DOLGELLAU RIFLE RANGE;TAL-Y-WAUN RIFLE RANGE
Map Reference SH71NW
Grid Reference SH70181720
Unitary (Local) Authority Gwynedd
Old County Merioneth
Type of Site FIRING RANGE
Broad Class Defence
Period 20th Century
Site Description The disused firing range lies on enclosed rough pasture about 3 km west of Dolgellau. It comprises a well-preserved target area, traces of rifle mounds and a footbridge.
The target area, which lies adjacent to a minor road, on its north side at SH70171696, consists of a bank 28m long (E-W), 6m wide and 3m high, revetted on its south side with a slightly battered dry-stone wall up to 1m thick and 2m high, capped with concrete. Attached to the wall are seven steel brackets for (?) securing a protective awning for the markers. A small, shallow alcove is set into the wall at its west end. At the foot of the wall is a berm 1m wide, running along the entire length of the wall, which forms one edge of a concrete slit trench 0.75m wide and about 0.5m deep though now silted. This trench supports the winding gear for six target frames, still in place. Each cast-iron frame enabled a target to be raised, fired at, lowered and repaired or replaced. On the opposite side of the road, steeply rising ground will have provided a natural ‘stop butt’.
About 55m in front of the targets, at SH70161724, a narrow drainage course is crossed by a footbridge of four railway sleepers, partially overgrown, measuring about 1.2m wide.
According to early editions of OS maps firing positions to the north of the targets were set at 300, 400 and 500 yards, each position shown as a linear feature. Over most of this area the ground vegetation is a dense boggy matt of molinia. At the 300 yard position, SH70171724, was found a low bank, barely discernible, measuring 10m long (E-W), 3m-4m wide and 0.3m high. At the 400 yard position (SH70171733) no obvious trace of a mound was seen. The 500 yard position, at SH70187420, near the roadway to Maes Angharad, is marked by a low rise of firmer ground in bog, which is perhaps the firing position. Immediately behind this, at SH 70171743, lies a bank (the upcast from a drain and shown on the early maps) which might have provided a more suitable firing position.
The date and duration of the range are uncertain. The first edition OS 25-inch map (1889) does not show it. But it is portrayed on the second edition as ‘disused’, in 1901. Also shown prominently are two ‘markers’ huts’, in the target position, but which at some point were replaced by the present 'modern' arrangement of target mound and winding gear. However long the range was out of use it must have come back into use during, if not before, the First World War and probably also during the Second World War.
Modern mapping portrays the target area as it now is though still refers to it as 'Markers Huts'.
Local newspaper reports suggest that the range originated here in 1893 as a temporary arrangement for musketry practice by two batallions of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers who were to be stationed in the district for six or seven months of the year. The following year a proposal was made for a permanent range following communications with the War Office (1).
(1) Cambrian News & Merionethshire Standard, 10.08.1894.
David Leighton & Medwyn Parry, RCAHMW, 02 July 2014