The End of Leighton Battery
9 September 1954 – During WW2, magazines were constructed at Leighton to store ammunitions and equipment for use with the 6in gun but these magazines are not suitable for use with the present 5.25inch equipment. A request for an engineer survey was made to determine whether or not the existing magazines can be improved to cater for the 5.25 or if new magazines should be constructed (NAA: K1214, 30/9/01 PART 2).
16 August 1954 – Training in the operation, care and maintenance of Coast Artillery Searchlights is made difficult by the lack of searchlight emplacements available in which the equipment can be installed. It was proposed to construct one within the Leighton camp site so training could be carried out (NAA: K1214, 30/9/01 PART 2). In the meantime, a projector is set up in the battery lines to provide a facility for training personnel (The Coast Defences of Western Australia).
11-12 March 1955 – A two-day training shoot involves a number of National Service personnel. Delays were experienced due to a number of fishing boats entering the danger zone, despite advertisements in the press setting out the zones of fire. The need to stop traffic on Stirling Highway for short periods of training ensured there were many complaints about long delays to the flow of traffic (The Coast Defences of Western Australia).
21 September 1955 – The State Housing Commission is proposing to build three-storey flats on Marmion Street, directly opposite the Victoria Street Railway Station with a total height of 38 feet. In their communications to the Western Command Headquarters, the Commission sought advice as to whether or not it would cause an obstruction to sight lines from the Leighton Battery installations (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
21 October 1955 – Local councils and the Commonwealth Government are opposing the construction of The State Housing Commission’s proposed three-storey flat development. The Road Board is considering closing the Victoria Street Railway Crossing to build a subway from Stirling Highway starting from the Rope Works site (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
3 November 1955 – The Department of Army detail how the proposed flats could be a detriment to both the Army’s requirements and future tenants. Particularly as the flats are in close proximity to the rock strata which lies underneath the Leighton Battery, past gun firing practices have sent shockwaves travelling through the rock strata, damaging the Rope Works, Cable Station Terminal and houses at the rear of the Battery on Boundary Road. This already has caused a restriction of the gun’s zones and firing practices, resulting in a loss of certain aspects of training. Further restrictions would be expected, as well as the risk of damage to windows and brickworks to the flats if it was to proceed with construction (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
9 December 1955 – The State Housing Commission have decided not to proceed with the Marmion Street flat development (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
23 December 1955 – A crane is to be hired on 3-4 January and 13th and 16th January 1956 to load searchlights onto the trucks. It is expected to take about three hours on each of the four days (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
27 January 1956 - A recommendation is put forward to remove three buildings that are deemed unimportant. Building No.33 consists of an 8x6” shed with damaged walls. The other two buildings located in the fort area are not listed on the Register of Assets and is believed to be owned by the Department of Works, who disown ownership. One building is a “total wreck” and the other isn’t required. It’s concluded that all three buildings should be dismantled and used as salvage (NAA: K283, W259/1/14)
7 December 1956 – The flat pitched skillion roof of the Officers’ mess is noted as causing the rafters to sag, due to its light construction. Built from heavily corroded iron, the roof has been leaking. A request is made to re-roof the building with a pitched roof, at a cost of £1,125 (NAA: K283, W259/1/14).
6 February 1957 – An urgent request is made for the guttering around the emplacement guns to be replaced as water is entering freely through the space between the circular gun and the trip edge of the emplacement. The water ultimately flows into the engine room and is likely to cause damage NAA: K283, W259/1/14).
25 July 1957 – An alternative OP is requested to be erected some 8000-1,000 yards east of the Leighton Battery position with a Depression Position Finder installed therein (NAA: K283, W259/1/14).
30 July 1957 – Recommendations is made to dispose of the duties of picquets. They were originally required at Leighton Battery as a security measure when the unit was formed in 1952 at a time when the camp and battery areas were not deemed secure. All of the buildings have since been made fully secure and the married quarters are now occupied by the BQMS. Whilst employed to secure the grounds on a 24-hour basis, it is stated that they are no longer required after normal working hours (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
9 August 1957 – Interestingly, the security of the camp’s administrative area is seen as reasonably satisfactory despite:
The entrance to each gun position is barred by the presence of a lock on the hasp and stable of the steel door.
The entrance to the control room is barred by a rather antiquated padlock
The picquet doesn’t visit the battery after 11.30pm – 8.00am
Flood lights are turned on by the picquet as soon as it becomes dark and inspects the area once at that time and between 11.30pm
Locks on the gun position and control room doors could be forced open with a crowbar within a matter of minutes, stealing valuable electrical equipment which are potential irreplaceable
The doors of the gun positions are located at the bottom of the concrete steps and are not illuminated by the flood lights.
Gun position and control room main entrance doors are to be locked from the inside with a small safe-type door cut into the main door to provide for a double type key safe lock or combination lock. Entrance into this could only be gained by blowing, cutting with an oxy-acetylene torch or burglary by an expert safe-breaker.
Picquets should then be relieved from duty during the weekdays but to be on duty during weekends and public holidays. The floodlights should be turned on by a cadre member occupying the Married Quarters.
An inspection by a picquet should be arranged at least once every night between 11.30pm – 6.00am (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
14 August 1957 – A request is put forward for the Officers & Sergeants Mess Building to be altered or renovated, despite this being uneconomical. The building is mostly used during the Annual Camp that takes place at the Battery where at least 30 members attend. The biggest complaint is the insulation of the room, due to the summer seasons being unbearably hot and winter being very cold.
According to the ‘D’ Series scales and type plan entitlements, a standard plan for 10 officers provides for a single mess room of 320² with space for a bar. For Sergeants, the entitlement is an area of approximately 640 sq. ft. which can consist of a single room or a separate dining and ante rooms.
Currently the officer’s mess which contains a separate dining and ante room covers a space of 818 feet whilst the sergeants’ mess is 420². It is proposed that the officers swap mess buildings with the sergeants and a new entrance porch and bar should be added to the new sergeant’s mess at a cost of £245 (NAA: K283, W259/1/14).
20 August 1957 – It is decided that whilst a picquet will not be removed from duty, a night watchman could be employed. For the time being, a picquet will continue to be employed nightly, at weekends and on public holidays with at least one inspection of the entire battery between sunset and midnight and another during midnight and sunset at irregular times (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
25 August 1957 – The Australian Watching Co (WA) Pty Ltd submits a Schedule of Operations, following a phone conversation they receive from the Department of Army requesting a quote and information:
4 visits per night
2 visits per Saturday afternoon
4 visits during daylight hours
All visits made during irregular times throughout the week
$100 indemnity against breaking and entering
The patrolman would enter the area and physically check all doors and windows, test the security of all locked sheds and storehouses as well as patrol the area surrounding the perimeter,
Challenge all persons, arrest those lawfully on premises and obtain name and addresses of trespassers
All members employed by the Watching company are ex CIB staff and as such, are trained security officers (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).
25 September 1957 – A change of location for the Radar & Control equipment detachment of Western Command Workshops is proposed from the Fremantle Barracks to Leighton Battery (NAA: K283, W259/1/14).
29 October 1957 – The proposal to move the radar repair section from Fremantle barracks to Leighton Battery is approved (NAA: K283, W259/1/14).
19 November 1958 – All gun and control room doors have now been fitted with safe type locks (NAA: K1215, W82/2/1).