Inchterf MoD P&EE
MoD P&EE Inchterf, was a former Proof & Experimental Establishment located off the A803 near Kirkintilloch, which was operational from the 1930s until its closure during the mid-1990s.
The facility did exactly what its name implied, and carried out proof testing of guns and propellant charges. The equipment was able to measure the tremendous pressures generated as the propellant burnt in the barrel, and show how this varied with time. In simple terms, burning too fast means excess pressure is generated early in the shot, while the shell is still low in the barrel, leading to unnecessarily high internal pressure, and an increased risk of the barrel exploding. Burning too slow means the propellant is still burning when the shell leaves the barrel, leading to waste and underpowered shots.
Originally built during the 1930s by William Beardmore & Company, and used to test guns manufactured from its Parkhead munitions factory, the establishment was taken over by the Royal Navy in 1940, and later shared with the Army. The establishment came to be known locally as The Gun Range, and was able test guns ranging from rifles up to 7.2-inch Howitzers, and had two 150 metre long batteries, each with eight firing positions and six reinforced concrete, sand-filled stop butts, and one smaller 75 metre battery.
Firing was controlled from a long blast proof building, while a long corridor linked the various firing positions with z-shaped blast walls. At its peak, the facility employed more than 150 military and civilian staff, with a branch off the main railway line, the Kelvin Valley Railway, to the south and west bringing in equipment and ordnance to be tested. When the facility was in operation, the vibrations from the explosions were regularly felt in properties over four miles away. Homes on the Moodiesburn estate would shake during test periods.
Having had the opportunity to visit this facility prior to its closure, it was interesting to note that its buildings were largely original, and of light, thin walled construction, designed to cause minimal damage by disintegrating if there was an explosive accident within them, and with metal used only where necessary, to avoid spark hazards. Not the place to be working in winter, as any form of heater would have been banned.
Since the experimental establishment closed in the mid-1990s, the site had been redeveloped commercially and now known asthe Portcullis Estate. This industrial estate is home to to a number of business, including and an eco-recycling centre, a plant hire operator, and a site service company involved in activities such as sheet piling, coffer dams and retaining walls.
Giving the impression that the site remains in use, at least four remaining warning signs bordering the former firing range area have been reported.
Loss of the testing and disposal facilities at Inchterf had the side-effect of causing an increase in the work being carried out at the Shoeburyness range operated by DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency), resulting in questions being raised in parliament relating to the increase in noise and vibration at that facility in 1995.
A further question in 1996 regarding development of the site as a private shooting range or explosives testing area received an answer to the effect that these uses were not being proposed or considered.
Kirkintilloch ROC post
Lying nearby, and referred to as part of the site by writers unaware of its true purpose, but completely unrelated to Inchterf, lies the derelict Kirkintilloch ROC post, which would have been manned by members of the Royal Observer Corps had the Cold War ever turned hot, and atomic or nuclear weapons been used.
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