Tuesday 28 November 2023

Holcombe Moor Rifle Ranges (Richard Horrocks)

Upcoming Talk - January 2024

7.30pm at Harwood Methodist Church
Thursday 25th January 2024

Speaker: Richard Horrocks

Rifle ranges in England were constructed in considerable numbers after the formation of the Volunteer Force in 1859 partly as a response to the perceived threats of invasion by Napoleon III and the Second Empire. This date followed the replacement by the British Army of the time-served, smooth-bore Brown Bess musket by rifled muskets, which had significantly increased accuracy over ranges up to 1000 yards. During the following 50 years or so as rifles developed to breech-loading and magazine types, culminating in the replacement of black powder propellant by smokeless (e.g., cordite) powder, not only did accuracy increase over longer ranges, but also the need for improved safety zones occurred. This resulted in many earlier ranges closing or being transferred to other locations. Within Lancashire, only one remains today that was first established in 1853 just before the Crimean War (1854-56) and which throughout all these developments managed to accommodate the consequences of these changes, although not without several relocations – Holcombe Rifle Range. This was most likely because Holcombe Moor offered not only the space for large safety zones but also its topography allowed a number of ranges to be established at various times.

This talk will cover four phases of range development and relocation since 1853  as a consequence of the moor being able to accommodate developments of firearms technology. The etching below of HM the Queen’s Prize at Wimbledon Common in the 1860s would perhaps represent a scene typical of that which might have been less formally seen on the Phase 2 Holcombe range development on the Ramsbottom side of Holcombe Moor.

The National Rifle Association Meeting on Wimbledon Common
The National Rifle Association Meeting on Wimbledon Common  1861