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Overton Rifle Ranges

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Overton Rifle Ranges lay to the north of The Cut, an aqueduct constructed to the south of Greenock. The range may have been known as Yellow Hill, as this was the name of the area where the main target was located, and where some remains still lie.

There were two ranges on the site: a shorter one to the north, on lower ground, and a longer one to the south, where the targets were located some way up the hill. The ranges first appear on the 1897 1:2,500 map, as does a building and a flagstaff on the upper southern area of the site.

The northern range started out with firing steps at 200, 350, and 450 yards, but by the time the 1914 1:2,500 map was published, these steps had been reduced to 100, 150, and 200 yards, and so it remained visible until this area of the range disappeared from the map in 1958. The target area remained evident on later maps, appearing as a linear feature.

There is no surviving evidence of any of the firing steps, as the area was developed immediately after the end of World War II, when the area was initially used for prefabs, then redeveloped during the late 1950s and early 1960s for council houses. These developments also erased any evidence of the the magazine, which lay to the north by the railway line.

The southern range began with firing steps at 150, 400, 500, and 700 yards, later extended to 800 yards some time prior to World War I, when it was shortened to 600 yards. These steps remained until they also disappeared from the map in 1958. Although housing developments have destroyed any evidence of the firing steps, the brick retaining wall and earth revetment remain extant. These are believed to date from World War II, or even World War I, as the range is understood to have been in use during World War II. Nothing has grown on the earth revetments for at least fifty years, probably due to lead contamination of the ground.

A magazine was associated with this range, located to the south and above the target area, but no remains have been identified. A building was evident on the 1897 map, but was no longer present on the 1914 map.

Site visit

A site visit was carried out in March 2012 which confirmed the survival of the revetted brick wall of the target area of the longer southern range. Large areas above and below the targets remain without plant cover, probably due to lead contamination of the soil. Two pieces of steelwork remain attached to the top of the wall. At the southern end the height of the wall rises by some 18 inches which may indicate the presence of a shelter for the target operatives.

The target area for the shorter northern range remains evident as a low grassy bank.

No other remains were identified in the area.

One notable feature of this range is the gradient of the land it was built on.

Photographs

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Aerial views


Map

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