Record Details

NHER Number:6799
Type of record:Monument
Name:RAF Trimingham

Summary

A radar station, RAF Trimingham, was established at this site by 1941 and remains in use today, albeit in a substantially modified form. It is likely to overlie an earlier beacon and telegraph station, both of which are marked on historic maps. During World War Two the site was used as a Coast Defence/Chain Home Low (M-Series) station, whose primary objective was to detect German submarines and low-flying aircraft. It later became a Chain Home Extra Low station and was also the site of an 'Oboe' station ('Oboe' was a navigational aid for bombers attacking the continent). None of the World War Two elements of the site are now visible on the ground, although traces may remain, and they have been mapped from aerial photographs. In the 1950s the site was remodelled as part of the ROTOR programme, at which time a large underground bunker was constructed. After closing in the 1960s the site was remodelled again and reopened in the late 1980s.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 2887 3833
Map Sheet:TG23NE
Parish:TRIMINGHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Medieval beacon site used in 1935.
Now bears radar station of World War Two comprising miles of underground tunnels.
Aerial demolished 1969.
E. Rose, 14 May 1978.

Press cuttings in secondary file.

It has been questioned whether the remaining aerials date from the War or were added afterwards.
Ref (S1) refers to 'four wooden pylons' being demolished, though this might refer to NHER 32538.
E. Rose, 12 May 1998.

A pillbox on the south slope of the hill is a modern feature erected with the geodesic dome in 1997.
This pillbox is in fact one of the important Cold War defences mentioned below.
Telegraph staion marked here on (S3).
E. Rose (NLA), 2 May 2001 and 29 November 2005.

2001.
Cold War MPP assessment identifies this as a site of national importance, and it is to be listed or scheduled.
See file for details and report on CD ROM.
D. Gurney (NLA), 27 December 2001.

November 2004. Norfolk NMP.
As a result of NMP mapping the central grid reference of the site has been altered from TG 288 383 to TG 2885 3830.

The radar station described above is visible on aerial photographs taken between 1942 and 2002. No traces of the earlier beacon and telegraph station, depicted on historic maps (S2-3), have been identified, and there is no sign of military activity on aerial photographs taken in 1940 (S6). The radar station, CD/CHL station M65 (S4), was established by late 1941 (NMR TG 23 NE 52; S5). It was also used as an 'Oboe' station, one of six such sites in the country (NMR TG 23 NE 52; S5). This was operational from December 1942 (S7). By the end of the war the site was furnished with a CHEL radar tower. The World War Two site was centred around, and probably made use of, a pre-existing house, Beaconhill House, located at TG 2886 3831 and depicted on historic Ordnance Survey maps (S8). Some of the elements of the World War Two site have been described elsewhere (S7) and alternative interpretations for a number of the structures have been put forward.

The earliest consulted aerial photographs of the radar station were taken in June 1942 (S9). At this date it consisted primarily of a collection of buildings, including a probable transmitter/receiver block at TG 2890 3835 which had what looks like a gantry or mast mounted on its roof. Three plinths for an aerial mast are also visible, centred at TG 2885 3830; the mast itself is not visible and was presumably under construction at this date. (There appears to have been only one mast at the site during World War Two. The mast is the one described above which was demolished in 1969. The 'four wooden pylons' mentioned above were at Stoke Holy Cross (NHER 32538); other aerials were added to the site in the Cold War period). Later aerial photographs (S10) indicate that a long, curved profile building, visible in 1942, at TG 2889 3833 was painted with camouflage paint, although this may have happened at a later date. A pillbox of unknown type is visible on the 1942 photographs at TG 2877 3831. It is surrounded by freshly disturbed ground and was likely to have been constructed recently. It has been mapped as a circular structure but could have been polygonal in plan. It was removed by 1946, when the next available aerial photographs were taken. Both parts of the site (i.e. on each side of the Trimingham-to-Mundesley road) appear to have been partially surrounded by barbed wire at this date. There is also a possible slit trench at the north-east corner of the site (at TG 2900 3839), although this does not appear to be a fresh earthwork and may be associated with pre-existing coastal defences, such as the nearby gun emplacement (part of NHER 38969). To the west a rather enigmatic site (NHER 38934) was in use at this date and may have been associated with the radar station, although other interpretations (i.e. that it was a Royal Navy 'Y' service station) have been put forward.

