Rifle Butts, Crosland Moor, South Crosland
Rifle Butts was a 1,000 yard rifle range situated on Crosland Moor in the late 1800s.
The range was in use by the local Volunteer Rifle Corps as early as 1870 and was situated on moorland at the northern border of the South Crosland boundary with Lockwood and Linthwaite.
The West Riding Enfield Rifle Association held a competition at the range on 24 May 1871, with total prizes worth £30 on offer. Colour Sergeant Rhodes of Huddersfield took the top prize with his score of 48 points.
In 1879, the landowner, Henry F. Beaumont, offered to donate around 30 acres of Crosland Moor to Huddersfield Corporation for the purpose of creating a public park. According to newspaper reports, this area included the rifle range. As the land was felt unsuitable, Beaumont was instead persuaded to donate land at Dungeon Wood which was converted into Beaumont Park.
On Monday 8 September 1884, Private Henry Vizzard of C Company went to the range, which was open from 4pm, and committed suicide by shooting himself through the chest. At the inquest, it was reported that he had visited the Sands House Inn and drunk two pints before walking to the range. His body was found close to the hut where the ammunition was stored and in his hand was a note reading, "I Henry Vizzard has had no comford in my Life for marring a old woman when a Boy." The jury returned a verdict of "shooting himself whilst in an unsound state of mind."
In July 1892, young teenage errand boy Percy Wilkinson, the son of teamer Richard Wilkinson of Lockwood, was charged with cause 1 shillings worth of damage to the rifle butts. According to Police Constables Ellis and Chapman, Wilkinson was one of a group of boys "seen to take stones from the top of the mound behind the targets and roll them down the embankment." Sergeant Instructor Farrell stated that "there had been a good deal of damage done to the butts." Wilkinson pleaded guilty, but stated that it was "another boy who rolled the stone down." Altogether, he was fined 10s. 1d.
Later on in 1892, it was reported that Crosland Moor had been one of several locations considered for the citing of a smallpox hospital, but it was stated that the medical officer objected due to the "proximity of the rifle butts."
In July 1893, two more Lockwood teenagers — Fred Thornton of Swan Lane and Frank Kaye of Shoulder of Mutton Yard — were charged with causing damage to the rifle butts. It was stated that much damage had been done to the mound behind the targets by people "burrowing in the butts for lead" and that "seven or eight feet had gone off the height [of the mound] in [the previous] 18 months." Thornton and Kaye had been seen to "throw stones off the top of the butts and also knock some of the sods off the mantlets" by Constables Ruddick and Ellis. The defendants were fined 1s. each, plus total costs of 6s. 6d.
In February 1894, grocer Charles Brook, office boy Arthur Booth, and blacksmith Arthur Stead, all of Crosland Moor, were charged with causing "malicious damage to the extent of £1 to the rifle butts at Crosland Moor" on the 4 February. Sergeant Major Gay attending the court hearing and ask for the summonses to be withdrawn, as the defendants had already agreed to pay for the damage.
On Saturday 22 June 1895, the West Riding Rifle Association held a competition at the range. Each entrant had to fire five shots from 200, 500 and 600 yards, and Quartermaster-Sergeant C.H. Wood of Lockwood achieved the highest score of 69 points.
The 1896 competition, held on Saturday 19 September, failed to attract "a large number of competitors [...] owing to the Honley feast holidays" and the windy weather was not conducive to accurate shooting. The highest score was only 31, achieved by Quartermaster-Sergeant C. H. Wood of D Company. The Chronicle reported "from the commencement of operations a strong gale blew from the right, and there were heavy downpours of rain and hail at intervals."
In March 1898, Herbert Singleton, John Turner, Francis A. Whitehouse, John Livesey, William Turnacliffe, Ned Ramsden, Fred Owen, Fred Shaw, and William Fawcett were all changed with vandalising the rifle butts on Sunday 13 March.
By 1902, the range was marked as "disused" on the Ordnance Survey map.
The mound behind the targets continued to be shown on Ordnance Survey maps until at least 1947 and was likely partially levelled for the building of Crosland Moor Airfield.
Discovering Old Huddersfield
Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter
During the last decade of the nineteenth century the boundary lane and the land nearby was used as a thousand yard (903 M) rifle-range. Today there is no trace of the small magazine or the target although the site of the latter may be seen from Sands House Lane. To locate it stand in front of the boulder on the east (left) side of the lane and look west. About four hundred yards (363 M) away there is what appears to be a large mound which, according to our calculations, is on the very spot. It is tempting to think that this actually was the stop-butt against which the targets were placed but closer investigation reveals that the mound is the end of a spoil heap some 250 yards long. The range had marker butts at hundred yard (90 M) intervals and beyond five hundred yards (454 M) the markers were very close to the boundary lane. Looking across the quarry towards Thewlis Lane the approximate position of the nine hundred yard (818 M) marker may be calculated (with the help of the map). To hit the target from such a distance must surely have called for expert marksmanship and more than a little luck.
The approximate location of the original targets is shown below, based on a study of the 1906 Ordnance Survey map. The visible earthworks are possibly the shorter 30 yard range used for target practise by the 5th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment during the First World War.
Notes and References
- "West Riding Enfield Rifle Association" in Leeds Mercury (25/May/1871).
- "The Proposed Park at Crosland Moor" in Huddersfield Chronicle" (31/May/1879).
- "Shocking Death of a Huddersfield Volunteer" in Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Sep/1884).
- "Damaging the Rifle Butts" in Huddersfield Chronicle (20/Jul/1892).
- "The Site of the Proposed Small-pox Hospital" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (08/Dec/1892).
- "Damaging the Rifle Butts" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Aug/1893).
- "Settled Out of Court" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1894).
- "West Riding Rifle Association" in Yorkshire Post (24/Jun/1895).
- "Our Local Volunteers" in Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Sep/1896).
- "Damage to Rifle Butts" in Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Mar/1898).
- "The New Thirty Yards Range" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (13/Mar/1914) and "Territorial Orders" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (22/Apr/1914).
- "With the Territorials" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (19/Jun/1914).