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Gourock, Hilltop Road, Larkfield Battery

Anti Aircraft Battery (20th Century)

Site Name Gourock, Hilltop Road, Larkfield Battery

Classification Anti Aircraft Battery (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Gsg10; As5; Clyde Aa Defences; Coves Battery; Larkfield Road

Canmore ID 89403

Site Number NS27NW 20

NGR NS 24659 76519

NGR Description Centred NS 24659 76519

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Inverclyde
  • Parish Inverkip
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Inverclyde
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Archaeology Notes

NS27NW 20 centred 24659 76519

For rig and furrow cultivation within and around the area of this battery, see NS27NW 148.

Second World War gun emplacement: details held in Strathclyde Sites and Monuments Record.

SRC SMR 1994.

Situated at Larkfield near Coves Reservoir, this anti-aircraft battery consists of four concrete gun emplacements and a command post with two magazine buildings. There are also two additional holdfasts. The battery is in reasonable condition considering it is exposed to vandalism.

Information from Mr J Guy, August 1996.

This World War II heavy anti-aircraft battery is situated on the W side of Coves Reservoir at the end of a track from Hilltop Road. The brick and concrete command post and four gun-emplacements with two magazines still survive. An additional two holdfast can also be seen.

Records show that this battery was armed with 4 4.5-inch guns.

J Guy 2001; NMRS MS 810/11, Part 2, 80-1; Vol.2 (appendix), 7

This four/six-emplacement battery is visible on postwar RAF vertical air photographs (106G/UK 1317, 7227-8, flown 27 March 1946) which show that the crew accommodation camp was situated to the SW on the other side of Hilltop Road. The camp would appear to have consisted of some 33 huts of both wooden and Nissen types. The two additional emplacements are of square shape in comparison to the original four which are of the more standard circular type.

Information from RCAHMS (DE), December 2002

This six-emplacement heavy anti-aircraft battery is situated in Coves Public Park about 145m E of Hilltop Road and about 186m NW of Coves No.2 Reservoir (NS27NW 165.01).

An arc of four concrete and brick gun-emplacements spaced about 13m apart and each is a octagonal structure measuring about 12m across with a centrally positoned n oval-shaped holdfast. There is evidence of a cable trench to the holdfast can be seen in an earth filled straight narrow trench running to the outer edge of the emplacement. All the emplacements have or had ready-use ammuntion lockers and crew shelters. The northernmost gun emplacement has one 'Walkinshaw' brick built into the wall.

The two later (1942-43) gun emplacements have recently been demolished, but two low mounds of earth to the immediate NW and SW of the command post show where these were located.

Within the arc of gun-emplacements is the brick and concrete command centre, single storey with a flat roof. A further building, an open roofed compartmentalised building immediately to the NW, may be additional accommodation relating to the extra guns.

About 54m NE of the command position is a flat roofed brick and concrete engine room. There is little evidence in the interior of the engine mountings, apart from three steel fixing points in the floor. The building is heavily covered in modern grafitti.

About 49m NNW and 42m E of the command post are the magazines. Both are have internal subdivisions and that to the N is below the level of the other parts of the battery, and has two sunken curved paths. One curves towards the NW emplacement where it links with a brick built stepped rear entrance, the other curves towards the engine room.

The anti-aircraft battery is visible on large scale (1:5000 scale) vertical air photographs (106G/UK/1019, frames 5035-5037, flown 26 November 1945), which show the two additional gun-emplacements are of a different type to the other four. Also visible is the hutted camp on the other side of Hilltop Road of which little remains apart from the concrete roadway and several possible hut bases. The hutted camp consisted of at least 32 huts, mainly wooden with pitched roofs with possibly seven air-raid shelters. The battery is also visible on RAF WW II oblique air photograph (F309, frame 3662, flown 6 June 1941), which shows the site before the additional two gun emplacements were built.

Records held in the National Archives (London) suggest that the battery was armed with four mobile 3.7-inch calibre guns in June 1942 and by November 1943 6 static 3.7-inch guns and had been disarmed by December 1945. Though Guy notes that this battery was armed with 4.5-inch guns, it is known that that what actually happened on the ground does not always match the official records of supply. The Records also show that the manning of the battery was by 42 Brigade, 130 Regiment.