By 1946 a number of new elements had been added to the site and the mast is now clearly visible (S11). Amongst the buildings the most striking addition is a curved-profile (or possibly polygonal-profile, S7) structure surrounded by a blast wall at TG 2896 3832. It has been interpreted as the probable site of the 'Oboe' station (S7); if this interpretation is correct the transmitter gantry which would have once straddled the hut had been removed by this date. Two small structures of unknown function are visible by the eastern limit of the site (around TG 2900 3835); a structure visible on the cliff face at approximately TG 2900 3837 on aerial photographs taken in 1953 (S12) could be the eroded remains of one of these. (Roger Thomas of English Heritage has suggested they might be some form of mobile, reserve equipment). The site had also been provided with a number of gun emplacements and/or weapons pits by 1946, together with at least two spigot mortar positions (at TG 2893 3838 and TG 2887 3829). Many of these features are still visible on later aerial photographs (e.g. S10, S12-5). Four square pits, arranged in a square around TG 2890 3836, are visible on aerial photographs taken in 1952 (S15). These have been interpreted as the site of a gantry visible on a photograph taken in 1946 (S7). Although the two southernmost pits may be visible, possibly as structures (S11), no gantry is visible on the material from that year consulted as part of the NMP.

The post-World War Two history of the site has been outlined by Cocroft (S7), and is also evident on aerial photographs taken from 1952 onwards. In particular, photographs taken in 1952 (S15) show the construction of the underground bunker (the 'tunnels' described above) during the station's renovation under the ROTOR scheme. Its new layout is visible on photographs from 1953 (S12). Photographs from 1988 (S16) show a later modification in progress, while those from 2002 show the modern layout and geodesic dome (S17). During this period the World War Two features at the site appear to have been destroyed (partly through the construction of the bunker and other modifications, partly through coastal erosion). It is possible, however, that some elements may survive as buried features while some of the concrete pads at the site (TG 23 NE 52; S5) might date from World War Two.
(S2-17)
S. Tremlett (NMP), 10 November 2004.

December 2004. Norfolk NMP.
Having looked at high-resolution scans of aerial photographs of the site taken in 1942 (S9), 1946 (S11) and 1949 (S14), but only one frame from each, Roger Thomas (English Heritage) was able to provide the following information:

Small areas of disturbed ground visible on the 1942 aerial photographs at approximately TG 2897 3832, TG 2899 3831, TG 2892 3838 and TG 2892 3837 are probably weapons pits for anti-aircraft light machine guns. The last of these might correspond with the possible spigot mortar emplacement mapped to its north-east; the others were not mapped as they are relatively insubstantial and might be caused by other types of disturbance. He has confirmed that the building described above, visible at TG 2890 3835, is an 'M' Series CD/CHL Transmitter/Receiver Block. The building visible to its east, at TG 2893 3834, is the CD/CHL Stand-by Set House (Generator Room). The band of dark vegetation around the edge of both the field surrounding Beaconhill House and the triangular field to its north may reflect the presence of a minefield as well as the barbed wire mapped by the NMP. Disturbed ground at TG 2887 3824 may indicate the presence of a slit trench or other defensive feature. Overall, the appearance of the site, such as the use of Nissen huts (the curved-profile huts described above) reflects the presence of the Army, who were originally responsible for the CD/CHL stations.

On the 1946 aerial photograph he notes the presence of weapons pits at approximately TG 2892 3836, TG 2890 3825 and TG 2887 3829. All but the first were mapped by NMP; the location of the third corresponds with a probable spigot mortar emplacement. A structure, also mapped, at the far north-west corner of the site (TG 2881 3848) is a pillbox. He has confirmed that the hut surrounded by a blast wall (a 24-ft span Nissen hut visible at TG 2896 3832) is probably the 'Oboe' transmitter. A small rectangular building adjacent to the road at TG 2887 3835 is a picket post. The radar mast erected next to Beaconhill House is a 200-ft Type-54 Mk.1 (K-Type) Chain Home Extra Low (CHEL) steel radar tower. The Type-54 radar replaced the earlier army 'M' series system; it was operated by the RAF, a fact reflected by developments such as the picket post at the gate. The structure immediately to its east is a 24-ft span Nissen hut used as the CHEL Transmitter/Receiver Block. Of the two buildings immediately to the east again, the northernmost is the Stand-by Set House, the southernmost the latrines. A small hut to the south, at TG 2887 3826, is another Nissen hut, probably a rest hut used by the army guard detachment.
Information from Roger Thomas (English Heritage).
S. Tremlett (NMP), 1 December 2004.

