During the war a different type of watch post was created to look out for incendiary fire and these were called Fire-Watchers' Posts. These posts were made by and for Vickers-Armstrong, the owners of the shipyard at the time, and were about six feet high and made of metal. There are two examples of such Fire-Watchers posts on Walney golf course. These structures are conical in shape with thin slits cut into the metal at intervals around its circumference. These were for the watcher inside to look out of and be able to see all around without leaving the structure. You may wonder why the slits were made so thin? Wouldn't it be easier to have bigger viewing holes like the Pillboxes? Well, no. As these were for looking out for fire the slits needed to be small so if a fire broke out around the post the fire couldn't get in through the viewing holes. When in use there would have been a door attached for entry and closing once inside but these have long since gone. The man stationed inside one of these posts would keep an eye out for fire and if one was to occur he would then go about extinguishing it using implements stored inside the structure with him. If you look inside one of these quirky little structures you will find some nice little features, after you get past the bottles and cans at your feet of course. Inside the one pictured here is a rusted hook attached to the wall, to the right of the entranceway, once used for hanging up the jackets of the watchman on duty. There is also a thin rusted rod that is hanging down from the wall, what this was for exactly is unclear but it's certainly interesting to see and ponder.
Not far from the Fire-Watchers post pictured is several more defensive structures that were once associated with a much larger complex known as Fort Walney.
enemy action. Not far away from the Searchlight pictured is another, somewhat identical one, sat on a rise above one of the golf course greens. Again it looks out to the sea ahead of it. Both these concrete creations were once associated with a larger Battery Encampment known as Fort Walney. This once impressive encampment stood behind the two searchlights; alongside the current Coast Guards watch tower. The tower was originally part of the encampment but without its brick facing. The encampment spanned about 300 metres by around 130 metres and held with in many concrete structures and weaponry for use in defending the island and, of course, Barrow. There is evidence left today of parts of this battlement including the metal and concrete base of a Spigot Mortar, a type of weapon that could fire explosives over short distances. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your outlook, the rest of Walney Fort has been demolished and lost to the golf course.
To the South of Walney, where the nature reserve is today, was another Battery Encampment known as Hilpsford Fort. This fort includes another searchlight like the ones already mentioned as well as several anti invasion weapons. On visiting the site you can find evidence of such weaponry with the concrete and rusted metal remains of their bases. The fort was constructed in 1914 for the First World War and had been mostly demolished not long after that war ended. By 1940 the site was needed again and construction work took place to bring it back to life, adding the gun placements and new concrete buildings. It was often used for training purposes with local Home Guard volunteers undertaking various courses here. As Fort Walney almost all of Hipsfort Fort has been demolished only leaving the odd concrete remain, which can be found amongst the nesting seagulls on the nature reserve.
There is so much history relating to World War 2 throughout Barrow and across Walney that it would take several posts to take a look at every feature and every story there is! I hope that this has been an interesting insight into some of the military defences that still stand proud, and some not so proud, across the town today. These various concrete and metal structures might not seem like much but they were the front line of defence for the town, the shipyard and even the country!