MSO8096 - Target railway C on Bossington Hill (Monument)
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Type and Period (1)
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 by 20 by 2.5 metres high. This protected the railway, which ran behind the bank, carrying a target which was fired at from a circuit 400 metres to the south. At the western end of the bank is a substantial mound, centred at SS 9095 4820. It measures 40 by 30 by 3.5 metres 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, 2 metres 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 by 25 by 5 metres 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.  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). [2-4] 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.  A long (approximately 215 metre) bank with a depression behind. At the northwest 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 southwest with low banks on the northwest and southeast sides. At the rear (northeast) 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 northeast 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 two inch 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 one inch thick. The bank is not straight and becomes less so and lower at the southeast end. The gully behind appears to be straight. At the southeast end is a large mound with a concrete wall to the rear (northeast) with a possible filled in entrance to the northwest of it. The wall has a steel door which has been sealed by a lump of concrete.  Concrete structures are visible at both ends on 1946 aerial photographs.  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.  The site was photographed by RCHME in April 1999.  A World War Two target railway, with a sketch location plan and photograph. Used for bombing practice of railways by the military. Located at Selworthy.  This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11,12]
- <1> SMO7322 Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation1998,.
- <2> SEM6707 Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF/106G/UK/1655 3016-3017 (11 July 1946).
- <3> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/79013 160-161 (17 April 1979).
- <4>XY SMO7542 Archive: Dickson, A.. 2007. Severn Estuary Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment: SS 94 NW. MD000133. [Mapped feature: #38328 ]
- <5> SEM8675 Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Chris Webster, SMR Officer, September 1997.
- <6> SEM8675 Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Chris Webster, SMR Officer, July 1998.
- <7> SSO364 Aerial photograph: July 1946. RAF 106G\UK\1655 4005 to 4013.
- <8> SEM8675 Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Adrian James, Email, 14 June 2006.
- <9> SEM341106 Photograph: Hesketh-Roberth, M.. 1999. Job: World War Ii Tank Target Area. Colour. Negative.
- <10> SMO7538 Digital archive: Council for British Archaeology. 2002. Defence of Britain. DEB01.
- <11> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1132242, Extant 12 May 2022.
- <12> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1411357, Updated 12 May 2022.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 9107 4813 (275m by 170m)|
|Civil Parish||SELWORTHY, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET|
Related Monuments/Buildings (7)
- Parent of: Possible World War Two observation post on Bossington Hill (Monument) (MSO12586)
- Parent of: World War Two bomb craters on Bossington Hill (Monument) (MMO1495)
- Parent of: World War Two observation post on Bossington Hill (Monument) (MSO8097)
- Parent of: World War Two observation post on Bossington Hill (Monument) (MSO8099)
- Parent of: World War Two observation post on Bossington Hill (Monument) (MSO9601)
- Part of: World War Two tank training range at Bossington and North Hill and Selworthy Beacon (Monument) (MMO627)
- Related to: Tank training circuit C on Bossington Hill (Monument) (MSO8108)
Related Events/Activities (4)
Related Articles (1)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1132242 (Pastscape entry: 1132242)
- 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 Monuments Record reference: SS 94 NW1878
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- NBR Index Number: 99/01237
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1132242
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1411357
- Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 35513
Record last edited
May 12 2022 1:04PM
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