There were many tales about the Searchlight in the Quarry during World War 2 and the men who operated it, but it was not until the Froyle Archive Open Day in 2007 that we actually met Michael Holt, the son of the Sergeant in charge, Jim Holt (pictured right).
Michael was evacuated to Froyle and stayed at “The Prince of Wales”, remembering Claire Siddall whose story you can read in the Evacuees pages of this section. Michael was actually baptised at the age of six in St Joseph’s Church, the Tin Tabernacle at the corner of Well Lane opposite “The Prince of Wales”.
As to the searchlight itself, it was apparently a large item and technically advanced as it was radar controlled. It was set up as part of a line of three, the other two being situated in Bentley and Odiham. Michael does not know where the guns that worked with the searchlight were and, so far, we can find no further information, so if you can help, please let us know so we can increase our knowledge. Likewise we have no pictures of either the radar or searchlight itself, but the two pictures here give some idea of the equipment used. The radar (on the left) was very new technology indeed, which explains the story of how the ladies at Oak Cottage, which provided the ‘bathroom’ facilities for some of the soldiers, were amused at the men’s failure to get to grips with the gas geyser in the cottage! However, speaking with the present owners of Oak Cottage, who bought it in the 1960s when the geyser was still in use, operation of the device was certainly more of an art than a science!
The searchlight was, according to Michael, a very large device, possible a little like the one in the wartime picture on the right.
We do know where the site was constructed for, even today, the house built on the site of the encampment’s huts is called “Searchlight Cottage”. Nowadays, apart from the name, there is nothing left in that area of Froyle that recalls this important site for military technology.
The aerial pictures below show the location as it was in 1947 and about three or four years ago.
This photograph, taken in June 1947 by an aircraft from 82 Squadron RAF, just captures the edge of the Quarry - the next frame in the sequence is of fairly poor quality for some reason.
This frame, from Google Earth, shows the modern “Searchlight Cottage” and the Quarry. This picture dates back several years, as, since then, the quarry area has become much more overgrown.
A still from “1000 Years of Froyle” looking towards the Quarry from Lower Froyle in 1999.