Lithgow Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun Stations and Dummy Station | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Lithgow Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun Stations and Dummy Station

Item details

Name of item: Lithgow Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun Stations and Dummy Station
Other name/s: Lithgow Anti Aircraft Gun Emplacements, Heavy Anti Aircraft guns 3.7 inch anti aircraft guns
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Defence
Category: Battery
Location: Lat: -33.5013780393 Long: 150.1213737654
Primary address: Kirkley Street (via), Bowenfels, NSW 2790
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Lithgow
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Bathurst
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT3 DP1017922
PART LOT1 DP413551
PART LOT90 DP751650
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Kirkley Street (via)BowenfelsLithgow CookPrimary Address
off Chifley RoadScenic HillLithgow  Alternate Address
off Hassans Walls RoadLithgowLithgow  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Lithgow City CouncilLocal Government03 Nov 10

Statement of significance:

The Lithgow Anti Aircraft Gun Stations and Dummy Station have state significance as the only known inland heavy anti aircraft gun stations of their type in NSW. The emplacements were introduced as an important part of the network of defence sites established at Lithgow during the latter half of World War Two. The defences were introduced to protect Lithgow's important mining, manufacturing and transport industries and the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. The construction of these defence facilities together with those at the Small Arms Factory represents a changing national defence policy in response to the entry of Japan into World War Two, and an increased perception of the vulnerability of inland areas brought about by improvements in aircraft technology. This is further demonstrated by the construction of the dummy batteries to ensure local defence facilities were not easily targeted during an enemy attack.
Date significance updated: 11 May 11
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Builder/Maker: Water Conservation & Irrigation Commission, Defence
Construction years: 1941-1942
Physical description: The Lithgow Anti Aircraft Gun Stations are set in vastly different landscapes. The Bowenfels Gun Station is located in a vast cleared area which gives way to new development in some directions with the mountains clearly visible in the distance. The Great Western Highway is in close proximity. The station at Scenic Hill is located in a vastly different environment among disturbed bushland demonstrating the more isolated environment it was historically a part of. Its dummy gun station is located off a track in the middle of bushland.

The two stations include four octagonal reinforced concrete gun emplacements for 3.7 heavy anti-aircraft guns arranged around a central reinforced concrete command bunker consisting of a square, three level building connected to a smaller two level octagonal building.

The four gun emplacements are designed to house 3.7" anti-aircraft guns. Each has a single entry point via a break in the outer walls. Inner and outer concrete walls form the rifle trench. The emplacements all contain evidence of the gun fixings in the centre. These consist of eight locating bolts arranged in a circular pattern. Concrete revetments which form ammunition storage bays and provided protection from bomb blasts are built into the main walls on alternate sides of the octagon. Commencing on the first side left of the entry point of the emplacement, the storage bays are accessible from inside the emplacements only. The rear of these storage spaces projects beyond the outer of the wall of the reinforced concrete rifle trenches. What appear to be later addition, purpose built blonde brick walls are located parallel to the original sides on the remaining walls.

The reinforced concrete command post bunker is a square, three level building connected to a smaller two level octagonal building. It contains various rooms in the form of a World War One Block House (a single small fort). Protective, narrow concrete passages link the buildings. The two smaller buildings each include a flat concrete platform. One was for the predictor, the other for the Barr & Stroud height finder and the Telescope.

All structures have fittings such as bolts, indicating the locations of various elements such as timber covers long since deteriorated.

The Bowenfels gun station has been cleared of debris and made accessible. Alternatively, the Scenic Hill gun station is in much poorer condition due to their isolation.

Three 3.7 inch heavy anti aircraft guns have been relocated to the Bowenfels Gun Station and positioned in three of the emplacements. They are similar to the original guns but are a mobile version. All three appear to be in good condition when viewed by the casual observer, however they are in need of some conservation and ongoing maintenance works to arrest rust and other forms of deterioration resulting from exposure to the weather.

At least two examples of dummy gun emplacements are known to exist near Hassans Wall Road at Lithgow. They are accessed via a driveable track leading from Chifley Road. The dummy emplacements are located in small clearings with small, scrubby, native plantings. Raised octagonal cement platforms with a central iron pipe located in the centre cut off to the height of the platform are located on a larger circular base appearing to consist of sand, cement, slag and other materials that have now broken down to form a loose surface that has deteriorated significantly. Overall, each dummy emplacement has a diameter of approximately six metres.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Bowenfels Gun Station is in good, sound condition having been cleaned, stabilised and had debris removed. The Scenic Hill Gun Station has suffered significant subsidence resulting in partial collapse in some areas and nature has begun to reclaim the site. The Dummy Battery emplacements are in fair condition, although the outer areas have begun to crumble and are likely to continue to do so.
Date condition updated:03 Nov 10
Modifications and dates: 1943-44 - Guns removed from Gun stations
2003 - Bowenfels Gun Sation cleared and cleaned and guns representative of the original guns located in three of the four emplacements.
Current use: disused
Former use: Anti Aircraft gun batteries/gun emplacements and dummy batteries/emplacements


