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AA Battery Mugdock

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View over site, toward Glasgow, 2007, maden
View over site, toward Glasgow

A World War II anti-aircraft battery was sited to the north of Milngavie, east of Mugdock Wood. Site number N9. Part of the , the site was also known as Mugdock Wood or Mugdock Castle.

Built in 1942, almost a year after the Clydebank Blitz, the battery was equipped with four emplacements, a command post, and an accommodation camp to the south, this was one of many such batteries built around the Clyde Basin to protect towns and factories around Glasgow. Records indicate that the battery was designed to take four 3.7-inch or 4.5-inch guns, but was never armed, completed, or occupied, and that the GL Radar installation was commenced, but not completed.

The nearby Mugdock Wood camp contained a number of concrete bases which would have supported Nissen huts and other larger wooden huts to accommodate the Army units whose job it would have been to man the guns. The battery would have been made up of men and women, with the men handling the guns and ammunition, while the women operated the predictor, height finder and radar. The huts would have contained showers, baths and sleeping accommodation for up to 70 people, and have been supplied from a large storage tank nearby, which would have held water pumped from Mugdock Loch. Like the battery, the camp was never completed or occupied, and RAF aerial photographs from 1946 show only one building standing on the site.

Much of the battery survives, together with concrete bases for the camp buildings, further described on the Mugdock Wood Camp page.

Site visit

A site visit was carried out during 2010. The first building encountered when approaching from the visitor centre in the north of the park has been previously described as a concrete water tank on the summit of the hill. However, the exterior of the structure is constructed of brick and has brick pier reinforcement at regular intervals. The top surface is poured concrete, and the eastern end has what appears to be a viewing platform. To the south of the tank is evidence of a concrete duct, which may have served to carry water to the battery and accommodation camp, both of which lie further down the southern side of the hill.

Adjacent to the car park gate to the west, also known as the Kyber car park after the nearby Kyber Cottage, is evidence of a small hut base.

The field between the car park and the battery contains a low lying rectangular building with only one doorway, no windows, and a headroom of less than 5 feet. The exterior is constructed of brown brick, while the interior walls are of red brick, and the roof is of cast concrete. The building has a concrete floor, and the interior is divided into three rooms by substantial brick walls. One room has a ceramic pipe through the exterior wall, possibly a cable duct, which slopes slightly upwards towards the exterior. Set into the top course of bricks on all four exterior was are steel eyes, all of which lie slightly off of the horizontal. The purpose of this building is unclear, although it has been suggested that it was intended to used it to house some form of radar.

The battery lies a short distance to the east and consists of a with four gun emplacements. As with the low building described above, the emplacements have a brown brick exterior, with internal wall of red brick. Although all the external surfaces are heavily weathered, there is evidence of repairs to the concrete surrounding all of the holdfasts, which is consistent with the reports of the site having been refurbished by the park, and all but one of the buildings is neat and clean. Each building has a small information plaque attached, which gives a reasonable description of its subject, although it may be the case that the accuracy of one or two of the accounts given is questionable.

The command post is unusual for its type in that it has a large doorway fitted to the rear of the main room, in the west wall, accessed by tightly curved path around the northern end of the building, which leads from the access road to the post and the emplacements. The main room differs further from standard in that it has a low wall running along its length, notably too small for a person to pass behind with ease. However, this is of shoddy construction compared to the rest of the battery, and the presence of what appear to be two small dams behind the wall, together with evidence of a gate at one end, suggests that this is probably a later addition by the farmer, and was a makeshift shallow sheep dip for footrot, or may date back to the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001. If so, it may also explain the presence of the doorway and path.

The remainder of the command post is fairly standard, with one door frame surviving, a couple of short lengths of batten, and some wooden frames round the numerous ventilators, all of which are occluded to prevent light escaping and are barely noticeable externally. The usual cable ducts can be seen running across the floors of main room and instrument pit.

Four ceramic pipes visible in the larger shelter would have carried signals to the guns in each of the emplacements. These are now half covered in what appears to be the result of cosmetic repairs. Three further pipes are assumed to have been for electrical power, communications/telephones, and signal from the radar equipment.

The gun emplacements are arranged in an arc in front of the command post, and as per our standard practice are numbered 1 to 4, from left to right, as seen from the command post, with number 1 being the first to the left.

Emplacement 1 is intact and comprises seven ammunition shelters and two magazines. As before, these are faced externally with brown bricks, and internally with red. Six of the shelters have their openings face along the surrounding wall, while the seventh faces inwards, towards the holdfast, suggesting it was used to store spent cartridge cases. All the shelters are in good condition, other than the usual heavy weathering of the brown brick. One of the two magazines shows signs of flooding.

Emplacements 2 and 4 are in a similar condition to that of emplacement 1.

Emplacement 3 is generally in a similar condition to that of emplacement 1, other than the fourth shelter which has collapsed, or been demolished. This collapse has revealed some construction detail of the roof, which appears to comprise pre-cast reinforced concrete beams, with an additional layer of concrete poured on top, followed by a thick bituminous waterproofing coat. Magazine 2 was found to have a hatch in the floor, which provides access to a brick chamber by way of steel rungs fixed into the wall. Unfortunately, this chamber is was almost completely filled with rubbish, making it impossible to determine its depth, or see any evidence of its purpose. The modern information plaque fixed to the entrance to the emplacement suggests this was an air raid shelter, but we would dispute this as it seems unlikely that such a facility would be constructed in such a relatively inaccessible location such as this, and under a magazine containing shells loaded with high explosive. The chamber is more likely to have been related to a drainage or sewage system which served the site, or may simply have been a store. All the remaining magazines were found to have solid concrete floors, all of which appeared to be original.

Photographs

Emplacement and ready use ammo store, 2007, maden
Emplacement and
ready use ammo stores
Emplacement detail and access doorway, 2007, maden
Emplacement detail
and access doorway
Stairs down to part buried Command Post, 2007, maden
Stairs down to
command post
Unusual low wall within command post, 2007, maden
Unusual low wall
within command post


External links

Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-

 

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Aerial views


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