Record Details

NHER Number:31786
Type of record:Monument
Name:Barrow Common World War Two radar station

Summary

The concrete shed, underground concrete chamber and radio mast footings of a World War Two radar station can be seen on aerial photographs of this area. Close by is a World War Two slit trench which may have been for defence or practice manoeuvres.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TF 7905 4336
Map Sheet:TF74SE
Parish:BRANCASTER, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Barrow Common. Apparent radar site.
On north crest of hill. Concrete shed of three rooms, with iron framed windows, aligned east west. Still marked on (S1). To east at right angles, half sunken concrete chamber. Door in east wall now has direct access by sloping ground to west, but original access was by flight of steps on south side to trench along south and west sides. On north, vertical ladder to ground level. Interior has row of rectangular recesses around walls below roof and contains two large concrete bases, resembling those at Salthouse radar station (NHER 23386). In 1952 R. R. Clarke (NCM) referred to 'legs of old radio location station' (see NHER 1363) but area to southwest now densely overgrown.
E. Rose (NLA), 23 February 1996.

January 2001. NMP.
In addition to the two structures recorded at this site, four circular structures can be seen at TF 7907 4332 on 1946 aerial photographs (S2 and S3), which represent the footings for the radar mast. They are located about 90m southeast of the structures. About 35m east of the two structures a small section of zig zag shaped slit trench can be seen (TF 7905 4339) on the 1946 aerial photographs. This may have been a defensive feature or possibly a practice trench.
A. Hunt (NMP), 26 January 2001.

August 2009.
From 1940 to 1944 this site was manned as a radar station to detect aircraft, especially low-flying, attacking the country. It was built in 1940 by J.F. Williamson builders, of Burnham Market. Initialy the Coastal Defence station was manned by the army, with a Chain Home Extra Low radar set capable, with a ‘bedstead’ aerial mounted on the roof, of detecting aircraft up to 35 miles out and with a field of vision from north-west to north-east.
It was one of a number of Chain Home Low or Extra Low radar stations, linking to the east probably with a station on Bard Hill behind Salthouse and with another at West Beckham behind Sheringham and to the west at Stenigot and Skendleby in Lincolnshire. These were positioned with as clear and unimpede a view of the sea as possible. Certainly the site of Barrow Common’s radar station was well suited. Less suitable was the ‘bedstead’ aerial which had to be turned by hand, often difficult in high winds. Scanning was therefore frequently exhausting for the operators.
In early 1942 the station was taken over by the RAF as a Joint Air and Surface Watching Station, although in a standby surface watching role, as the main danger was still thought to be low-flying aircraft. The ‘bedstead’ aerial was replaced by a lattice tower about 100yds (90m) to the south-east, probably 200ft (61m) high. The four concrete blocks on which the corners of the tower rested can still be seen. This increased the range considerably.
RAF Barrow Common was likely to have been manned not only by RAF personnel but also four naval ratings responsible for plotting ships, and four army observers – over 80 personnel in total. There would have been four watches of six hours each. Personnel were billeted at Valley Farm just to the east of the common. Of the two buildings the larger housed the radar equipment and screens, and probably a rest room for operators. The smaller building contained the diesel power plant. The station was closed in 1944 after the invasion of the continent by the allied armies. (S4)

David Gurney (NLA), 16 August 2009.

Monument Types

  • 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)
  • RADAR BEACON? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • RADAR STATION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SLIT TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1980. Ordnance Survey (OS) 1:10 000.
<S2>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK 1571 Frm 4018 7-JUN-1946.
<S3>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1430 Frm 4106 16-APR-1946.
<S4>Illustration: Barrow Common Management Committee. 2008. Display panel.

Related records - none

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