HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV50874
Name:RAF Beer Head

Summary

The Second World War radar station of RAF Beer Head is visible on aerial photographs of 1941 to 1946 as a range of structures and earthworks extending over South Down Common, south of Beer, enclosed by a double barbed wire entanglement. By 1996 all above ground structures have been removed but the cracked concrete bases of several levelled buildings remain visible on aerial photographs of 2012 and in the field.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 222 881
Map Sheet:SY28NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBeer
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBEER AND SEATON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 1413132
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY28NW/93

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RADAR STATION (World War II - 1941 AD to 1945 AD (Between))

Full description

Freer, D, 04/2006, South Down Common, Beer Head, Devon (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV359552.

A geophysical survey, using magnetometry, was conducted on three discrete areas on South Down Common, Beer Head, Devon. The purpose was to assess the archaeological potential of the location and to address concerns of erosion as part of a larger fieldwork project, this survey being part of the initial process.

Feature 5 and 9
These features of very high and low anomalies would appear to be the remains of the perimeter fence of the WWII radar station that was north-east of the survey plot. The position of the perimeter fence is confirmed from aerial photographs (RAF, 13/4/46, 3208, 106G/UK, 1412). These features do not appear on the earthwork survey.


Royal Air Force, 1941, RAF/1416/S386H52, NMR SY 2287/2 RAF 31233/PO-54 09-AUG-1941 (Aerial Photograph). SDV355849.

The presence of the radar station can be confirmed.


Royal Air Force, 1942, RAF/HLA/521, RAF/HLA/521 6095-6096 4-MAY-1942 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356302.

The presence of the radar station can be confirmed.


Royal Air Force, 1946, 106G/UK/1412, 3198-9, 3207-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV336108.

Other details: HER 39/80-83.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1412, RAF/106G/UK/1412 3198-3199 13-APR-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV352504.

The radar station is visible in its final form. Map object based partly on this source.


Royal Air Force, 1948, RAF/CAL/UK/16, SY 2188/10 RAF 30099/0038 07-MAY-1948 (Aerial Photograph). SDV352650.

The radar station barbed wire perimeter, buildings and the footings of the AMES Type 54 mast remain visible as structures. Map object based partly on this source.


Horner, B., 1993, Beer Head Radar Station (Personal Comment). SDV336122.

Naval/military site visible on RAF 1946 aerial photos. Irregular area enclosed by double wire fence. Contains a small number of buildings and a transmitter/receiver block. Appears to be WWII in origin. Possibly wartime enhancement of signal station PRN 11097. Not marked on 1906 or 1963 6 inch Ordnance Survey maps. This site could possibly be a Chain Home Extra Low radar site. There is a single transmitter mast visible on the 1946 aerial photo.


Horner, W., 1995, Radar Station, South Down Common (Worksheet). SDV356918.

Probable Chain Home Low Station, supplementing No 13 Radar Station at Branscombe. An irregular compound enclosed by double wire fence. Contains a group of huts, mostly standard type but also some curved. Single large transmitter/receiver block in centre of compound with tall four-footed tower to its north-east. 1992 Aerofilms aerial photograph indicated surviving hut platforms and rubble at that date.


Taylor, B., 1997, Radar Station, South Down Common (Worksheet). SDV336127.

Site visits on 14th June 1996 and 13th June 1997. Now only rubble and hut platforms remain. Photos show apparatus/mast plinths.


Dobinson, C. S., 2000, Acoustics and radar, 164, 172 (Report - non-specific). SDV325097.

Radar station 13A, Beer Head. Chain Home Low Radar station. Operational in 1941. Also a Chain Home Extra Low (k series, K165) station operational in 1942.


Channel Coast Observatory, 2001-2012, Channel Coast Observatory Aerial Photography, Channel Coastal Observatory SY2288_20120917ortho.ecw 17-SEP-2012 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351226.

The cracked bases or foundations of the radar structures remain visible.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No. 2804 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Radar Station.
SMR.


Exeter Archaeology, 2004, East Devon AONB Archaeological Survey. Beer Head and Berry Camp (Report - non-specific). SDV347613.

The remains of a number of structures were identified during a field visit. These include five rectangular structures, two rectangular mounds and several concrete bases and aerial anchor blocks.


Gledhill, J.S., 2006, Royal Air Force Beer Head, 2, 7 (Report - non-specific). SDV347426.

No complete buildings remain at Beer Head, but many foundations are still visible, and it has been possible to verify their use from a 1944 60 Group Drawing (plan of site layout).


Passmore, M. + Passmore, A., 2011, Royal Air Force Air-Defence Radar Station Beer Head, 2-3 (Leaflet). SDV347301.

Beer Head was a Chain Home Low station, established in 1941, located on South Down Common, which records indicate also carried out a Chain Home Extra Low role for which a Type 54 radar was installed. Traces of its concrete footings can still be seen. The remains of other structures can also be indentified, such as the base of the former orderly room, the concrete platform of gunners' quarters and the base of an IFF ' identification friend or foe' cabin.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2013-2014, South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV351146.

