Site Details

Map Reference
Grid Reference
Unitary (Local) Authority
Old County
Merlins Bridge
Type of Site
Broad Class
19th Century

Site Description

A Victorian rifle range located on the estuary of the river Cleddau, on its south bank, just south of the town. Shooting competitions were reported in the local press as early 1874 when the range was in use by the Haverfordwest Volunteer Rifle Association (1). It appears on First Edition Ordnance Survey maps (1868-91) as a 650 yard range on two firing lines aligned roughly north-west by south-east. The target area, about 18m long, is located on the south-east at SM96681390 in front of an old limestone quarry which presumably acted as the stop-butt. Shooting positions are portrayed on the more northerly line at 100 yard intervals, from 300 yards as far as 600 yards and then 650 yards. On the shorter line slightly to the south only the 200 yard position is shown. The firing positions are depicted as box-like features which may indicate built structures. By the time of the Second Edition map (1907) the range had gone. Local press reports suggest the range was closed down in 1897 after it failed a safety review when it was found that it could not be used safely with the new Lee-Metford rifle. (The year before there had been a serious accident in which a marker was shot and later died from his injuries). An alternative venue at Gellyswick was thereafter used (2).
Modern air photos show that the target area is now under tree cover. Field investigation identified a linear ditch some 10m-12m long, 2m wide and 0.75m deep at the location of the former targets. This is probably the scarp shown on the map immediately behind the line of targets which may have acted as a shelter for the marker. Behind the ditch is a large mound, probably spoil from the old quarry, which acted as the stop-butt. The shorter of two firing lines portrayed has a firing position at 200 yards, located on tussocky, uneven ground on the river floodplain. This position is marked by a low rise measuring 3m (E-W) by 1.5m and 0.25m high, fronted by a shallow ditch. A nearby footbridge crossing a drain could not be identified. The adjacent 650 yard firing line, although on open ground, could not be accessed for investigation.

Cardiff Times 26.09.1874
(2) Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph 29.09.1897
Sources also include:
NAW aerial photography 2006-9
OS 1st edition 25in mapping

David Leighton & Deanna Groom, RCAHMW, 24 September 2014

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