Heavy Anti-aircraft gunsite, 170m south west of the junction of Cedar Road and West Crescent
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Castle Point (District Authority)
- Canvey Island
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 78813 83708
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
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.
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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
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
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)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing