MACHYNLLETH RIFLE RANGE;PARK COMMON RIFLE RANGE
Map Reference SH70SE
Grid Reference SH75700040
Unitary (Local) Authority Powys
Old County Montgomeryshire
Type of Site FIRING RANGE
Broad Class DEFENCE
Period 20th Century, 19th Century
Site Description Located on Park Common, a rifle range in use well into the twentieth century but now in an area used as a golf course.
A rifle range was already present in the mid-19th century as it is represented on the OS First Edition map (1887) as ‘Rifle Butt (Disused)’ on the west bank of a minor stream. By 1900 it was proposed to build a new one on the same alignment as the old. But correspondence and reports of local authority meetings in the local press (1900-04) reveal the divisions this caused in the community. Safety concerns arising from the firing line crossing the Llanidloes road, and perceived threats to common rights, collided with considerable demand for a new range, local volunteer corps numbers having recently increased steeply at the time of the Boer War. Despite this controversy the range was constructed and opened in 1900, press correspondence indicating that ‘shooting mounds, flag-staffs, target mound, buildings etc’ were constructed.
The Second Edition OS map (1901) portrays a 700 yard range, firing positions shown at 100 yard intervals (aligned roughly north-south), the target area on the south, and a small building adjacent to a mound to the north-east of the targets.
The tree-grown target mound, at SH 75660009, on the same site as the earlier target area, is an earth and gravel bank some 20m long (E-W) by 6m wide and 2.8m high revetted on its south side with a concrete wall. It is set across a platform cut into steeply rising ground which forms the stop butt. The rear side of the mound has been converted into a shed for storing equipment, the concrete wall forming one long wall of a building otherwise defined by breeze block, and with a corrugated iron roof. The compacted earthen floor within has obscured the target mountings though one edge of the concrete slit trench which once supported them is visible at the east end. Impressions of brackets in the wall may have held an awning for the markers. The target area is now twice the length of its portrayal (only 10m); when it was extended is unknown.
The building, perhaps a control room, lay some 50m to the north-east at SH7571800130. Only its wall bases now remain suggesting a building of stone, brick and concrete construction measuring 5.2m (E-W) by 3m internally. It is densely overgrown with bracken and nettles. On the immediate east is a raised area, which may be natural, possibly used for observation. The firing positions are not mapped as built features though according to golf course staff these once existed; post-war landscaping of the course appears to have erased them.
The range remains portrayed on the OS Fourth Edition map (1938-53). This long history of use, probably until the end of the Second World War at least, means that the range will have been in use during the First World War. When it finally went out of use is at present unknown.
A ‘golf ground’ was opened on the Common in 1892 though it is not portrayed on early maps. Its history of use alongside the range is unknown.
David Leighton, RCAHMW, 19 May 2014