Former rifle range target wall, built circa 1914.
Reason for Listing
The former rifle range target wall at Burton Meadows, built c1914, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:* Architectural interest: it has an impressive, monumental appearance with its imposing form lightened by raking buttresses which give it a sense of metre and rhythm;* Survival: the structural integrity of the target wall remains intact, along with its contemporary setting;* Selectivity: as a representative and significant example of a First World War rifle range target wall;* Historic interest: as an important landscape feature which acts as a poignant reminder of the character and provision of local military training.
The mid-C19 was marked by a period of growing political and military concerns over French foreign policy and the development of an arms race between the two nations. These fears were heightened when the French press demanded an invasion of Great Britain following the attempted assassination of Napoleon III by the Italian revolutionary Count Orsini. One direct consequence of this situation was the establishment of a Royal Commission in 1859 to consider the defences of the United Kingdom. Although the Royal Commission primarily considered the need for modern defences to protect Royal Dockyards, ports and arsenals, local provision was also encouraged. Rifle Volunteer Units were subsequently set up throughout the country in anticipation of war with France. A rifle club, established in 1852, probably formed the nucleus of the Rifle Volunteer Corps established in Burton-upon-Trent in 1859, with the Marquess of Anglesey providing land for a rifle range at the north end of Burton Meadows. When the volunteers were assigned to line regiments in 1883, Burton became the headquarters of a battalion of the Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire Regiment), later a Territorial Army Unit. The development of the rifle range is illustrated on successive 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Maps. The first edition map of 1884 depicts a range measuring 1100 yards in length, comprising a north-west to south-east aligned target wall, somewhat smaller than the present wall, with earthwork butts arranged at regular intervals from the 200 to the 1100 yard marks. An identical depiction is shown on the second edition map of 1901. By 1923, however, when the third edition map was published, the rifle range had been significantly altered, with the target wall being rebuilt on a large scale. The butts at the 200, 500 and 600 yard marks were also increased in length, whilst the 1100 yard butt was removed. It is probable, given the date, that these changes were undertaken to improve the range for First World War training exercises. The range maintains its early-C20 form through to the late C20, when the seventh edition map of 1971 shows that several butts had been altered. These modifications included the reduction in size of the 200 yard butt, the introduction of a new butt at the 300 yard mark and the repositioning of the 500 yard butt to a point around 40m north-west of its original position. In addition, all of the butts from the 800 yard to the 1000 yard mark were removed. As of 2014, the target wall stands largely as built in the early C20. However, the majority of the butts have been lost, either levelled by ploughing or removed to allow for the laying out of sports pitches.
Former rifle range target wall, built circa 1914.MATERIALS: of brick with a cast-iron facing to the central stop wall. EXTERIOR: the target wall stands on a north-west to south-east alignment and measures c61m in length. Its principal south-west face has a symmetrical composition comprised of a central stop wall with flanking screen walls. The stop wall is recessed with spayed ends and a raised top section. Bolted to its lower half are three rows of rectangular cast iron panels which, along with the exposed brick walling above, display copious bullet holes. To the left-hand re-entrant wall, which links the target wall to the left-hand screen wall, there are ground- and first-floor doorways to the former target store at the rear. The right-hand re-entrant wall is blind. The flanking screen walls are supported by five lateral buttresses with offsets, all placed at regular intervals. Each end also has a single lateral buttress with offsets. To the rear, the screen walls are again supported by lateral buttresses while the stop wall is supported by battered buttresses, all with offsets. All the copings and offsets are of blue brick with some stone to the offsets at the rear of the stop wall. At the right-hand side, in the re-entrant angle between the target wall and screen wall, stands the former target store. Of two builds, it is a two-storeyed structure with slate roofs and cambered-headed window and door openings to its north-west and north-east faces. At the left-hand side, again in the re-entrant angle, is a single-storeyed building with a late-C20 extension. It is constructed from brick with a cambered-headed window to the original section and a flat-headed doorway with a concrete lintel to the addition. Both ranges are covered with a late-C20 reinforced concrete roof. INTERIOR: the former target store has a blue brick floor. The original section contains the handle and pulley wheel from the mechanised target system. Its ceiling beams still survive, although the floorboards have been removed, and its roof is comprised of a single queen post truss. In the later addition, the ceiling beams have been removed. Its roof is formed of a single king post truss with rafter ends resting on brick corbels. The single-storeyed range at the left-hand side has plain brick walls and no features of note.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.