The Second World War radar station of RAF Beer Head is visible on aerial photographs of 1941 to 1946 as a range of structures and earthworks extending over approximately 6 hectares of South Down Common, south of Beer. The 1941 and 1942 aerial photographs are not of sufficient clarity to show details of the early site’s composition but enough is visible to confirm the station was in-situ. In April 1946 the perimeter of the site was defined by a double barbed wire entanglement although due to vegetation cover this is only partially traceable on the eastern limit of the site and only a single linear obstruction can be recorded on the north-eastern corner. The route of the barbed wire remains clearly visible on military oblique aerial photographs of 1948, as do the substantial earthwork embanked and blast wall protected radar set houses.
The layout of the station corresponds largely with that reproduced by Gledhill in 2006 (SDV347426) with a few exceptions. For instance, of all the radars installed only the 200 foot tall tower of the AMES Type 54 radar remains visible in 1946. The layout of the Chain Home Low AMES type 2 radar structures (centred at circa SY 22298821) also differs slightly from the plan. In particular the AMES Type 2 aerial gantry cannot be seen and the standby generator block, depicted on Gledhill’s plan between the Chain Home Extra Low transmitter/receiver/operations room and the Chain Home Low transmitter/receiver/operations room, is drawn as a rectangular structure substantially smaller than the transmitter/receiver block to the south-west. The structure visible on the aerial photograph immediately to the north-east of the Chain Home Low transmitter/receiver/operations room is visible as a substantial pyramidal earth embanked square structure. However, it is unclear if this is due to the stylised nature of the plan or a real alteration in the site’s layout.
Four small slit trenches are visible beyond the barbed wire perimeter to the south of the radar station proper, overlooking the Hooken cliffs above Little Beach. It is possible these were dug for lookout or machine gun positions. Three roughly circular earthwork platforms roughly correspond with the gun positions on Geldhill’s plan and might have been Light Anti-aircraft Artillery machine gun positions and two circular pits within the enclosure might also have served similar functions.
All above ground structures have now been removed but the foundations or bases of several structures, including the gunner’s quarters, orderly room and both-final phase transmitter/receiver/operations blocks remain visible as structures on digital images derived from aerial photographs taken in 2012, albeit in poor condition.


Pink, F., 2014-2015, South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment (Interpretation). SDV357736.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325097Report - non-specific: Dobinson, C. S.. 2000. Acoustics and radar. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England. VII. A4 Stapled + Digital. 164, 172.
SDV336108Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. 106G/UK/1412. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3198-9, 3207-8.
SDV336122Personal Comment: Horner, B.. 1993. Beer Head Radar Station. Not Applicable.
SDV336127Worksheet: Taylor, B.. 1997. Radar Station, South Down Common. Defence of Britain Project. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV347301Leaflet: Passmore, M. + Passmore, A.. 2011. Royal Air Force Air-Defence Radar Station Beer Head. A Brief Introduction to Twentieth Century Military and Civil Defence Archae. 33. A4 Folded + digital. 2-3.
SDV347426Report - non-specific: Gledhill, J.S.. 2006. Royal Air Force Beer Head. A4 Stapled + Digital. 2, 7.
SDV347613Report - non-specific: Exeter Archaeology. 2004. East Devon AONB Archaeological Survey. Beer Head and Berry Camp. Exeter Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV351146Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2013-2014. South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV351226Aerial Photograph: Channel Coast Observatory. 2001-2012. Channel Coast Observatory Aerial Photography. Channel Coast Observatory. Digital. Channel Coastal Observatory SY2288_20120917ortho.ecw 17-SEP-2012.
SDV351568Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 2804.
SDV352504Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1412. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/106G/UK/1412 3198-3199 13-APR-1946.
SDV352650Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1948. RAF/CAL/UK/16. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). SY 2188/10 RAF 30099/0038 07-MAY-1948.
SDV355849Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1941. RAF/1416/S386H52. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR SY 2287/2 RAF 31233/PO-54 09-AUG-1941.
SDV356302Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1942. RAF/HLA/521. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/HLA/521 6095-6096 4-MAY-1942.
SDV356918Worksheet: Horner, W.. 1995. Radar Station, South Down Common. Defence of Britain Project. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV357736Interpretation: Pink, F.. 2014-2015. South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV359552Report - Geophysical Survey: Freer, D. 04/2006. South Down Common, Beer Head, Devon. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV11097Related to: Admiralty Flag Signal Station, Beer Head (Monument)
MDV39951Related to: Beer, Military Building (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5183 - Assessment of Berry Camp and Beer Head
  • EDV6127 - Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme (NMP) for South-West England - South Coast Devon (Ref: ACD618)
  • EDV6948 - Geophysical Survey, South Down Common, Beer Head, Devon

Date Last Edited:Mar 24 2017 2:57PM