Historical notes: Prior to the entry of Japan into World War Two in early December 1941 it was the policy of Military Command in New South Wales to give priority to the fortification of the industrial areas of Newcastle, Sydney and Port Kembla. However, Japan's rapid advance and it's attack on Malaya and Pearl Harbor, saw the decision made that certain country areas also needed defensive measures in the event of an air attack, including Lithgow and Bathurst. In addition, bridges and roads were identified for destruction, road blocks and obstacles were erected in northern suburban areas of Sydney, tank traps were constructed and a variety of activities undertaken to prevent a land based enemy invasion reaching the inland areas. Lithgow was included as an adjunct to the Sydney Fortress Area in order to place its industries, transport infrastructure and defence site under protection from aerial attack, including the Small Arms Factory in the centre of Lithgow, the ammunition depots at Clarence and other railway tunnels, the major Depot at Marangaroo and the various coal mines in the Lithgow Valley and nearby. Sydney Command was particularly concerned about attack from the high level Japanese bombers and low level strafing fighter planes or dive bombers. The Army Command inspection of December recommended the defences take the form of two 4 gun 3.7 inch anti-aircraft batteries plus a Lewis Machine Gun detachment for the close defence of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. The Small Arms Factory had been constructed as a central defence arsenal between 1909 and 1911 as part of Australia's general movement towards self sufficiency following Federation in 1901. This movement saw greater desire to manufacture and grow food, supplies and other needs at home rather than buying them from overseas. (Southall, 1995: 7-9; Robertson & Hindmarsh, 2006:66-94)

The Army concluded that any aerial attack on the Lithgow area would, because of the topography of the Lithgow Valley, be from either end of the valley rather than across the narrow valley. This dictated the placement of one Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun Station (A Troop) at the western end of the valley at South Bowenfels and the other Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun Station (B Troop) at the eastern end of the valley on the heights of Scenic Hill overlooking the Vale of Clwydd. A third detachment was to be mounted on the roof of the Small Arms Factory using a Lewis Machine Gun for the close defence of the factory and to provide protection against strafing fighters and from dive bombers.

Work began on the stations immediately and workmen from the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission poured the concrete floors of the emplacements prior to 22 December 1941. The emplacements were ready to receive and mount the guns on their hold-down bolts on that date. The urgency for completion of the gun stations increased as the Japanese moved through Malaya, Singapore and finally to various islands north of Australia. As a result, no time was allocated to allow the concrete to cure. However the original guns intended for Lithgow were sent to Singapore and remained on the docks there until captured by the Japanese in 1942. This delayed the delivery of the guns to the last week of 1941. The Clwydd guns were not installed until 2 January 1942. The guns at the Bowenfels Gun Station were installed soon after. The guns were protected by temporary sand bag revetments until the reinforced concrete and brick revetments were constructed. These revetments also became the ammunition/storage bays and were designed to protect the gunners from bomb blasts.

The Command Posts at both batteries were the next items to be constructed. The Command Post was centrally located among the four gun emplacements and was, according to Southall, of a World War 1 blockhouse design. From the central room of the blockhouse protected passages gave access to the platforms containing the tracking instruments: the Predictor on the roof of the octagonal section of the Command Post and the Barr & Stroud Height Range Finder and the Telescope (or Toc 1). All the platforms were protected with removable roofs which could swing open on hinges ready for action.

The Predictor, manned by 6 gunners, was manufactured by Vickers in England and was the equivalent of a computer which determined the direction and speed of travel of the enemy aircraft and the time of flight for the projectile fuse setting. This information was transmitted by coaxial cable to each of the four guns in the battery. Whilst the Predictor may have been a primitive computer it had to be kept on target visually by one operator following the 'line' and the other the 'elevation' (Southall, 1995: 10-1; Browning, 2010).

The gun stations were connected to the Headquarters in the Lithgow Drill Hall. Both were operational by the end of January 1942. Dummy gun emplacements, farms and other facilties were established around them.

The threat to Australia moved further north and the guns were removed during December 1943 and January 1944. The guns and their artillery crews are believed to have been shipped to islands off the northern coast of Australia. (Lithgow Mercury, 2003:1) The "hoax farm" buildings were auctioned off after 1945.

