AA Battery Houston
A World War II anti-aircraft battery was sited to the north of Bridge of Weir, west of Glasgow. Site number GSG8 (early), S8 (later). Part of the Clyde AA Defences, the site was known as Houston or East Yonderton.
The Houston battery is significant in that it is one of a small number of former World War II heavy anti-aircraft batteries that were converted for use during the Cold War.
World War II
The battery was equipped with four gun emplacements, command post, and a small accommodation camp.
Following a site visit in 2008, further investigation of the remains revealed that this was a formerly undocumented postwar AA battery conversion.
Aerial photographs of the site taken in 1945 are reported to show that work had already commenced on modifications, with new concrete evident, while later photographs taken in 1947 show the completed works. Aerial photographs from 1963, together with current mapping, confirmed the completion of the modifications.
These changes suggests that the battery had been incorporated into the Cold War anti-aircraft defences created as part of the postwar ROTOR air defence system, a massive air defence radar system created during the 1950s to counter the threat of Soviet bombers, and which controlled anti-aircraft batteries operated by Fighter Command and the British Army.
Site visit 2007
A site visit found that the four emplacements, command post, engine room, and computer room were extant, but the only evidence for the accommodation camp was a few concrete bases which marked the position of the buildings. The original concrete fence posts still surrounded the site, together with a smaller compound to the north west. The smaller compound had two large concrete bases which may have been magazines, which were not found on the main site.
The command post is brick built with a concrete roof, and is partly flooded. A large door has been fitted to the rear of the building, similar to that found at the Drumbowie battery, also a postwar conversion.
Each emplacement is constructed of reinforced concrete, and contains the following:
- Four ready use ammunition stores with wooden storage racks, many of which still remain in place.
- An engine room attached to the store to the right of the entrance. A ceramic pipe leads through the partition wall, possibly for cabling.
Cable ducts/trenches leading to the holdfasts, and which may have carried electrical and/or hydraulic connections to the guns. The exterior wall has two further holes of approximately 6-inches diameter, which are assumed to have accommodated the engine air intake and exhaust.
- A small storage room fitted with a heavy steel door is attached to the left of the entrance.
The rooms listed above would have been later additions, part of the postwar conversion.
A small shelter to the southeast of the site was found to be a basic electrical substation, with a section of heavy cable and the remains of two isolators lying on the floor.
Located in the woods to the northeast, outside the original perimeter fence and accessed through a gate dating from the original construction, are two concrete bases and two adjacent flat-roofed concrete buildings. One building is relatively large and tall, with a number of ventilators fitted at roof level, and assumed to have been an engine room. The second building is smaller and built of concrete blocks, and may have been a fuel store. Another building was noted in the woods, and may also have been related to the battery, but has been converted into a private residence, and was not investigated further.
No mention of a GL radar installation is made in the records, and was no evidence of such an installation was seen on the site.
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