The West Coast of Lancashire above Liverpool during WW2 was perhaps more heavily guarded than some today realise. Below Formby's Radar station, decoy site, ROC station and firing range was the Altcar Firing Range (still in existence today). South of these was Fort Crosby. All of these sites were in place to defend the port of Liverpool in particular.
Today little is visible of this site, but thanks to the excellent research undertaken by Alison Burns published as 'Forgotten Fort Crosby: Dune Heritage Revealed', we can now reveal its history and what remains today.
Building began in 1906 to protect the area from the Mersey up to Barrow. Guns were installed before WW1. During the First World War the battery was not used in anger but nearby Sniggery Camp or Sniggery Barracks was a camp for troops on the way to war in France and the battery was manned and expanded.
By the Second World War, the site was upgraded as would be expected: "As part of the defences of the Mersey at the outbreak of the Second World War, Fort Crosby was armed with two 6-inch Mark VII guns and four searchlights.....its role was to monitor shipping movements in the Mersey" (Alison Burns). As well as multiple extra buildings introduced, there was an extension to the surrounding area with minefields introduced, anti-tank trenches, searchlights, pillboxes and anti-aircraft guns.
Little still exists of this site, but if you look carefully a few remnants can be seen. North of the lifeboat station at Crosby, the first thing you find are the bases of four anti-aircraft guns and an associated building. These are in poor condition. They can be found by locating their reinforced concrete roofs, which protect buildings below that would have been for storage and shelter. There are several of these in a row - see our photos below:
ABOVE: "ATS girls and gun crews of 177 Heavy Battery rush to 'take post' at Fort Crosby near Liverpool, England. This training operation formed part of British preparations to repel the threatened German invasion of 1940" - photo & description courtesy of the Imperial War Museum
BELOW: There are five or six buildings associated with the Anti-Aircraft Guns still in existence in some form. These are pictures of some of the ones we found.
This site was built in sand dunes, which move on a daily basis, in time covering or revealing structures below. This huge battery was demolished leaving very little behind. What we can now see may not be available for long. The vague remnants of what was once here are at times visible. For instance, Alison Burns' report states that there are still traces of other sites still visible: "An ROC bunker was situated in the sand dunes just north of Hall Road and Burbo Bank Road. Now demolished, the bunker’s remains can be seen between the coastal footpath and the golf course". This would have been from the Cold War and would have been like the one in nearby Formby. We did not see this on our visit, but if anyone thinks they can locate it and has photos we would love to see them.
BELOW: Two more contemporary photos coutesy of the Imperial War Museum of Fort Crosby.
ABOVE LEFT: The only obvious structures still visible - the Anti-Aircraft Gun sites.
ABOVE RIGHT: A random piece of concrete leftover from the Fort
BELOW: The site was demolished and landscaped. Now only dunes exist and there is no evidence of the other structures that were once present.
LEFT: Just a stones throw away in the distance is the Crosby beach where tons of rubble from the Liverpool Blitz was dumped - SEE OUR PAGE ABOUT IT HERE