Record Details

NHER Number:12415
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of Mousehold Heath Aerodrome and World War Two heavy anti-aircraft battery

Summary

In October 1914 the Royal Flying Corps took over the old cavalry drill ground as an airfield, now the Heartsease Estate, and erected the HQ buildings on the other side of Salhouse Road. Hangars and other buildings survive on Roundtree industrial estate. In the 1920s the field was given to the Norfolk and Norwich Aero Club. It has been suggested that the site was used as a decoy airfield in the early years of World War Two, but no physical evidence has been found to support this. Aerial photography shows the presence of an Anti-Aircraft battery and radio beacon on this site during World War Two, as well as anti-aircraft ditches (NHER 51903) and possible training trenches (NHER 51902). The hangars went on to be used as part of Barnard's Wire-netting factory, the remainder of which was destroyed 1994.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 251 106
Map Sheet:TG21SE
Parish:NORWICH, NORWICH, NORFOLK
SPROWSTON, BROADLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

In October 1914 the Royal Flying Corps took over the old cavalry drill ground as an airfield (now the Heartease Estate) and erected the HQ buildings on the other side of Salhouse Road. Hangars and other buildings survive on Roundtree industrial estate. In the 1920s the field was given to the Norfolk and Norwich Aero Club. A railway across the heath from Thorpe Station served the drome. In the early years of World War Two it was reconstructed as a dummy airfield with mock Hudsons. Ceased operation around 1950 when used as a heliport for mail deliveries. Opened as Norwich Municipal Airport 21 June 1933 by the Prince of Wales.
Information from Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum. [1].

Drawing in Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society files shows remarkable interior structure of hangar roof.
Newspaper cuttings and further details in file.
See (S1).

4 June 1980. NAU air photography.
Cropmarks of rectilinear ditches, and of pits, in parched grass of school playing field.
D. Edwards (NLA) 11 March 1981 and 7 June 1982 (S2).

On southern part of area formerly airfield - see above.
Perhaps pre-Cavalry Ground field boundaries?
E. Rose (NLA) 9 June 1982.

The hangars were destroyed before 1991.
Information from Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society.
E. Rose (NLA) 2 August 1991.

Hangars had been used as part of Barnard's Wire-netting factory, the remainder of which was destroyed 1994. The first wire netting loom is in the Bridewell Museum. Press cutting in file and others filed under NHER 13161
E. Rose (NLA), 4 January 1995.

World War Two anti-aircraft artillery.
D. Gurney (NLA), 28 January 1997.

June 1946.
RAF air photograph shows AA battery and radio beacon at TG 2544 1049. AA battery consists of four rectangular structures in arc from northwest to southwest with smaller structures nearby. Radio beacon with circular grassed area (see for comparison NHER 32529) to east of AA site.
B. Cushion (NLA), 16 February 1999.

Reference (S3) questions the use as a decoy early in World War Two as he says there is no official doumentation.
E. Rose (NLA), 8 May 1998.

Further newspaper cuttings in file.
See (S4), (S5), (S6), (S7), (S8), (S9), (S10) and (S11).
T. Sunley (NLA) 23 October 2007.

November 2008. Norfolk NMP.
Aerial photography (S2), (S12)-(S22) shows the presence of the aerodrome before World War Two, a Heavy Anti-Aircraft battery on this site during World War Two, as well as anti-aircraft ditches (NHER 51903) and possible training trenches (NHER 51902).
Cropmarks of rectilinear ditches and pits, noted below, visible in the school playing field (S2), have been recorded separately as NHER 51909.

Earliest available aerial photographs (S12) for the area show a circular concrete area possibly related to the aerodrome at TG 2507 1041. Those from during World War Two (S13) demonstrate that the heavy anti-aircraft battery on the site was originally located at TG 2541 1045 approximately 50m to the east of its final position at TG 2536 1044 (S14), with the command centre possibly located to the west side, mirroring its final position in 1944. This would confirm that four mobile 3.7 inch guns were emplaced at the top of Mousehold heath at the corner of Salhouse Road in September1940, later converted to static pieces (and presumably moved) and supplemented with 2 inch anti-aircraft rockets (S24, p.193). The earliest site has a clearly visible barbed wire perimeter fence, which is supplemented and extended by 1945 (S15), but it is clear that the circular grassed area of the radar platform centred at TG 2549 1047 (the ‘radio beacon’ described above) and the circular concrete area also related to radar at TG 2507 1041 is in place by 1942 (S13). This would confirm that it housed GL Mark IIA radar in 1942, when it was manned by 327 Battery of the 106th Royal Artillery Regiment (S25).

