The Command Centre at Croft Farm, Upton St Leonards is a non-standard c.1938 structure that forms the focus of a Heavy Anti-Aircraft site. The Command Centre itself and one gun emplacement remain intact, and three further emplacements are buried remains.
Reason for Listing
The Command Centre at Croft Farm, Upton St Leonards, constructed in circa 1938 is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: the Command Centre is a relatively rare example of a non-standard structure of its type, especially outside of the south-east of England;
* Intactness: the Command Centre is largely unaltered and complete with interior fittings, and its original use is plainly legible;
* Historic interest: the Command Centre illustrates a key point in the Second World War defence of the Severn Estuary and Gloucester;
* Date: a particularly early Second World War Heavy Anti-Aircraft site, probably constructed before the outbreak of hostilities.
This command post formed the focus of a Heavy Anti-Aircraft (HAA) site, and was constructed as part of a national defence programme in response to the threat of German invasion from 1939. Coastal defences (batteries, mines and barbed wire) were strengthened, and defensive lines stretching inland were created in order to slow down the progress of an invading force. Belmont Camp, housing up to 400 military personnel, was established around the HAA site at Croft's Farm by June 1942, when the camp was listed as HAA number A14. The site formed part of the Gloucester/ Brockworth Gun Defended Area (GDA), and in June 1942 1014 HAA sites were listed, located within 149 GDAs. The Gloucester/ Brockworth GDA was one of the largest, with 18 positions. The HAA site at Croft's Farm would have provided protection to the airfield at Brockworth, the industrial area of Gloucester, and would cover the Luftwaffe bombing route to the West Midlands via the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary. This site was one of only eight HAA sites in Gloucestershire that was manned constantly during the war. It had four gun emplacements fitted with 3.7 inch static guns.
The Camp and HAA site fell into disuse after WWII. The derequisitioning of the site was agreed in Parliament in 1955, and the land was sold into private hands shortly afterwards. In line with a covenant attached to the sale, much of the HAA was demolished by the new owner, although one gun emplacement was left in situ and a bungalow dwelling was built over the roofed section of the command post in 1961.
MATERIALS: the command post is constructed of concrete and red brick.
PLAN: it is irregular on plan, and a non-standard type. It stands on a north-south axis. The principal, roofed range stands to the west and is a three-bay structure. The main entrance is in the north-east of the central bay, with reinforced concrete steps leading down into the main plotting room from the unroofed eastern part of the command post. The plotting room is partially subdivided by concrete and brick piers, and there is a doorway into the north bay. The single-depth room in the north end stands across the north-east corner of the central bay, extending eastwards alongside the outside steps. It has an angled east wall, and an escape hatch in the west wall. There are doorways from the plotting room into the south bay, which is two rooms deep. The south bay extends beyond the east wall of the plotting room. There are three further escape hatches built into the walls.
In the unroofed part of the command post there are steps up to ground level, to the south of the main entrance. Adjacent to the north bay of the roofed range is a spotting telescope station, square on plan. To the north is a rectangular room, formerly the predictor station, with infilled steps to ground level in the north-east corner. To the south, adjacent to the central and south bays of the roofed range, is an infilled, octagonal, optical rangefinder station. Further east is a rectangular roofed structure, a former rest shelter.
EXTERIOR: the roofed range of the command post has little visible exterior structure due to its below ground location, underneath a dwelling. By the west and south walls are four brick-lined openings in the ground that serve the escape hatches, although one is obscured beneath the dwelling. The unroofed structures to the east are not covered by the dwelling, and are visible from ground level. Two windows are set in the east wall of the plotting room, beside the doorway. The passageways in the unroofed area are mainly of concrete, and about 2m tall. The walls leading to the shelter to the east are of local red brick. The shelter has opposing windows in its flank walls, positioned partly below ground level. The roof of the shelter is a large 4m by 6.5m concrete slab, and a square concrete chimney flue is positioned immediately to the east.
INTERIOR: the floors and roofs are of concrete, and the walls are mainly of red brick. Some WWII paint survives. The WWII lighting with grilles, fuse box and cabling is in situ in the plotting room and adjacent rooms. There are a number of iron and timber fixings left in the walls and on door jambs. The walls, ceilings and floors have evidence of former partitioning and shelving, and chiselled recesses for cabling. There is a brick hearth in the north-west corner of the plotting room. In the shelter to the east there is a hearth with an iron grate. The unroofed areas have various iron fittings. There is a painted "S" on the south wall of the spotting telescope station. The predictor and spotting telescope stations have some minor brick alterations.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: to the south-east is an intact gun emplacement designed to house a 3.7 inch static gun. It is constructed of concrete and brick on top of a 6m thick concrete base. The emplacement has brick and concrete ammunition lockers and two door openings. A trench for cabling between the command post and the emplacement remains below ground. Further trenches extend to the remains of three other emplacements, to the west and north-west. Only the concrete bases of these emplacements are thought to survive.
The modern bungalow is not of special interest.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.