Defensive installations

The main defensive installations were an anti-aircraft gun and searchlight sited in separate emplacements on the crest of the slope above Wake Street.  At the start of the war, they would have been manned by gunners of Anti-Aircraft Command of the Royal Artillery.  By 1942, however, they were joined by women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (A.T.S.) and it seems likely that they took over completely when new hutted accommodation was built next to Upper Knollys Terrace in mid-December 1942.  A memo held in The Box (record number 1646-363) identifies the builder as “Messrs. Pearn Bros.” The type of hut has still to be identified so please get in touch if you can assist. 

In an interview published in the Daily Express on 3rd December 2021, Grace Taylor, a “gunner girl” recalled defending Plymouth. “I remember one night we were in the right place but there were just too many enemy aircraft.  The flashing and the noise was dreadful.  We saw the bombs, you know, as they hit the town.”   

The 1949 map survey shows three huts marked on the east side of Discovery Way about 200 metres north of the gun emplacement.  Their purpose is unknown although it seems likely that they were used by searchlight and gun crews before the A.T.S. huts were built. 

Barrage balloons

Plymouth’s first barrage balloon was launched in Central Park on 31st March 1939.  They were vehicle-mounted and used to deter enemy aircraft from flying low. 

Photograph, Western Morning News 1st April 1939

Anti-tank island

There have been uncorroborated accounts of an anti-tank island located in the park close to Alma Road at the north western corner of the Golf Course.  Anti-tank islands were designed to delay the advance of enemy forces by causing an obstruction on fast routes.  They consisted of fixed or moveable obstacles or explosives that would be detonated ahead of enemy movements. 

After the war

In 2018, broken concrete foundations were uncovered near the anti-aircraft site during work to improve the Sports Plateau’s drainage.  They may have been buried there when large areas of the park were levelled for new sports pitches in 1949. The concrete pieces were moved to a new place on the golf course and arranged to form a hazard.