Coast Artillery School (1940-45), Great Orme
|Date||6 November 2010|
|Location||Trwynygogarth, Great Orme||
SH 75318 83387 to
SH 75117 84045
53.33264°N, 3.87380°W to
“During the Second World War, Llandudno played host to the Royal Artillery’s Coast Artillery School which was transferred from its historic site at Shoeburyness to the Great Orme’s Head.
“In the dark days of 1940, the need to expand the Artillery School, coupled with regular air-raids and the threat of invasion, led to the decision to move.
“Many sites on the west coast of Britain were carefully examined before the decision was taken to opt for the area of land at the end of Llys Helig Drive on the west shore of the Great Orme.
“The land required little alteration — there was a suitable anchorage for target vessels and good conditions for radio direction finding. These were important factors which led to the choice of site.
“The layout of the site was planned in true military fashion, taking only one day and using, as site markers, toy balloons purchased from a local shop.
“The School transferred in September 1940 and was operational from the 24th of that month.
“In addition to a Gunnery Wing, Wireless and Searchlight Wings were established in October and December 1940 respectively. The Wireless Wing was expanded, and in April 1941 the first special Wireless Courses began, training instructors in radar work for service both home and overseas.
“The Searchlight Wing was established following the transfer of Coast Artillery Searchlights from the Fortress Companies, Royal Engineers. This Wing offered training in the operation and maintenance of searchlights, and it also took over training previously carried out by the School of Electric Lighting at Gosport.
“Officer cadet courses commenced in late September 1941 and continued throughout the war. In 1942 the Coast Training Regiment was based here and remained until 1944.
“Training at the School reached a peak in 1942 when 150 officers, 115 cadets, and 445 other ranks could be accommodated, and up to 14 courses could be run at any one time.
“The activities of the School were not confined to the Great Orme site. A Coast Artillery Practice Camp was established on the Little Orme which whilst enabling Gunners from the East and South coasts exercise, also served, operationally, as the base of 21 Coast Defence Battery R.A.
“The H.Q. and Senior Officers Mess was located at the nearby Gogarth Abbey Hotel, workshops at Red Garages and Central Place and Junior Officers messes at the Richmond and White Heather Hotels. Many other buildings were also used by the School.
“The staff of the Coast Artillery School took part in many sporting activities in the town and staged several amateur variety shows at local venues. They also participated in joint exercices with the Llandudno Home Guard and the R.A.F. who had a radar installation at the Great Orme Summit Hotel. The local Home Guard must have made a good impression, as in 1942 they formed a Battery Company training on 6″ guns, 12 pounders and searchlights. In July 1943 they were officially named the Coast Artillery Battery, Home Guard.
“At the end of the war the armament and equipment were removed and in 1946 the land was returned to the Mostyn family. The buildings became derelict and most were demolished in the mid 1950′s under a reclamation scheme. Nowadays it is a popular spot for an afternoon stroll. Few people realise the significance of the remains through which they walk.”
— Information plaque