Following recent work to digitise a family photo album shown to us by Dionis Macnair a couple of photos with their captions jumped out.
They were photos of the Ladies Rifle Club shooting at Shappen Bottom in 1913. They show 3 ladies firing off along the rifle range one of whom was Dionis’ mum Eleanor Ruth Dent. The two other ladies are Cathy Thompson and Mary Violet Dent; Eleanor’s mother.
The rifle range does not feature on the 1943 training map of the New Forest and is not mentioned in reference to the three Rifle Volunteer Corps ranges that can be found in the New Forest at Brockenhurst, Burley and Lyndhurst.
A quick bit of research with historic maps available from the National Library of Scotland shows the range in use, but recorded as ‘Old Rifle Range’ on the 1870 Ordnance Survey Map, it is marked as disused by the 1896 edition and doesn’t feature on the 1907 edition at all even though these photos from 1913 show it still in use.
Looking at the Lidar it is possible to see some disturbed ground near the firing off point, but not much else.
The fact that this small range fired across tracks and its location, and lack of link to the Rifle Volunteer Corps or later military training suggests that this was more of a local community range potentially used for training for deer shooting or similar.
We currently believe these are the oldest known photos of one of the New Forest rifle ranges in use. However, please let us know of any older photos from any of the other ranges.
Further articles on New Forest Knowledge relating to Dionis McNair and her mother Eleanor Ruth Dent
- The Chronicles of the Belgians – Eleanor Ruth Dent
- Shappen Bottom Rifle Range at Burley – Eleanor Ruth Dent
- Memories of growing up in WWII – Dionis MacNair
- Dionis Macnair Photo Album – 7th Division and Mountain Batteries
- Dionis Macnair Photo Album – Blackmoor Convalescent Home
- Forest Figures: Eleanor Ruth Dent