January 2007.
A first hand account of the station’s ‘great discs’ (receivers?) visible enough to be used as a landmark by German aircraft, is given in Brettingham 2006 (S18).
S. Tremlett (NLA), 3 January 2007.

Monument Types

  • BEACON (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TELEGRAPH STATION (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • RADAR STATION (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BARBED WIRE OBSTRUCTION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BLAST WALL (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • CHAIN HOME EXTRA LOW STATION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • COAST DEFENCE CHAIN HOME LOW STATION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • GUARDHOUSE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • GUN EMPLACEMENT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • LIGHT ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MINEFIELD (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • NISSEN HUT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • RADAR BEACON (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • RADAR STATION (World War Two to Cold War - 1939 AD to 1992 AD)
  • SLIT TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SPIGOT MORTAR EMPLACEMENT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • STAND BY SET HOUSE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TRANSMITTER SITE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • WEAPONS PIT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BUNKER (Cold War - 1945 AD to 1992 AD)
  • PILLBOX (Cold War - 1945 AD to 1992 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2006. Delay to radar probe findings. 27 July.
---Article in serial: Brettingham, L.. 2006. Mundesley's Secret War.. NIAS Journal. Vol. 8, no. 1, pp 53-58. p 54.
---Unpublished document: Yardley, C.J.. 2011. The Mun Valley: Historic landscape Assessment and Landscape Character Assessment for Norfolk Coast Project.. p 14.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Trimingham.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. The leaning tower of… Trimingham. 8 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Villagers get tunnel vision. 3 October.
<S1>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Relief when pylon finally fell (letter to the editor). 12 May.
<S2>Publication: Faden, W. and Barringer, J. C. 1989. Faden's Map of Norfolk in 1797.
<S3>Map: Bryant, A.. 1826. Bryant's Map of Norfolk.
<S4>Monograph: Dobinson, C.S.. 2000. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England. Volume VII 2. Acoustics and Radar. Appendices.. p 168.
<S5>Monograph: Cocroft, W.. 2001. Cold War Monuments: An Assessment by the Monuments Protection Programme..
<S6>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1940. NMR TG 2838/1 (MSO 31020 26/BR14/12 4890) 19-SEP-1940.
<S7>Unpublished document: Cocroft, W.D.. 1998. RAF Trimingham, Norfolk (English Heritage/RCHME unpublished survey report)..
<S8>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902 to 1907. Ordnance Survey second edition 25 inch (1902 to 1907) Sheet XX. 2. 25" to 1'.
<S9>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF AC/59 61-2 19-JUN-1942 (NMR).
<S10>Oblique Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1949. NMR TG 2838/14-5 (RAF 30195 541/347 PSFO-0001-2) 17-AUG-1949.
<S11>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 2132-4 27-JUN-1946 (Norfolk SMR TG 2937A, TG 2837B & TG 2838A).
<S12>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1953. RAF 58/1140 0124-5 18-JUN-1953 (NMR).
<S13>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1949. RAF 541/390 4104-5 10-NOV-1949 (NMR).
<S14>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1949. NMR TG 2838/17 (RAF 30195 541/347 (PSFO) 0006) 17-AUG-1949.
<S15>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1952. RAF 540/690 5108-9 11-MAR-1952 (NMR).
<S16>Vertical Aerial Photograph: BKS. 1988. BKS 4102-3 01-OCT-1988 (NCC 5464-5).
<S17>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Environment Agency. 2002. EA 040 AF/02C/339 6957-8 22-JUL-2002 (EA).

Related records - none

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