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Latitude: 51.2948 / 51°17'41"N
Longitude: 0.9741 / 0°58'26"E
OS Eastings: 607445
OS Northings: 159272
OS Grid: TR074592
Mapcode National: GBR SWF.M36
Mapcode Global: VHKJX.TQT9
Entry Name: Bofors Tower, Approx. 500m Nnw of Christ Church
Listing Date: 6 August 2002
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1088075
English Heritage Legacy ID: 489661
Location: Dunkirk, Swale, Kent, ME13
Civil Parish: Dunkirk
Built-Up Area: Dunkirk
Traditional County: Kent
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent
06-AUG-02 Bofors Tower, approx. 500m NNW of Chri
Bofors gun tower. 1940. Reinforced concrete.
PLAN: The structure stands to a height of about 5m and consists of two parallel, independent towers, separated for much of their height by a 1.2m wide gap. At ground level this gap functioned as a passageway, providing access to the chambers on either side. The passage opens onto a level walkway surrounding the base of the two towers and partly sunk into the crest of the hill to the east.
EXTERIOR: The larger, southern tower measures about 10m east to west by 7m north to south and was constructed on two levels comprising two brick-walled ground floor chambers with the ordnance emplacement on the roof. The open roof space is reached from ground level via external concrete steps attached to the southern side of the tower. The Bofors gun (which had an effective range of about 2km) was mounted at the centre of the roof on a low, hexagonal concrete drum. This still survives together with its steel holdfast frame. The gun position is flanked by two ammunition lockers, set behind the parapet to the east and west. The western cell is cantilevered out beyond the wall of the tower below, and is supported by three concrete piers. The eastern cell has been under-built in brick creating a second chamber at ground level.
The adjacent tower, which measures about 5sq m, supported the target predictor on its flat concrete roof - the intervening gap insulating this sensitive equipment from the vibration of the Bofors gun. Photographic evidence of a similar tower during operation suggests that the much lighter Lewis gun may have been placed at the centre of this roof, with the predictor installed alongside. This roof platform is raised slightly above the level of the adjacent tower and is cantilevered across the intervening passage without touching the main gun tower platform. It can be reached directly from the Bofors platform via a step set into the edge of the position, or by way of external concrete steps on its northern side. These steps also provide access to the chamber below, which housed an ammunition store linked to the Bofors gun platform by two openings situated at the top of its southern wall.
HISTORY: The concrete and brick built gun tower at Dunkirk appears to conform to type `DFW 55087', which was designed at the end of 1939 with the earliest examples constructed during the first half of 1940. The tower was designed to raise a 40mm Bofors gun and its operational equipment above surrounding obstacles in order to achieve an all-round field of fire. At Dunkirk the Bofors tower was partly concealed in an area of light woodland, to defend the radar station from attack by fast moving, low flying enemy aircraft. A Lewis gun provided the ground defence of this position.
By June 1939 Dunkirk radar station was identified by the war office as one of five sites in England most vulnerable to attack and was allocated the designation `Vulnerable Point (VP) 126'. In common with other VPs, Dunkirk subsequently became a strongly fortified position. From as early as September 1939 the site's anti-aircraft provision included three 40mm Bofors and eight Lewis guns. Fears of German paratroop raids led to the construction of additional perimeter defences, including four infantry pillboxes and Lewis guns for ground defence. By July 1940 the number of Lewis guns had been temporarily increased to 18. The defences were further strengthened by the addition of the tower-mounted Bofors gun and a quad Vickers machine gun, both of which were in place by the end of January 1942.
This World War II Bofors Anti-aircraft gun tower is one of the few remaining examples of its type in the country. The importance of radar stations, in providing long range early warning, was fully recognised during World War II and a high priority was given to their defence. The substantially built Bofors tower at Dunkirk is a graphic indication of the necessity to safeguard the radar installation - one of the crucial elements in the strategic defence of the Britain against the threat of invasion during the principal conflict of the 20th century.
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
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