Over the years the buildings of Hook Norton Brewery have been used for a number of things other than Brew related.
It started with World War Two and soldiers being billeted in the Stables, and then with the threat of invasion the Malt House was earmarked as a food store. In later years the local Fire Brigade used the site for practice drills.
In the 1950′s the local 2207 Squadron Air Training Corps used the area above the present stables, now occupied by Thomas Franks offices, as a rifle range. They would proudly march down from the ATC hut with their -22 air rifles on their shoulders excitedly looking forward to having a go. Entry to the range was up a ladder and in a door where the flat is now located. Targets were set up down the end where there is now an entry staircase.
Bags of grain were laid across the floor and cadets would lie on the floor resting their rifle on the bags aiming towards the targets on the far end wall. Once the first cadet was ready to go the officer would issue the ammunition.
I’m told that one evening all was going to plan and cardboard targets were duly being peppered. Then just as a cadet was about to fire, a rat decided to run across the floor in front of the targets. Unable to resist the opportunity the cadet let off his round at the scurrying rodent instead of the target. Unfortunately, the bullet glanced off the floor and hit the electric panel, plunging the range into complete darkness!
It is not known if the rat survived nor is it recorded what the officer said to the cadet involved, he was more concerned with getting the dozen or so cadets with rifles safely down from the building in the dark! I’m told he still looked pretty pale when they got back to the ATC hut! Apparently Bill Clarke was OK about things as the cadets were allowed to continue to use the range.