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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1490048

Hob Uid: 1490048
Location :
Essex
Chelmsford
Great Baddow
Grid Ref : TL7273603878
Summary : A galvinised steel transmitter tower, approximately 360 feet high, with pairs of platforms at low, mid and high levels. Three of the platforms have timber flooring; the others have later 20th century steel mesh. The access ladder is later 20th century and in metal. Other later 20th century additions include a small hut and mobile phone antenna. The tower was constructed in 1937 and was originally one of three located at the Chain Home radar installation at Canewdon in south-east Essex, the other two towers having been demolished. The function of Chain Home was to detect large numbers of German aircraft, and played a crucial role on air defence during the Battle of Britain 1940. The tower is currently used by BAE systems.
More information : The tower, constructed in 1937, was originally one of three such structures located at the Chain Home radar installation at Canewdon in south-east Essex, the other two towers having been demolished. Canewdon provided long range early warning for the Thames estuary and the north eastern approaches to London and was one of the country's first 'Chain Home' stations to be established of which there were 21 covering the south and east coasts of the United Kingdom. The function of Chain Home was to detect large numbers of German aircraft, thus enabling British fighter planes to intercept them. They detected the advancing Luftwaffe in 1940, playing a crucial role in the air defence of the country during the Battle of Britain.

At the end of the war, an operational review of the Chain Home stations resulted in many being scrapped, including Canewdon, and there is very little surviving evidence of this former station now. At that time, Marconi were developing the radio guidance system for the Blue Streak missile and the tower was re-erected, ironically by a firm of German riggers it is said, at their radar research site at Great Baddow in 1956. The tower is currently in use by BAE Systems, who now own the site, and mobile phone companies.


A galvinised steel transmitter tower, approximately 360 feet high, with pairs of platforms at low, mid and high levels. Three of the platforms have timber flooring; the others have later twentieth century steel mesh. The access ladder is of later twentieth century and in metal. Other later twentieth century additions include a small hut and mobile phone antenna.

For buildings post-dating 1840, greater selection is required when considering designation. Owing to increased numbers of survivals of twentieth century military structures, often with standardised designs, rigorous application of the listing criteria is necessary.

Radar had been developed in secret during the 1930s at Bawdsey Manor amongst other sites, by such pioneers of the technology as Watson-Watts and Tizard. The World War II thematic survey identified Bawdsey Manor as the world's first radar station (1936) and the location of prototype structures subsequently used at the Chain Home establishments constructed in 1937-8 whose function was to detect large numbers of German aircraft. Without doubt, the use of radar and its deployment in the Chain Home system underpinned the successful air defence of Britain and helped secure victory in World War II. Surviving Chain Home structures, therefore, have considerable historic interest.

The siting of the Chain Home stations was of crucial importance to their successful operation. The specifications issued in 1936 required that a station should be well back from the coast, with a smooth slope between it and the sea, give good height and range finding and be inconspicuous from the air. Of the 21 Chain Home stations constructed, only 5 have retained any of their original towers, 2 of which are listed in grade II at RAF Stenigot, Lincolnshire and RAF Dunkirk, Kent. A third listed tower, at Bawdsey Manor, was demolished. Although those listed examples no longer survive to their full height, crucially they are in situ within their original Chain Home station and continue to be associated with other radar structures which are also designated. Thus they retain their military context and demonstrate more clearly the process by which radar was so successfully deployed, unlike the Great Baddow tower which represents one aspect of radar operation. Although largely intact, and a clear local landmark, unfortunately the tower has lost its context having been relocated several miles from its station. For a building type whose location was such a key component of its functionality, this greatly diminishes its special interest.

SOURCES
www.radarpages.co.uk
www.rafweb.org
www.marconiveterans.com (1)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : English Heritage Listing File
Source details : Ms S Gibson, HPA, 29th Octber 2007
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Mid 20th Century
Display Date : built 1937
Monument End Date : 1937
Monument Start Date : 1937
Monument Type : Radar Beacon
Evidence : Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : No List Case
External Cross Reference Number : 503982
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 70 SW 56
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :