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Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite including Anti-Tank Blocks on Lippitts Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Waltham Abbey, Essex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.655 / 51°39'18"N

Longitude: 0.017 / 0°1'1"E

OS Eastings: 539622.007308

OS Northings: 197063.363767

OS Grid: TQ396970

Mapcode National: GBR LJ.8YF

Mapcode Global: VHHMR.7NVM

Entry Name: Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite including Anti-Tank Blocks on Lippitts Hill

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Last Amended: 22 August 2017

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019487

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32436

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Waltham Abbey

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: High Beach Holy Innocents

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Summary

Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Site built by January 1940 for the War Office.

Source: Historic England

Details

Principal Elements: the site includes the remains of a World War II Heavy Anti-Aircraft gun site, documented in wartime records as 'ZE7 Lippitts Hill', sited on a hill-top position some 2.5km to the east of the River Lee Navigation on the Essex/Hertfordshire border. The HAA lies in three areas of protection; the largest includes the gun emplacements, together with the command post, on-site magazine and an associated section of the military service road. The two smaller areas define the anti-tank barriers at the site entrance.

Description: the largest area of protection includes two concrete octagonal gun emplacements and the base of a third (which is thought to exist beneath slight undulations in the ground), a command post, an on-site magazine and that part of the original military road which serves to connect these structures. ZE7 Lippitts Hill was designed for the operation of four Heavy Anti-Aircraft guns, each mounted within an octagonal, shoulder-high concrete emplacement. Two of these octagonal emplacements remain fully visible (although now infilled and grassed over), and the foundations of a third are thought to survive buried beneath a slight mound; the fourth has been destroyed. Aerial photographs dating from 1946 show the emplacements are constructed to a recognised design known as the 'March 1938 pattern', but with five internal ammunition recesses instead of the usual six, and are arranged in a semi-circle facing north-east, towards the direction of incoming German aircraft. The emplacements measure some 14m across with walls 3m thick. The original steel doors have now been replaced with walling.

The command post stands to the rear of the emplacements at the centre of the arc and, apart from the removal of military equipment, remains fairly unaltered. This has four main structures built in shuttered concrete sections, all standing on a concrete platform linked to the service road which connects the emplacements. The command post survives as two small semi-sunken, roofed buildings, with two smaller unroofed enclosures attached to the west, each pair sit either side of a central concrete platform. Set within the concrete platform is a triangular shaped metal plate marking the former position of instruments presumably for determining the height, range, speed and direction of approaching aircraft, information which was collated and transmitted electronically to the guns. A roofless enclosure measuring approximately 4m square is positioned on the east side of, but central to, the two small roofed structures. It stands to approximately 3.3m high and retains circular metal fixtures approximately 4-5cm in diameter set in the concrete floor indicating mounting positions for equipment.

The on-site magazine, built in shuttered concrete is a rectangular, flat-roofed building, located between the two central emplacements and recessed below ground level for added protection. This building is similarly well preserved. Access is provided by ramps at either end, leading down to a passageway and a central steel door on the south-eastern side. The interior is divided into five small rooms, which were ammunition chambers for anti-aircraft shells.

The main entrance to the gunsite is situated on the lane (Lippitts Hill) some 150m to the east of the gun emplacements. The entrance is flanked by two anti-tank obstacles, each a squat brick-shuttered pillar with a concrete core, which together provided fixed anchorage for a chain barrier. These obstacles are considered to be integral components of the wartime site, and are included in the scheduling, as two separate areas of protection.

Also within the scheduled area is a grass covered brick built ramp. The bricks appear reused and crop marks both north and south of the ramp indicate the location of rectangular pits. The ramp does not appear on any pre-1970s aerial photographs suggesting it dates to the Metropolitan Police phase of the site, possibly part of a Police assault course which is apparent on post-1973 aerial photographs. The ramp is excluded from the scheduling.

Closely associated with, and integral to the functioning of the HAA, is the supporting infrastructure for military personnel serving the ZE7 Lippitts Hill HAA gun emplacement. A number of timber clad halls set on brick piers include The Spider Block (NHLE 1390667), Long Range and Adjoining Officers Accommodation (NHLE 1390668), Officers Accommodation (NHLE1390669), Office and Chapel Building (NHLE 1390671), Mess Block (NHLE 1390670), The Commanders Office (1390666) and a K6 telephone kiosk (NHLE 1390664) all of which are listed at Grade II. The Armoury is also part of this group and is currently being assessed for listing (UID1448186).

After 1944 Lippitts Hill was converted to serve as a prisoner of war camp. An interesting feature of the site from this period stands just inside the main gate. This is a full size statue of a man carved from a block of concrete by Rudi Weber, a Prisoner of War, in 1946. The statue is listed at Grade II (NHLE 1390665). In the immediate post-war period, between 1948 and 1951, the Cold War Anti-Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR) was built. This partly buried two-storey bunker surrounding a central operations room, survives intact towards the south-western corner of the camp's perimeter and is under consideration for listing under the current project (UID 1447670).

Exclusions: all modern fences and the brick built ramp which forms part of a former police assault course are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

Extent of scheduling: the monument is designated in three areas of protection. The first and largest area includes all four of the gun emplacements, together with the command post, on-site magazine and an associated section of the military service road. The northern edge of this area follows the field boundary fence for 74 meters, starting 26m east of the western corner of the field. The other three sides of this area are not marked by physical boundaries but the western edge measures approximately 36 meters north to south, the eastern edge measures about 65 meters north to south and the southern boundary approximately 72 meters east to west. Each of the two smaller scheduled areas contain an Anti-Tank block and includes a 2m buffer zone all around which was considered necessary for the support and preservation of the anti-tank defences.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Second World War Heavy Anti-Aircraft gun emplacement including Anti-Tank blocks at Lippitts Hill is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: as an exceptional survival of its type in the country, providing a visible reminder of the nature of home defence during the second World War;

* Rarity: as one of only nine sites to survive of about 40 HAA positions across Essex;

* Diversity: as the only HAA gun emplacement in Essex to retain its command post and its wider military context;

* Period: as the base of the first American troops to fire Heavy Anti-aircraft guns in the defence of Britain;

* Group value: for its exceptionally strong group value with the original accommodation units, the AAOR, the monument to US troops, prisoner of war huts and sculpture which together allow a thorough appreciation of the war time operation and chart the subsequent development of the military site.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Volume 1.3, (1996)
Nash, F, World War Two Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Sites in Essex, (1998)
Turley Heritage, , Heritage Appraisal NPAS Site (Metropolitan Police) Lippitts Hill , (November 2015)
Other
Aerial Photograph, October, RAF, CPE-UK 1779-3141 (1946)
Aerial Photograph, RAF August, 58-774-5109 (1951)

Source: Historic England

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