From January 1940 onwards, an elaborate decoy strategy designed to protect urban areas from aerial bombardment was planned and implemented. Over the course of the next 18 months or so no fewer than 602 such sites were built. There were four types of decoy - dummy aerodromes (K and Q sites), diversionary fires (QF and Starfish), simulated urban lighting (QL sites) and dummy factories and buildings. The QF diversionary site at Black Down is one of the few that wasn't totally eradicated after the end of the Second World War.
|Control Bunker - Black Down QF Site|
Black Down is the highest point in the Mendip Hills, offering a spectacular view of the Chew Valley. It is close to Cheddar (BS40 7XU / OS Grid: ST 470564) and the QF site can be accessed via a steep path adjacent to Tynings Farm. The site, which formed part of Bristol's defences, operated in tandem with a QL simulated lighting system and Z anti-aircraft rocket battery to the south. The western control bunker is on top of the hill at the end of the steep access path leading up from the farm. It's not possible to get inside but most of the structure is clearly visible, including the blast wall protecting the main entrance.
|Tynings Farm and the site of the QL decoy beyond|
After a couple of hundred yards beyond the western control bunker (from which both the QF and the QL sites could be triggered) at the top of the access path turn right and walk up towards the trig point on the summit of the hill. The landscape in front of you is punctuated by channels and mounds which, in war time, supported various materials and devices for simulating a city on fire. One can also discern firebreak trenches which enclosed emplacements used for simulating burning building.
|Old military road up to the trig point|
|Simulated Bristol Targets|
|Bronze Age Bowl Barrow|
At the trig point on Beacon Batch there are a number of Bronze Age burial barrows of which two are particularly prominent (see picture above). From this point look east towards the two masts. The QL site mimicking Bristol's Eastern Depot was situated in that area. There is a second control bunker to the south of this spot on the southern boundary of the Black Down designated site.