The Metropolitan Rifle Range Company Ltd.

Military prowess depends on constant training to preserve efficiency and accuracy of it’s front line members. This requires secure areas where troops can practice safe live firing away from the presence of the general public. Although finding land is relatively easy in rural areas, sites in the major cities are more difficult to find.

In London following the closure of the rifle range on Wimbledon Common, the Metropolitan Rifle Range Company was formed in 1890 to find a suitable replacement site for the Metropolitan Volunteers. In 1892 the Company opened a rifle range called the Runemede or Runnymede Range. This was situated on Staines Moor on land belonging to Yeoveney Farm as can be seen on the 1920 map below.

The range comprised of approximately 1000 acres of flat land bordered by a river and marsh land, with a concrete wall protecting the road. Although relatively safe, both the London & South Western and Great Western Railways lines ran adjacent to the property. Firing had to cease during haymaking and this was ultimately to be part of it’s downfall, eventually being considered a danger to railway travellers. To provide transport to the ranges, a simple station was opened by the Staines & West Drayton Railway and known as Runnymede Range. The halt was not originally shown in timetables and a request had to be made for a train to stop here. It was renamed Runemede Halt on 9 July 1934 and again renamed Yeoveney Halt on 4 November 1935. This latter change was to deter tourists seeking where the Magna Carta was signed, some six miles away. It closed on 14 May 1962, due to the deterioration of the platform, shortly before the 1965 closure of the rest of the branch.

In 1913, the range lost the firing rights over a considerable portion of the area reducing it’s effectiveness. It was therefore closed for Regular troops around that time, although it was used occasionally during the First World War. The company itself which was originally registered in 1890 was unused for a long time, but was only dissolved in the 1930s.

The shortage of practice ranges was eventually solved by the construction of extensive ranges at Rainham at a cost in money of at that time of around £145,000.

The site of the Runnymede rifle range and Yeoveney Farm have now all been lost under the Wraysbury Reservoir, whilst the location of Runemede Halt is very close to the east embankment of the M4.