Former artillery school HQ
The School of Coastal Artillery moved in September 1940 to the Great Orme from Shoeburyness, on the Thames Estuary, where German air raids kept disrupting training. The new site (described on this page) also provided enough space to expand the gunnery school and create a new wireless and searchlight wing. There were no billets at the site, at the far end of the Orme, so more than 75 hotels, boarding houses and workshops in Llandudno were requisitioned to accommodate the 150 officers and 600 soldiers.
The One Ash Hotel (now the Grand Ash Hotel) became headquarters of the Coastal Artillery School and mainly offered administrative and logistical support to the regiment. Most of the staff were from the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) who were also billeted at the hotel. One ex-ATS member, Josie Woolcott, fondly remembered in 2005 her posting to the One Ash Hotel: “In June 1943 my last posting was to the Coast Artillery School in Llandudno, which was lovely. The food at Llandudno was marvellous. I still fondly remember the buns the cook used to make for us.” The food at her previous posting in Durham had been “terrible”.
In late 1940 Princess Mary, sister of King George VI, visited the One Ash Hotel in her capacity as chief controller of the Auxiliary Territorial Service and met many of the women serving in the unit.
The staff of the artillery school took part in local sporting events in the town, and staged amateur variety shows at local venues including the Pier Pavilion. The men of the Artillery School and women of the ATS would march alongside other military and local civil defence units in local parades.
At the end of the war the coastal artillery school moved to Plymouth, finding a new permanent home in the Royal Citadel.
With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front museum
Postcode: LL30 2DP