In 2003 three anti-aircraft guns of the type originally located at South Bowenfels and Scenic Hill were installed at Bowenfels, following their restoration. Works were then completed around the gun emplacements to facilitate public access to the site. (Lithgow Mercury, 2003:1)


There were over 100 static Anti Aircraft Gun Station sites for defence against air attack were established in Australia during World War Two. Approximately thirty were established in NSW, primarily along the coast between Port Kembla and Newcastle. By the end of 1940 Sydney had 36 anti-aircraft guns and a variety of other guns. Newcastle had 28 Anti-Aircraft guns and six others. Numerous additional guns had been added by 1943. Guns, searchlights and other facilities were located at places including Bankstown, Clemton Park, Beverly Hills, Moore Park, Rathmines North Stockton and Nobbys Head (Newcastle), and Port Kembla (Wollongong). Inland, east of the Blue Mountains, facilities were located at Freeman's Reach and Clarenden near Richmond. The Anti Aircraft sites at Lithgow were the only sites located west of the Blue Mountains (Robertson & Hindmarsh Vol 2, 2004-2006: 73-74)


The primary role of HAA artillery is defence against hostile aircraft flying at a height up to 35,000 ft (10,700 metres). During World War II the accuracy of bombing was limited to the skill of the aircrew and the higher the bombers were flying the less likely they would hit their target.

The main equipment of the Heavy Anti Aircraft artillery was the 3.7 inch Anti Aircraft gun which came in two versions, static and mobile. The main difference between the two types of gun was that the mobile has the outrigger legs and the static was bolted to the ground and had a large arm atop to counter the weight of the barrel being slightly further forward of the point of balance. It is believed that approximately 50 mobile units are known to survive in Australia. Only two static guns are known to remain.

The gun fired a 49 lb (22.2 kg) 3.7 inch (94 mm) round (shell weight 28 lb (12.7 kg) to an effective height of 25,000 ft (7,600 metres). The muzzle velocity was 2,670 ft/sec (814 m/sec). Maximum rate of fire was between 12 and 15 per minute.

The manning of units varied throughout the war but basically they consisted of a 4 gun sub-unit with command post. HAA guns were sited in fours, with a multi core cable from the predictor to each gun. This cable operated two dials (bearing and elevation) on the gun, and with time fuses, a fuse dial, each with an operator matching pointers.

The Command Post (CP) was manned by a Lieutenant, Gun Position Officer (GPO); a Sergeant, Gun Position Officer Assistant (GPOA); a telescope identification (TI) operator; a height finder (UB7) manned by three men; and the predictor manned by six men including a bombardier.

Each static gun had 11 personnel; one sergeant, one bombardier, nine gunners. Mobile guns had 9; the difference was that the static gun needed two men to load the shell, as the gun was too high for the method used with the mobiles, where a gunner punched the shell into the breach. The guns were located in revetments built to trunnion height and laid out in a shallow arc of about 90 degrees close to and easily seen from the Command Post.

At the end of World War Two all static guns were removed and only the mobile versions retained. Although Australia produced 600 static 3.7 inch guns of the type originally located at Lithgow, only two are known to remain today. Both are located at North Fort on North Head in Sydney. Surviving mobile guns at South Bowenfels are considered the largest collection of their type in NSW.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Defending the homeland-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Bowenfels and Scenic Hill Anti Aircraft Gun Stations and the Scenic Hill Dummy Anti Aircraft Gun Stations have state historical significance as an important part of the World War Two network of defences of Lithgow established during the War to defend the important mining, manufacturing and transport hub located there, in particular the Small Arms Factory. The construction of the stations and the associated dummy stations, farm and villages in the Lithgow area demonstrates the increased perception of the threat of the enemy to Australian inland industries and defence sites when Japan entered the war and concerns regarding Japan's ability to reach Australian shores. The establishment of the site represents a change in military defence policy connected with the changing course of the war, and a move from coastal defences to inland defences.

The Scenic Hill Dummy Anti Aircraft Gun Station, on which the dummy guns no longer exist, demonstrates not only a change in military defence policy connected with these events, but the desire to ensure that those facilities designed to defend Lithgow did not themselves become targets of the enemy.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Bowenfels Anti Aircraft Gun Station has significance to a broad section of the local community who participate in commemorative activities at the site, actively support its ongoing conservation and provide informal surveillance of the site.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The sites have considerable research potential at a state level in terms of the design, layout and construction of the type and in relation to their use as an inland anti-aircraft gun station and their relationship to other defence sites.
SHR Criteria f)
The anti aircraft gun stations and dummy anti aircraft gun station have state significance as the only known inland heavy anti-aircraft gun stations, and dummy gun station complexes of their type in inland NSW.
SHR Criteria g)
One of a series of World War Two anti aircraft defence sites developed in NSW from Newcastle to Port Kembla and of a limited number constructed inland from 1941.
Integrity/Intactness: The only changes to the gun stations have been the conservation and cleaning of the gun station at Bowenfels an installation of mobile heavy anti-aircraft guns there.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0186205 Aug 11 805165

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
World Wars 1 & 2, Survey of Buildings, Sites and Cultural Landscapes in NSW2006 Robertson & Hindmarsh P/L, Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Other 2010K.Browning. Pers Comm - July
WrittenColin Southall1995The Defence of Lithgow: under threat of invasion and air attack during the Second World War

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061196
File number: 10/04142

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