Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 170m south west of the junction of Cedar Road and West Crescent

A Scheduled Monument in Canvey Island, Essex

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 51.524 / 51°31'26"N

Longitude: 0.5762 / 0°34'34"E

OS Eastings: 578816.977319

OS Northings: 183708.860885

OS Grid: TQ788837

Mapcode National: GBR PN6.GHF

Mapcode Global: VHJL2.XYZL

Entry Name: Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 170m south west of the junction of Cedar Road and West Crescent

Scheduled Date: 22 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020144

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32432

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Canvey Island

Built-Up Area: Canvey Island

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Canvey Island St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Details

The monument includes a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite located 170m
south west of the junction of Cedar Road and West Crescent and documented in
wartime records as `TN7 (Thames North) Furtherwick'. The monument lies within
a triangular parcel of land known locally as `The Gunney' or `The Gunnery'.

At the peak of operation there were six guns stationed at TN7, each mounted
within shoulder high concrete enclosures, four of which were octagonal in plan
and two square. The octagonal emplacements (each 15m in diameter), which
survive beneath modern earthen mounds and skateboard ramps are arranged in an
arc with the apex at the east facing towards the direction of incoming German
aircraft.

Each emplacement contains a series of ammunition recesses (built into the
internal faces of the surrounding walls) and is flanked by an integral
bomb-proof shelter for the gun crew. An on-site magazine bunker lies buried
within the mound between the two southernmost emplacements, and the command
post structure lies beneath a separate mound in the centre of the arc.
The two square emplacements have been demolished although the foundations of
one (measuring some 13m across) can still be traced immediately to the north
east of the octagonal emplacement array. A concrete platform of lattice
design, measuring some 15 sq m, lies between these foundations and the
northern octagonal emplacement. This is thought to have served as the base for
an ancillary building or equipment related to the battery and is included in
the scheduling. The second square emplacement, formerly located to the north
west of the arc, has been destroyed by house construction and is not included
in the scheduling. The scheduling does not include the accommodation area for
the gun crews (a series of lightweight barracks formerly located to the south
of the gunsite) as these structures have also been demolished to make way for
modern housing development.

War Office documents relating to the equipment and manning of gunsite TN7
indicate that the battery was operational in 1940, and in 1942 was equipped
with four 4.5inch AA guns and a GL Mk II fire-control radar. By 1943 it was
manned by 184 Regiment, a mixed battery which included women of the ATS
(Auxiliary Territorial Service). Evidently supported with two extra guns at
one stage, the battery appears to have remained in use throughout the duration
of the war, and was last mentioned in 1946.

The modern features associated with the children's play area, including the
football goalposts and the tarmac skateboard ramps overlying the mounds, are
excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these items is
included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Although of comparatively recent date, 20th century military sites are
increasingly seen as historic survivals representing a defining episode in the
history of warfare and of the century in general; as such they merit careful
record and, in some cases, preservation. One of the more significant
developments in the evolution of warfare during this period was the emergence
of strategic bombing in World War II, and this significance was reflected by
the resources invested in defence, both in terms of personnel and the sites on
which they served. During the war, the number of people in Anti-aircraft
Command reached a peak of 274,900 men, additional to the women soldiers of the
ATS who served on gunsites from summer 1941, and the Home Guard who manned
many sites later in the war. A national survey of England's Anti-aircraft
provision, based on archive sources, has produced a detailed record of how
many sites there were, where they were and what they looked like. It is also
now known from a survey of aerial photographs how many of these survive.
Anti-aircraft gunsites divide into three main types: those for heavy guns
(HAA), light guns (LAA) and batteries for firing primitive unguided rockets
(so called ZAA sites). In addition to gunsites, decoy targets were employed to
deceive enemy bombers, while fighter command played a complementary and
significant role. Following the end of World War II, 192 HAA sites were
selected for post-war use as the Nucleus Force, which was finally closed in
1955.
The HAA sites contained big guns with the function of engaging high flying
strategic bombers, hence their location around the south and east coasts, and
close to large cities and industrial and military targets. Of all the
gunsites, these were the most substantially built. There were three main
types: those for static guns (mostly 4.5 and 3.7 inch); those for 3.7 inch
mobile guns; and sites accommodating 5.25 inch weapons. These were all
distinct in fabric, though they could all occupy the same position at
different dates, or simultaneously by accretion. As well as the four or eight
gun emplacements, with their holdfast mountings for the guns, components will
generally include operational buildings such as a command post, radar
structures including the radar platform, on-site magazines for storing reserve
ammunition, gun stores and generating huts, usually one of the standard Nissen
hut designs. Domestic sites were also a feature of HAA gunsites, with huts,
ablutions blocks, offices, stores and amenities drawn from a common pool of
approved structures. Sites were often also provided with structures for their
close defence; pillboxes are the most common survivals, though earthwork
emplacements were also present. The layout of HAA gunsites was distinctive,
but changed over time, for example to accommodate the introduction of radar
from December 1940, women soldiers from summer 1941, and eight gun layouts
from late 1942.
Nearly 1,000 gunsites were built during World War II, and less than 200 of
these have some remains surviving. However, at only around 60 sites are these
remains thought sufficient to provide an understanding of their original form
and function. This includes 30 of the 192 examples which continued in use
until 1955. Surviving examples are therefore sufficiently rare to suggest that
all 60 well preserved examples are of national importance.

The Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 170m south west of the junction of Cedar Road
and West Crescent survives well, largely concealed beneath modern earthworks
which may have been added to original earthen blast defences commonly
constructed around the concrete emplacements. It is one of only nine such
sites to survive from an original wartime deployment of about 40 HAA positions
around Essex, a pattern designed to combat German bombers en route to the
capital, the Thames estuary and other military targets in the south east of
England. The survival of TN7, which is exceptional in retaining both the
emplacements and the central command post, provides a valuable insight into
the development of Anti-aircraft measures in the region and is a significant,
visible reminder of the nature of home defence during World War II.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996), 469-72
Nash, F, World War Two Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Sites in Essex, (1998), 52-3
Other
Colour prints; three frames, Nash, F, (1996)
HQ 6th AA Division Location List, (1940)
One colour print, Nash, F, (1997)
Title: TQ 7883 NE
Source Date: 1995
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
1:1250
Tyler, S, MPP Film, (1998)
Vertical aerial photograph, RAF, 106G-UK 1563-3034, (1946)

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.