The main operations base for the site, centred at TG 2537 1059 is also visible on earliest photographs, and while its character may change slightly over time, its position remains the same. It is clear that the extent of Nissen huts to the north of Salhouse Road alters from 1944 (S14), to 1945 (S15), by which time there are two more rows of Nissen huts added to the east, centred at TG 2534 1082, perhaps as the site required increased accommodation. A number of huts are also visible situated in the wooded area to the north of the factory, at TG 2520 1093 (S15) and (S20). Many hangers and Nissen huts were still extant in 1951 (S23).

The site may also have performed some military training function, as several zig-zag practice trenches are visible within the barbed wire boundary fence, centred around TG 2555 1062 (S22). Two further trenches, visible as large open earthwork features (S23) to the south of the enclosed area at TG 2533 1002 may also relate to World War Two training on the site, but their exact nature is unclear, and they have been recorded separately (NHER 51902), as they may relate to the area of intense slit trench digging around the prisoner of war camp to the west (NHER 51904). The area to the south of the anti-aircraft battery is also notable for the network of anti-glider ditches (NHER 51903), which appear to respect the 1942 perimeter of the site (S13), some of which are filled in by 1944 (S14).

It is clear that the Barnards factory continues in use throughout World War Two and beyond, and it is worth noting the camouflage on top of the factory roofs is visible during World War Two (S16).

The cropmarks of rectilinear ditches and pits, noted above, visible in the school playing field (S2), have been recorded separately as NHER 51909.
E. Bales (NMP), 12 November 2008.

Monument Types

  • AIRCRAFT HANGAR (Modern - 1901 AD? to 1994 AD?)
  • AIRFIELD (World War One to Cold War - 1914 AD to 1950 AD?)
  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • RAILWAY (World War One to Cold War - 1914 AD? to 1950 AD?)
  • ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BARBED WIRE OBSTRUCTION (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BOMBING DECOY? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • COMMAND POST (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • GUN LAYING RADAR PLATFORM (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • HEAVY ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY TRAINING SITE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MUNITIONS FACTORY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • NISSEN HUT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PRACTICE TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Serial: Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum. April 1981. Airfields of Norfolk and Suffolk.. Vol III.
<S1>Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S2>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). TG 2510A-C,G.
<S3>Monograph: Dobinson, C.. 1996. Bombing decoys of World War II.. p 84.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 30 Dec 1994.
<S5>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 16 Mar 1991.
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 6 Mar 1998.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 28 Feb 1997.
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 24 Mar 1977.
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 25 Jun 1999.
<S10>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 21 Feb 1977.
<S11>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 18 Oct 1976.
<S12>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Aerofilms. Aerofilms 27416 XX-XXX-202? (NHER TG 2511C).
<S13>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1942. RAF HLA/447 (FP) 22-23 30-APR-1942 (NMR).
<S14>Vertical Aerial Photograph: USAF. 1944. US/7GR/LOC 348 2195 27-MAY-1944 (NMR).
<S15>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/776 6184-6 07-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S16>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/776 6131-2 07-SEP-1945 (NMR).
<S17>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 4058-9 27-JUN-1946 (NMR).
<S18>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2019 5108-9 18-APR-1947 (NMR).
<S19>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2019 5133-4 18-APR-1947 (NMR).
<S20>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5205-7 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S21>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5220-21 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S22>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/767 (Vp1) 5064-5 29-JUL-1951 (NMR).
<S23>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/775 (Vp1) 5048-9 21-AUG-1951 (NMR).
<S24>Publication: Kent, P. 1988. Fortifications of East Anglia.
<S25>Serial: Dobinson, C.S.. 1996. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England.. Vol I (3), p 426.

Related records

51903Related to: Anti-landing trenches to the south of Mousehold heavy anti-aircraft battery (Monument)
51904Related to: Area of World War One and Two practice trench digging and possible prisoner of war camp on Mousehold heath (Monument)
51902Related to: Possible World War Two practice trenches associated with Mousehold heavy anti aircraft battery (Monument)

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