Leighton Battery

GPS 32 01 04.16 S115 45 23.21 E

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many times have you driven past this amazing place not even knowing it is there? For me the answer would probably be hundreds of times.

Hidden away just off Stirling Highway on top of Buckland Hill, the battery has a commanding view of the sea approaches to Fremantle.

The Battery was part of Western Australia's coastal defences in World War Two but for many years it was abandoned and all but forgotten.

The tunnels were clogged with sand and debris and few people, except for some local children who discovered and played in the tunnels, even knew that the complex was there.

At one point the tunnels were under threat from residential developments and some of the original gun emplacements and tunnels are now buried. What remains is still a remarkable example of a coastal defence battery.

 

The 300 metres of tunnel were completed in 1943 and were cut through limestone (mostly by hand). Although reaching a depth of 10 metres, the tunnels were not reinforced and would have given crews scant protection if they had ever come under heavy fire from warships.

Initially there were 4 anti-aircraft guns located on the site and soon afterward three 6 inch coastal defence weapons were installed.

Later the emplaced guns each had a protective turret and two 90cm searchlights were installed to illuminate the sea and sky at night. Gun crews either stayed in the tunnels while on duty or at an army camp in dead ground behind Buckland Hill.

In 1945 some of the guns were re-located to coastal defences in Albany.

Women of the Australian Women's Army Service worked on the site in communications roles and had a small (very small) room to sleep in. This room was strictly 'off limits' to all male personnel.

By 1963, the concept of fixed coastal defences had become out-dated and the remaining guns were sold as scrap.

The tunnels were blocked and later the whole site became part of a planned residential development. Luckily one third of the site was retained as public space and today it is an 'A class' reserve and has been entered on the Register of the National Estate.

During the restoration of the site a partially completed tunnel was found hidden behind a brick wall. A great deal of work was done to restore the site including digging out chest deep sand drifts, installing electrical wiring and removing rubble.

The site opened to the public for the first time in 1997 and is now open from 10am to 3pm every Sunday.

For more information on Buckland Hill and the gun battery visit the official site from the link above.

 

 

The Leighton Battery - AQWA

 

The Leighton Battery - AQWA

 

The Leighton Battery - AQWA

 

The Leighton Battery - AQWA

 

The Leighton Battery - AQWA

 

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