During both World War I and World War II, the northern area of the Firth of Clyde was protected by an anti-submarine boom which spanned the area between Cloch Point and Dunoon.
Visible in a World War II photograph of the Cloch Lighthouse, the boom can clearly be seen to originate from a location on the shore beneath the lighthouse and its buildings. The World War I boom is believed to have used the same location for its eastern fixing.
Based on local reports originating during World War II, the Dunoon end of the boom is believed to have been located on the shore area below the Rock Café, however there are currently no photographs of the installation to confirm this.
During World War I, the Dunoon end of the boom appears to have been located further to the south, past the pier, a location confirmed by a small picture which we received.
Vessels approaching the boom from the south would have been expected to halt before they reached it, and wait in an area defined as an Inspection Anchorage to the south of Toward Point, pending clearance to proceed. This requirement was not necessarily always obeyed, especially if the Captain was keen to make port, and observers would then call on the Toward Battery to fire a warning shot across the offender's bow, and alert them to their error.
The presence of the boom also affected the firth's steamer services, since direct routes from the upper to the lower firth were no longer possible. Services were reorganised, with one fleet of ships carrying traffic north of the boom and another to the south, with new timetables being put into effect. Mail for Kintyre and Bute which was formerly carried by steamer from Gourock was also disrupted, and had to be transhipped at Wemyss Bay.
During World War I and World War II, Cloch Point was also home to a number of related installations which formed a Coastal Battery, mostly lost beneath a caravan park which was developed on the site, further described on the Cloch Point Battery page.
A site visit carried out during 2007 revealed variations from the RCAHMS reports, together with additional information.
On the shore below the lighthouse is a large concrete block with a heavy steel girder set into it at an angle of about 15°, suggesting it was designed to take a horizontal load - this is assumed to be the shore anchor for one of the booms. The remains of a second block lie some 20 metres south of the first, and are now badly decomposed, and may be the end of the outer boom net. These locations are generally consistent with the position of the boom as it appears in period photographs, but there is no indication of whether they relate to either the World War I or World War II installations, or if the same fixings were used for both. The obvious assumption may probably be correct, and the old rusty anchor dates to World War I, while the less corroded anchor dates to World War II.
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