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Coastal Battery Cloch Point

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Cloch Point, 2008
Cloch Point
© Peter Langsdale

The Coastal Battery at Cloch Point formed part of the Clyde Defences during both World War I and World War II, and was located on the land around the Cloch Lighthouse, along the shore side of the A770 Cloch Road, and on the nearby hillside which overlooked the road.

There were at least three significant features on the site:

  • the coastal gun battery on the hillside
  • a searchlight battery with three platforms and a large hut on the shore
  • an observation post, and other buildings, on the hillside to the south of the gun battery

The battery also overlooked the Cloch Boom, which controlled access to the upper part of the Firth of Clyde above the Tail of the Bank, and was anchored just below the Cloch Lighthouse.

The hillside buildings at the observation post have been described as the headquarters of the Clyde Coast Artillery Regiment.[1]

World War I

The coastal gun battery was established during World War I, and records indicate that it was armed with two 6-inch guns, numbers 2406 and 2384, which had originally been installed at the Portkil Battery, and were moved to Cloch Point in 1916.

1931 Gun move

We are grateful to Mike Reeve, who provided us with photographs of the guns taken during a move from the Portkil battery to Cloch Point in 1931. The move was carried out by his grandfather, Captain Richard Shrive, who was also responsible for the movement and refurbishment of many UK heavy gun batteries at various places between the wars, including Gibraltar in the 1930s. He is mentioned in respect of Inchkeith and is also known to have been at Broughty Ferry Castle in 1934 when that was decommissioned. He served in World War I, in France and Belgium, with the RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery), and from 1915 with the 91st Siege Battery RGA, and ended up as a Major. The knowledge and skills he developed during this time made him something of an expert in his field.

(During World War II, Inchkeith is described as having one major full-time battery in 1941, armed with two 6-inch guns covering the north side of the island, two 6-inch guns covering the south, and the water between the island and Leith, two more 6-inch guns in the West Fort, and two 9.2-inch guns defending the Rosyth dockyards. With the change from defence to offence in 1943, this battery was then placed on care and maintenance.)[2]

Although museum records indicate a gun move took place in 1916, this need not conflict with the 1931 move reported here, as it is understood that such movements were not an unusual occurrence, and could easily have taken place on more than one occasion.

1931 photograph Handwritten notes on rear of photograph
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
F/2 Cloch
Point Battery
Gourock N.B.
Nov 1931
--------
Shield on Apron
--------
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
F2 Cloch
Point Battery
Gourock Clyde
Nov 1931
--------
MKIV Shield
mounted from
Rear
--------
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
Cloch (Clyde)
----
F/1 Shield
on far floor
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
, 1931
© Mike Reeve
Cloch
--------
Shield on temporary
Sleigh at foot of light
railway
(F1 Shield)
Note
----
F2 Shield was moved
up the hill with front of
Shield leading.

Archived gun records

The following additional information regarding gun movements at Cloch Point was also provided, sourced from the National Archive:

1931 and 1935 mounting, dismounting and shifting of guns.

Ref:-Item MS 879/65

Caption Copy of Gun Record Book for Cloch Point Battery description of topography, armament, equipment and ammunition capacity with a short history of the battery from 1915-1944. There are reports on the mounting, dismounting and shifting of guns and shields for example in 1931 and 1935. Included are 11 pages of aerial photographs taken in 1941 and 1942 and 3 pages of copies of OS maps of the area. Plans and diagrams showing land areas covered and arcs of fire and plans, sections and elevations of the magazine, emplacements and shelters are also included.

Notes Temporarily held in room 2.15 Photocopies of a total of 64 pages of which 11 are of aerial photographs taken in 1942.

External Reference PRO 192.106

Category MANUSCRIPTS RCAHMS, John Sinclair House, 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh EH8 9NX

Telephone: +44 (0)131 662 1456

Email: [email protected]
© The National Archive (Public Record Office)

World War II

The guns are reported to have remained in place on care and maintenance from November 1944 to December 1956, when they were removed, and probably disposed of as scrap. This suggests that the active battery defending the approach to the Firth of Clyde was the Toward Coastal Battery, across the water, and further south on the tip of the Cowal peninsula.

Cloch Point Searchlight Battery

The Cloch Point Searchlight Battery was a World War II defence which was installed on the shore area to either side of the Cloch Lighthouse on Cloch Point. The battery had one hut and one platform to the north east, two platforms to the south of the lighthouse. To help with identification, the platforms have been arbitrarily numbered 1, 2, and 3, to allow them to be differentiated within the aerial map view.

Searchlight platforms

Viewed from shore, 2007, Fox
Viewed from shore
Converted platform 1, viewpoint, 2007, Fox
Converted platform 1 - viewpoint

The remains of searchlight platform 1 lie to the northeast of the lighthouse. The platform has been reduced in height to about 1 metre, and capped with rough stones to create a viewing platform for visitors. The walls contain several small holes, which may have been for dooks - wooden plugs which allowed fixings to be made into stone or brick walls.

