Rifle Range Halt
|Towards Kidderminster||Towards Shrewsbury|
via Foley Park Halt
The Rifle Range
The rifle range which gave the halt its name was situated on the open heathland near "The Devil's Spittleful" or "Spadeful", the large sandstone outcrop on the right just before the Safari Park as you travel towards Bewdley. It was apparently opened in August 1887 for the benefit of the members of the local corps of Rifle Volunteers. During the First World War it was used mainly by volunteers from the Yeomanry. Its location is shown on the extract from the Ordnance Survey Map of 1888-1929. The map of that time still referred to the railway between Kidderminster and Bewdley as the "Kidderminster Loop". A research project completed during 2012 and 2014, paid for out of public and HLF funds, includes a section on the Rifle Range (see 'Links' below).
The Halt was located immediately on the Kidderminster side of the Devil's Spittleful (Rifle Range) Bridge. Its construction at a cost of £145 was authorised by the GWR on 12 April 1905, and it opened in June of that year. An inspection by Major Pringle on behalf of the Board of Trade on 29 April found the shelter "not quite finished". It was initially served by a steam railmotor service which had begun in January 1905.
The halt was closed on 4 October 1920 and no traces of it remain today. Despite this closure, the area retained a military connection. In late 1943 two large hutted camps were built along nearby Burlish Top (the wooded area on top of the hill on the opposite side of the line from the Rifle Range). These held some 6-7000 American troops, the headquarters of the US Army VIII Corps (Dec 1943 to Apr 1944) and IX Corps (Apr 1944 to July 1944). During World War 2 the easterly part of the heathland became a tented camp used by the 297th U.S. Army Hospital. The area towards the west, between the Safari Park and the SVR, was also used for tank training.
Today the heathland area is a nature reserve, owned and managed by Wyre Forest District Council.
- Worcestershire Chronicle, quoted in SVR Forum 3 July 2019 (Retrieved 3 July 2019)
- Nature Reserve information boards
- Documents held by Shropshire Archives
- Marshall (1989) p. 92.
- Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
- The Burlish Camp and Rifle Range Heritage Projects 2012 and 2014 website.