. The southern end of the track would have had a large dugout for the storage of targets and the target trolley/s. They were manoeuvred into the shelter with the aid of the turntable manufactured by Robert Hudson Ltd, well known manufacturers of engines and ancilliary equipment. Initially 6 Wickham trolleys were provided for Minehead, probabaly two for each of the moving target rails. The trolleys were often derailed by stones and earth flung onto the track by shells hitting the protective bank to the south of the track. The concrete shelter at the northern end of the track was used to house men who would have observed and repaired the target as necessary. They may also have operated other fixed/disappearing targets near the dugout. (8)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. Riley H 1998 RCHME Field Investigation.
  • <2> Survey: RCHME. 1998. Exmoor survey. NMR site SS 94 NW 143.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF/106G/UK/1655 3016-3017. 11/07/1946.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/79013 160-161. 17/04/1979.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Webster, CJ. Sept 1997. Comments from Somerset HER staff.
  • <6> Unassigned: Webster, Chris. July 1998. Comments from SMRO.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: July 1946. RAF 106G\UK\1655 4005 to 4013.
  • <8> Unassigned: James, Adrian. 14/6/2006. Email to SCC.
  • <9> Archive: Severn Estuary Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment: SS 94 NW. MD000133.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 9107 4813 (275m by 170m)
Map sheet SS94NW
Civil Parish SELWORTHY, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • DoB Non Anti Invasion Database UID: 72
  • DoB Non Anti Invasion Database UID: 73
  • DoB Non Anti Invasion Database UID: 74
  • DoB Non Anti Invasion Database UID: 75
  • DoB Non Anti Invasion Database UID: 92
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO844
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12325
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 NW143
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1132242
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 35513

Record last edited

Jun 6 2018 4:59PM

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