Viewed from shore, 2007
Viewed from shore
Converted platform 2, garage, 2007
Converted platform 2 - garage

Platforms 2 and 3 lie to the southwest of the lighthouse, and remain substantially complete, having been reused after the war.

Platform 2 has been converted into a garage, opening onto the A770 Cloch Road. The road can be very busy at times, and having seen this garage in use, it is fair to say that it has to be used with care, as there does not seem to be a great deal of clearance, or space to spare within.

Viewed from shore, 2007, Fox
Viewed from shore
Platform 3 bricked up, 2007, Fox
Platform 3 - bricked up

Platform 3 has survived in remarkably original condition, although it has been bricked up (presumably to protect it from unwanted access). The upper room is reported to have been used for storage, while the lower section, which opens on to the shore, has been used as a shelter for cyclists. The design is similar to that of another platform located on the shore at Portkil, also described as a World War II searchlight platform, and which appears to have been converted to form part of private dwelling.

Standby hut

Concrete base, 2007, Fox
Concrete base
, Picnic area, 2007, Fox
Picnic area

The hut is not precisely reported, however the general size of the surviving concrete base and provision of facilities evident from the remains, suggest that this would have served as stand-by room and/or accommodation for the crews which manned the three platforms nearby. It may also have housed a generator, or generators, as there is no reference to an engine room in the records, and it is not known if the searchlights were powered by portable generators, or by generators located in the space below the platforms.

Hillside building and observation post

The historic record (as of 2001) also makes a brief reference to further building associated with the battery, but gives no further information, referring only to "Several other associated brick and concrete buildings".

Examination of aerial images showing the area as it was in 2007 has revealed these building in a wooded area to the south of the original gun emplacements, almost completely obscured by trees. The area would have been cleared when the buildings were constructed during the war, and the observation post would have a clear view of the approaches to the Firth of Clyde, and the inspection anchorage of the Tail of the Bank. To the rear, or east, of the observation post are a number of other buildings, which are believed to have been the headquarters of the Clyde Coast Artillery Regiment.[3]

Postwar development

Following the removal of the guns at the end of the war, the site of the gun battery was developed as a caravan park (Cloch Caravans, Gourock), with the gun emplacements being filled in, and used as caravan bases, leaving no trace.

Site visit

A site visit carried out during 2007 revealed some variations from the earlier RCAHMS reports, together with some additional information.

On the shore side of the A770 road lie the remains of a concrete base for a hut, and three concrete searchlight platforms. Beginning with the hut base to the north, and east of the lighthouse, is a large concrete base, approximately 7 m x 10 m. The remains suggest a brick built structure with a concrete floor, and brick partitions within. The partitions suggest the building comprised a small entrance porch with two large rooms on either side, and the room to the east leading on to two smaller rooms, one of which contained a toilet cubicle. The remains of a floor screed at one end of the base show that the join between the floor and wall was curved, rather than straight, but there is nothing left to suggest any reason for this shape.

The base has been fitted with two seats for visitors, and provides a wide view of the firth.

To the west of the concrete base, the former searchlight platform (1) has been demolished and converted into a viewpoint with a surrounding wall approximately one metre high, and finished with a decorative stone topping.

Moving to the south of the lighthouse, the second platform (2) lies near the south end of a garden leading to 1930s lighthouse keeper's cottage. The space below the platform has been converted into a garage, and been painted white.

The third platform (3) lies a short distance to the south of the second, and remains in a substantially original condition, although all the opening have been bricked up, and the doors secured shut. The structure has also been painted white, matching the nearby lighthouse buildings.

Site visit

Following the discovery of the hillside buildings in the woods to the south of the former gun emplacements, a second visit was made to the site later in 2007.

Two sets of buildings were found at slightly different elevations on the hillside:

  • an upper building which had only a single room
  • a lower building containing a number of connected rooms
Upper building, 2007, Fox
Upper building
Upper building, 2007, Fox
Upper building interior

The upper building appears to have been partitioned internally, possibly to form an office, and was provided with windows which would have provided clear views over the firth. This may have been the headquarters of the Clyde Coast Artillery Regiment, as referred to above.

Lower building complex, north, 2007, Fox
Lower building complex north
Lower building complex, south, 2007, Fox
Lower building complex south

The lower building appears to consist of three connected buildings which form a complex of up to seven separate rooms within. From the shape of the windows and platforms facing the firth, and the remains found within, it is clear that this building served as a significant observation and command post overlooking the approach to the Tail of the Bank. The concrete pillars within the post would have carried various optical instruments for obtaining fixes on targets in the firth, and for gun laying.

The general layout of the lower building, and its division into rooms, is shown in the sketch below.

Plan of lower building complex, 2007, Fox
Plan of lower building complex


References

1 BBC - WW2 People's War - The Clyde Coast Artillery

2 Indicator Loop Stations and Harbour Defences, May Island, Royal Navy

3 BBC - WW2 People's War - The Clyde Coast Artillery

External links

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


Aerial views


Map

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