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WW2 Radar Station - Canewdon


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Thought you might like to read about a Radar Station I've discovered close to my home in Rochford, Essex.

 

This radar site (Air Ministry Experimental Station Type 1) was sited on the edge of Canewdon village, it was the fourth to be built in Britain. The site comprised both a Receiving and Transmission site with four masts on each. One of it’s first operational tasks was to track Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s flight to Munich in September 1938.

Radar (Radio Direction and Ranging), which was to play such an important part in the defence of Britain during the Second World War, was developed amid great secrecy in the latter half of the 1930’s.

 

The site at Canewdon, completed in 1938, was one of the first to be established, along with Bawdsey, Great Bromley, Dunkirk (Kent) and Dover. By the outbreak of war in September 1939 it formed part of a network of 20 such ‘Chain Home’ stations protecting the east coast of Britain, stretching from Scotland to the Isle-of-Wight. The station was split into two halves, the Receiver Site, with four 240 foot timber towers, located north of Lambourne Hall Road, and the Transmitter Site, with four 350 foot steel towers, south of Gardeners Lane.

 

The layout of the Receiver Site can be partly determined from an aerial photograph taken in June 1960. The entrance was off Lambourne Hall Road between a pillbox, and a house, “Wild Winds”, both of which still survive. This led to a large L-shaped tract of land on the brow of the hill overlooking the valley of the River Crouch to the north. Approximately six buildings can be made out dotted across the site. In the centre is a large, rectangular, flat-roofed building, semi-sunken with a blast wall. This was undoubtedly the Receiver Block.

 

Unfortunately not too much of the original radar station remains, the receiver site has been completely cleared and the site is now an open field. No one would ever know that momentous events were once tracked from here. Three hundred yards to the south, the bunkers which held the transmitters are still there. The huge 360 ft steel towers are gone, although their base plates remain. Interestingly, one of the towers did escape the oxy-acetylene cutter. It was moved to Marconi at Great Baddow in the 1950s and now stands high above the Chelmsford skyline.

 

Hopefully I'll load up some photographs of what remians.

Edited by Grimmer
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Well done John. Did you get round it in your wheelchair? Hope you had the snow chains on, mate.

 

Looking forward to seeing the snaps.

 

JB is doing sterling work discovering really important bits of Essex which might be useful for a road road run route one of these years.

 

MB

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Photographs of a couple of pill box's on the site. The one with reinforcing bars sticking out of the roof is at the entrance to the receiver site, it use to have a brick structure on the top, similar to the one that remains on top of the other pill box which is close to the transmitter site.

 

There were once 22 pill box's protecting this important site and I've read that 11 still survive however, I could only see 4, that said I was exploring the site on crutches so I plan to return when I'm fully mobile.

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Unfortunately the transmitter building's that remain are all on private property so these were the best shot's I could get. They were against the light with my 300mm lens, think I need to take the old pro Snapper along and get him to whip out his big one!

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Edited by Grimmer
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  • 12 years later...

I remember the whole set-up as The Twinkly Lights from our Nursery window at Butlers farm Shopland.  Lots or red lights after dark to stop them being flown into by air traffic flying along the line of the Creek/River Roach.

Just like the war.  That part of the Creek points straight at London and hows up by moonlight.

Miles Edgar/  Bill's brother.

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