Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Decoy Sites - Worsthorne

This World War Two decoy site on the outskirts of Worsthorne, Burnley was one of a series of sites across the surrounding moors, designed to protect Accrington from bombing.

There is information on Pastscape about this and the other sites and it is written by English Heritage. So those claiming it to be creating "Manchester-on-the-moors" (Wikipedia) are, I am afraid, slightly out geographically.

 

What was so important in Accrington during the war that an elaborate series of decoys were set up and permanently manned to protect it? It was the Howard & Bulloughs factory which played an important part in the war effort.

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Above: The only entrance to the main building and its protective blast walls.

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Above and Below: Several photos of the command building - PLEASE NOTE that this site, while viewable from the road, is on PRIVATE PROPERTY and there is no public access.

So what was this site? It was a 'Permanent Starfish' site - a site definitely manned from August 1941 to March 1942 and beyond. Starfish (or 'SF Sites') lit fires to look like bombs had dropped on their target and so encourage other enemy bombers to drop their bombs there too.

It was also a 'QL Site' - one which purposely showed electric lights to appear to enemy aircraft as urban lights, thus hopefully confusing them into dropping their bombs onto moorland rather than a town.

The lights at Worsthorne were meant to replicate Bank Top Station, representing marshalling yard lights and factories.

 

All information courtesy of Pastscape and English Heritage

While this site appears to be in the middle of nowhere today, it is in fact in an area full of history.

In a neighbouring field is the remains of a Bronze Age Stone Circle. There are numerous find spots and monument sites in the near vicinity dating from the Mesloithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and even possible Roman sites.

Plus later Dark Age and Medieval sites.

This is just one of five associated sites (and other further possible sites) in this vicinity.

As we visit and write about the other ones, we will post links to those pages BELOW:

Worsthorne Mario Map 40s

Left: Courtesy of Mario Maps on the Lancashire County Council website.

This 1940's aerial photo shows the field containing the main command building (the large white blob just above the road towards the bottom of the photo) and above it some linear features (showing as white lines)  probably associated with the decoy site - looks more like a dummy airfield?