WW2 Royal Artillery Coastal School and Gun site,
Llandudno Great Orme
Back in early 2009 I visited the site of the WWII Royal Artillery Coastal School which transferred to Llandudno Great Orme from Shoeburyness in 1940.
Some of the ruins are accessible via Llys Helig Drive on Llandudno’s West shore, here gunners practiced firing huge guns out to toy-boat targets and (also referred to as Hong-Kong targets or anchored vessels). Radio training and searchlight training was also done on this site (radar training was also done from the Summit Hotel which is referred to as the Summit complex at the Great Orme’s summit)
You can clearly make out where some of the buildings once stood and there is a board of information at the site (however there is no plan of the site on this board). The Google map below of the site has most of the buildings listed if you want to get an idea of site layout and more importantly how I reached each building
In the below photo gallery you can view images of what remains from this World War 2 site (1940 – 1945) including bunkers, gunning placement ,gun posts commemorative plaque etc.
Plan and positions of what I have found and photographed. Also the route I took to get to the placements.
Information Board Text
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, lead to the decision to move. Many sites on the west coast of Britain were carefully examined before the decision as 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 suitable anchorage for the 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 planed in true military fashion, taking only one day and using , as site marked, 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 1st special wireless course 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 peek 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 actives of the school were not confined to the Great Orme site. A costal 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 Batter 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 officer’s 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 exercises 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.
Ruins of the ancient Bishops Palace
Located in the above gallery is a photo of the Ruins of the ancient Bishops Palace (also known as the Gogarth Abbey) The land was given to the Lord Bishop Anian I of Bangor by Edward I in 12th Century. The Bishop built his Manor here the extensive buildings were said to have been burnt down by Owain Glyndwr about 1402 however other reports suggest that this was the only building burnt down and that the Bishop abandoned the site in the 15th century