Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 380m south east of Butler's Gate


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019550

Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 380m south east of Butler's Gate
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Rochford (District Authority)

Parish: Sutton

National Grid Reference: TQ 89870 88879


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 380m south east of Butler's Gate survives in good condition as one of the few remaining examples of its type in the country. The design appears to conform to that known as DFW 55414 - an emplacement with seven integral ammunition recesses and two external integral shelters. The emplacements are important historical structures which provide a pattern both for study and as a physical record of similar emplacements elsewhere, now demolished. The remains of the command post also add to the importance of the site.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a World War II Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, known as TN2 (Thames North 2), which is situated 380m south of Butler's Gate. The monument, originally sited in open fields, had four octagonal gun emplacements in a semi-circle facing east; with a further square gun emplacement at each end of the semi-circle. Some 100m to the west, on the east side of Shopland Road, were the accommodation huts and other associated structures.

The four octagonal gun emplacements, built of concrete blocks and poured concrete, are extant. Each emplacement is some 14m in diameter (externally, measured from the rear of its opposite ammunition recesses) and 2m high. The octagonal emplacements are all of the same design: each has seven external integral ammunition recessess and two external shelters alongside for the guncrew. Each ammunition recess measures some 2.5m square; some retain the lettering `A' to `G' in white paint. Other painted signs on the walls appear to refer to the type of ammunition stored in each recess and include `day'; `night' and `shrap' (the latter clearly the remains of the word `shrapnel'). On opposite sides, between the ammunition recesses, are two small chambers which lead to the shelters. These are integral with the main structure and measure 4.5m long by 2.5m high.

The inner parts of each emplacement, where the guns stood, are almost circular and measure some 9m across. In the centre of one emplacement a holdfast of four steel girders (each 1.80m long by 0.23m wide) is embedded in the concrete base; there are signs of stud or bolt holes.

To the rear of the semi-circle the site of the central command post is marked by a large earthen mound with broken brick and concrete lying on top of or partly buried in the earth. It is thought that the command post remains largely extant beneath this mound.

The earliest documentary reference to the site known as TN2 dates from 1940 and the latest to 1946. In 1942 the site is documented as having four 3.7 inch guns operational.

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


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32430

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Volume 1.3, (1996), 469-72
Nash, F, World War Two Heavy Anti-Aircraft Gun Sites in Essex, (1998), 59-60
HQ 6th AA Division Location List, (1940)
May, RAF, 106G-UK 1496-3361, (1946)
October; 11 colour prints, Nash, F, (1998)
Tyler, S, MPP Film, (1998)

End of official listing