Visited by RCAHMS (DE, AL, SC), 17 April 2008.

The large flat roofed brick and concrete building about 54m NE of the command position has been identified as a gun store (J Guy; J Bamber 2008), and is not an engine room. In addition there is a small extension to this building which was a toilet.

Information from RCAHMS (DE), August 2008.

Scheduled as 'Larkfield Battery, anti-aircraft battery 175m ESE of 1 Hilltop Road... the remains of the Larkfield heavy anti-aircraft battery, dating to the Second World War. [It] consists of a comman post, several gun emplacements and a number of associated buildings. The site is located on a plateau uverlooking greenock, Gourock and the Clyde Estuary at around 90m above sea level.'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 25th March 2011.


Field Visit (22 August 2018)

This heavy anti-aircraft battery is situated on an uneven natural terrace in waste ground within Coves Public Park, 130m NE of Hilltop Road. It comprises four gun emplacements, a command post, two magazines, a gun store and a metalled service road, while two additional gun emplacements are buried beneath a low, scrub-grown mound. The remains of the camp, which is now reduced to four concrete platforms and a small earthwork, are situated to the SW of Hilltop Road. It was one of at least 43 such batteries that were constructed to protect the industries in the centre of Glasgow and along the banks of the River Clyde from aerial attack by the Luftwaffe during WWII.

The service road, which is tarmacked for 25m from its junction with the public road, continues as a grass-grown metalled track measuring 4.3m wide for another 80m NNE, before turning 25m ENE and entering the battery. The four gun-pits (NS 24633 76544, NS 24659 76550, NS 24682 76535, NS 24686 76508) are planned around the circumference of a circle with a radius of 37m pivoted on a NNE axis. can be separated into two pairs, one on the NW arc of the circle and one on the ENE, but all are of the same overall design and protected by earthen bunds. Each is a regular octagon on plan, measuring 13m in diameter within reinforced cast concrete blast walls 0.33m thick and 1.7m high. A pair of opposed gateways 3.65m broad occupy two of the sides, but the more northerly in the NW gun-pit has been replaced by a narrow, staggered entrance only 0.6m wide, which is centrally located in the brick blocking wall and capped with concrete blocks. Despite this, a neatly kerbed concrete path leads from the equivalent gate in each gun pit down the slope to a magazine shared between each pair. All the gun-pits were also provided with six open-ended ammunition lockers symmetrically arranged against the inner side of the blast wall. These had flat, reinforced concrete roofs, raised concrete floors, brick linings, two rows of put-logs for three wooden racks and open ends parallel with the blast wall. Whereas the lockers adjacent to the gateways measure 2m long by 1.5m broad and 1.4m in height within an inner concrete wall measuring 0.16m thick, the volume of space within the central lockers is very slightly smaller as their inner walls, measuring 0.35m thick, accommodate a pair of vertical airbricks in their side walls at each end – one positioned just below the roof and one just above the floor. They also differ in the fittings inserted into their narrow ends, although these have rarely survived: the thinner walled lockers are equipped with five vertical, lead-set eye bolts on either side at one end only, while the thicker walled lockers seem to have been equipped with three eyebolts adjacent to the blast wall. It is possible these were provided for laces that were attached to protective canvas sheets. However, the E locker in the NW gun-pit and the E locker in the NE gun-pit have been modified. The former has had its lining stripped out and its S opening bricked up save for two air vents just below the roofline and while the latter is similar, its walls being now entirely brick-built. All the other lockers in this gun pit have been demolished and two have also been destroyed in the ESE gun-pit. A length of pipe that carried an electric cable just below the roofline through each of the lockers survives in the NW locker of the NE gun-pit, while inverted triangular plate marks on the blast walls mark the positions of junction boxes outside each. Exceptionally, a rectangular plate mark is located on the E face of the blast wall adjacent to the blocked gateway in the NW gun pit. Although the concrete hard standing in this and the N gun-pit are largely obscured by rubble and vegetation, the circle of metal fittings for the artillery remains visible in the NE and E gun-pits where they measure 2.5m in diameter. Both the N and the E gun-pits differ from their neighbour making up each pair, in having an external shelter attached to their blast walls and incorporated in their bunds. These are rectangular on plan and measure 4.7m by 2.5m transversely within brick walls 0.35m thick and 1.75m high. They have flat concrete roofs and off-centred doorways in their S and W ends respectively, which have been partially blocked-up to leaving their upper sections to be closed by an iron grill. Each also has a square vent in the opposite wall centred just below the roofline. The concrete floor in the N shelter has been completely dug-out and it is possible that this was done in order to provide material to make up the trackway which has been crudely patched in the immediate vicinity.

