Park Hall (Secret Decoy site)

View from the remains of the Control building ft. Rainbow

Park Hall is a popular country estate in Weston Coyney, Stoke on Trent. After reading a fascinating account of wartime deception in this very area I went to discover the location and have a look at what remains.

During the second world war and the bombing raids by the Luftwaffe, decoy sites were set up to distract German bombers away from the genuine targets which were fundamental to the war effort and make them drop their bombs in the wrong location. The site located on the top of Park Hall Hills was a decoy for the real aerodrome 2 miles at Meir (a site on which I now live – taken up today largely by Meir Park).

All that remains are the remnants of the ‘Control’ Building which are clearly still visible and identified by the large embanked earth structures at each side of the building.

The name `QL Site` denotes a site that was intended to create a night-time deception by the ingenious use of electrical lighting. On a typical QL Site dummy flare-paths were constructed and car headlamps were suspended on wires between supports to simulate aircraft moving on the ground. An array of low intensity lights were cleverly arranged to simulate lights carelessly left on in buildings and persons opening external doors without first switching the room lights off.

The actives were strictly top secret – no one would have known that this is what was going on ‘up the hills’ and most likely the residents of nearby Weston Coyney would not have been too thrilled that the German bombs were being lured closer to them.

As the threat of German air raids receded the site was eventually abandoned. As with many other sites around the country the control building was left in place. For generations of children it served as their imaginary fort or submarine, little guessing that it was once a part of the largest planned deception mounted in the British Isles.

Thinking of the war absolutely humbles me in countless ways. It’s astonishing to think of the genius of something so local that was such a simple, small part of the overall war effort but how absolutely crucial it could have been. Imagining a dark night over these hills during the war and the perils those German bombers bought with them, it must have been a terrifying time but one which everyone was literally in it together.

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