Site of Victorian rifle range, Abergwyngregyn

Site of Victorian rifle range, Abergwyngregyn

Between the coast path and shore here is a bank of earth covered in vegetation. It’s a remnant of a shooting range established by December 1891, when Lord Penrhyn was thanked for providing the Bangor Corps of Volunteers with a range at Aber. The range was also used by visiting territorial army soldiers, who camped nearby. Annual carbine and musketry competitions were held at the two-acre site.

An earlier generation of Bangor volunteers had used a shooting range at Aber in the 1860s, but the location was inconvenient at that time. The volunteers preferred a range at Beaumaris.

In March 1904, the newly formed Bangor Rifle Club held its first weekly shooting practice at Aber rifle range. Despite a gale, novice J Humphreys hit the bull’s eye with his first shots at 200 and 500 yards. Fellow club members suspected he wasn’t a novice, but his later shots showed that he had enjoyed beginners’ luck!

In 1910 range caretaker John Hughes noticed smoke rising from near the range’s hut. He found the marking board and its framework burnt. Two vagrants told him they’d only been making tea. They were later jailed for a week.

Regular and volunteer soldiers used the range throughout the First World War. During the Second World War, Abergwyngregyn’s Home Guard trained there – local volunteers who were unable to join the armed forces but were prepared to fight any German invading force. During the war they helped to rescue airmen from crashed aircraft on nearby mountains.

In the late 1940s the War Office planned to extend the rifle range to cover c.48 acres, including a firing point just 500 yards from the end of Llanfairfechan promenade. Llanfairfechan council feared this could harm local tourism.

The range was used in the 1950s and 1960s by cadets and by territorials of local Royal Welch Fusiliers battalions. A regular exercise for the Conwy battalion was to march along the old Roman road from Caerhun in the Conwy Valley over the mountains to Aber, finishing with shooting practice at the rifle range. In the late 1960s the military relinquished the range, which was used by Conway Rifle Club and Bangor City Gun Club for practice and competitions.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno

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