The two magazines (NS 24641 76568, NS 24703 76524) are situated about 15m NNW and ENE respectively of the gun-pits. They are rectangular on plan and measure 11.8m in length by 4.1m transversely within reinforced cast concrete walls 0.12m in thickness and about 3m in height. They have flat concrete roofs and their facades are divided into five bays by six narrow, rectangular pilasters. Although the entrances in the outer bays have been blocked-up, their central entrances remain accessible but closed by an iron grill. The windows in the bays to each side of the entrance have also been blocked-up in the ENE magazine, leaving only their cast concrete sills visible, but in the magazine to the NNW they are open and fitted with iron grills. Internally, a passage runs the length of the building providing access to five compartments. Both the outer bays and the centre bay have been provided with perforations in their roofs. Apart from the curving paths serving each pair of gun pits, another leads directly from the magazines’ central entrances to the metalled track serving the battery as a whole.

The gun store (NS 224687 76569), which is situated midway between the magazines and about 50m NE of the command post, is also linked to the metalled track by a grass-grown concrete path. However, this is blocked near its SW end by a dump of tarmac. The building is rectangular on plan and measures 8.25m from NE to SW by 6.8m transversely within reinforced cast concrete walls 0.35m thick and 2.2m high. It has a flat, concrete, overhanging roof which extends over a shallow outshot on the NE adjacent to the N corner of the building. The entrance to this is surmounted by a cast concrete lintel, and now closed by an iron grill. A wider entrance, again surmounted by a cast concrete lintel, is positioned off-centre in the SW wall adjacent to the building’s S corner. It has been partially bricked-up to reduce its width and although it retains a metal frame, the door itself is missing. While the SE side is entirely plain, the NE features four widows with cast concrete lintels and sills – two narrow and rectangular that are blocked-up, to either side of two broad and square that are open, but fitted with iron grills. The interior contains a single compartment, the roof of which has been strengthened with three reinforced cast concrete beams running across to the width of the building.

The command post (NS 24656 76521) is situated immediately SW of the service road. This bends sharply WNW to run behind the building in making for the later gun emplacements that now lie beneath the scrub-grown mound to its WSW (NS 24622 76508). Although deeply buried within a broad bund, the command post can be divided into two parts: one, measuring 12.7m from WNW to ESE by 5m transversely over reinforced cast concrete walls up to 0.3m thick and 1.4m high, comprises three interlinked rectangular, enclosures for the height finder, the predictor and the spotting telescope; while the other, measuring 12.25m from NNE to SSW by 9.7m transversely over brick walls capped by an overhanging reinforced cast concrete roof to the NE, contains four separate compartments arranged around a central core. How these are laid out in detail is uncertain, as iron grills blocking the windows and doors prevent access to the interior. A ramp defined by two walls either side of a broader central strip leads up on to the roof of the WSW compartment.

There is no visible trace of the two later gun-pits (NS24627 76511, NS 24647 76491), which are now buried beneath a grass grown mound about 25m SW of the command post.

What remains of the camp is situated in natural woodland immediately SW of Hilltop Road, where there are the remains of four building platforms and a small earthwork. Three of the platforms have been deliberately broken-up (NS 24493 76385, NS 24484 76399, NS 2455 7635) and only a small section of concrete disclosed the position of the fourth which is apparently intact (NS 2454 7641). This is situated at right angles to Larksfield Road about 5m from the edge of the wood. The ground rises steeply to the SW and the earthwork (NS 2447 7637) is situated close to the edge of a NW facing crag. It is roughly rectangular on plan and measures 3.2m from NE to SW by 2m transversely within grass-grown banks 2.3m thick and 1m high. The hollow in the centre is about 0.5m deep.

Visited by HES, Survey and Recording (ATW, AKK) 22 August 2017.


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