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Radar Station Receiver Site, Including the Receiver Building, Receiver Mast Bases and Light Anti-Aircraft Gun Site

A Grade II Listed Building in Ivychurch, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9718 / 50°58'18"N

Longitude: 0.8004 / 0°48'1"E

OS Eastings: 596706

OS Northings: 122890

OS Grid: TQ967228

Mapcode National: GBR RYQ.Z17

Mapcode Global: FRA D6KJ.X8J

Entry Name: Radar Station Receiver Site, Including the Receiver Building, Receiver Mast Bases and Light Anti-Aircraft Gun Site

Listing Date: 30 November 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393538

English Heritage Legacy ID: 504292

Location: Ivychurch, Shepway, Kent, TN31

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Ivychurch

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

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Listing Text

IVYCHURCH

437/0/10003 GULDEFORD LANE (SOUTH OF)
30-NOV-09 Radar Station Receiver Site, including
the receiver building, receiver mast
bases and Light Anti-aircraft gun site

II
Rye Radar Station Receiver Site, including the receiver building, receiver mast bases and a Light Anti-aircraft gun site, built probably early 1939 and certainly operational by September 1939.

MATERIALS: Red brick and reinforced concrete.

PLAN: A rectangular receiver building located at the centre of a diamond of receiver mast bases; light anti-aircraft gun position to the west.

RECEIVER BUILDING: A rectangular structure approximately 18m long by 8m wide and oriented south-west to north-east.
EXTERIOR: Of red brick, in Flemish bond. Deep darker red-brick parapet concealing flat reinforced concrete roof: this would have been filled with shingle (now removed) to a depth of approximately 1.7m to disperse any blast. Two drainage spouts through the parapet in each of the long elevations. Some windows and doors retain original timber frames; other openings are boarded up. Air bricks provide ventilation to the walls. SW elevation: two windows to the NW; Door to SE. NW elevation: four windows to N also ventilation and cable holes. NE elevation: Single blocked window. SE elevation: two doors and one blocked window to NE. Receiver Buildings usually had external embankments as blast protection but there is no evidence of this here.
INTERIOR: Broadly divided in three: a large room to the N and S; smaller central entrance room to the E with WC facilities to its W. Glazed-tile wall and floor coverings, also original painted colour schemes - dark green to dado height and yellow above - also some simple wooden architraves and solid wooden doors. Main E door removed from hinges but present and has a security inspection hatch. No surviving plant. Scars of missing partition walls in the S room as well as an infilled pit in the centre of the building which was the duct for cables and would have had a suspended floor over.

RECEIVER MAST BASES:
Four mast bases for the four receiver masts (the masts have been removed but would have been timber to limit interference with the incoming signal) located NW, NE, SW and SE of receiver building. Each has four concrete 'feet' of square plan (approximately 3 sq m), slightly tapering to 1.7m maximum height.

LIGHT ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN POSITION:
Concrete enclosure of two square compartments with solid concrete walls and a shared T-shaped blast wall at the entrance. To a pre-war Expansion Period design to house and protect a pair of Lewis light anti-aircraft machine guns mounted on telescopic pintle mountings. It is not known whether the mountings survive.

HISTORY:
The introduction of the aircraft as an offensive weapon provided the rationale for strategic air defence systems adopted by Britain from the early 1920s. These systems initially involved early warning, based on the visual spotting and tracking of aircraft, but developed through acoustic detection devices to radar. The principles behind radar were widely recognised by the 1930s, but British technicians were the first to translate the science - that an electromagnetic pulse reflected from an object betrays that objects position to a receiver - into a practical means of defence. Following experimental work at Orfordness and Bawdsey Research Station in Suffolk radar developed through the initial Home Chain, a small group of stations in the extreme south-east of the country. Ultimately there were six major types of radar station established in the United Kingdom by the end of the Second World War which evolved with advances in radar technology combined with operational need. Rye was a Chain Home station - the first type of radar station to be developed and built - of which there were eventually 32 sites nationally.

Radar stations were designed for raid reporting, passing information to a central operations room which in turn directed fighters to intercept enemy aircraft. This system was to prove vital during the Battle of Britain and radar was constantly evolving and also played a significant role in alerting and deploying night fighters during the Blitz of 1940-41. Radar, through Coast Defence/Chain Home Low stations, could also detect enemy surface shipping. Range and accuracy improved during the war and aided Fighter Command in their offensive sweeps over occupied Europe from 1943. Many radar stations were reused during the Cold War period for Rotor, a later development of wartime radar.

The site at Rye is one of a chain of radar sites along the south-east and east coasts which were operational by September 1939. Radar sites of this early pre-war period were essentially divided in two with one part of the site housing receiver functions and the other transmitter functions. The layout of the receiver and transmitter buildings relative to their masts was different: receiver masts were arranged in a broadly square plan with the receiver building at the centre, whereas the masts of the transmitter site were arranged in a line. The receiver building would have received signals identifying the position, numbers and formation of planes and was also able to distinguish between allied and enemy planes through the use of aircraft mounted IFF (Identification Friend or Foe). Information would then be passed to Fighter Group HQ at RAF Bentley Priory where enemy aircraft locations were plotted and a response was co-ordinated. With a range of approximately 150 miles, Chain Home stations were a vital part of our country's defence.

A German reconnaissance aerial photograph dated to January 1940, and provided by the applicant, identifies Rye radar station, with its receiver and transmitter sites and four masts at each, as a potential target. It was subsequently bombed, on 12-13 August 1940, as part of an attack on southern radar stations. This was known as 'Adlertag' or 'Eagle Day' and was a long-planned attack on Britain by the Luftwaffe. Radar stations were a key target with Dover, Pevensey, Ventnor, Dunkirk and Rye all being damaged to varying degrees. At Rye it is understood that all the buildings, other than the receiver and transmitter buildings, were hit and the station was temporarily out of action. Damage to radar stations allowed the Luftwaffe to successfully attack a number of key airfields in southern England such as Hawkinge, Manston, Eastchurch and Detling and it also attacked other military targets such as an aircraft factory in Rochester. Such attacks must have prompted increased provision for defence. A document of 20 May 1942 indicates that by that time Rye had four Light Anti-Aircraft Gun-sites for its protection (at TQ964232; 977238; 975224 and 961223).

The Rye site is also recorded in Schofield (2000) and Cocroft and Thomas (2003, 102) as having had a later use during the Cold War under the 'Rotor' system. This use must have been relatively short-lived, however, as the land was sold off by the Air Ministry in November 1958.

SOURCES:
Cocroft, WD and Thomas, RJC, Cold War: Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989, for Cold War Rotor Radar, pp84-109, 2003.
Dobinson, C, Acoustics and Radar, Volume V11 part 1 and V11 part 2 (appendices), Twentieth Century Fortifications in England Series, Council for British Archaeology, pp160 and 243, 2000.
Saunders, A and Smith, V, Kent's Defence Heritage, Kent County Council, 2001.
Schofield, J, Monuments Protection Programme: Scheduling Selection Policy for World War II Radar Stations. Ancient Monuments Advisory Committee paper, 19 September 2000

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
Rye Radar Station Receiver Site is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* For its architectural interest as a relatively intact example of a receiver site with surviving principal building, mast bases and anti-aircraft gun position which allow a clear understanding of how the site functioned.
* For its historic interest as an early Chain Home receiver site, built just prior to the Second World War and thus one of the earliest such sites nationally.
* As a physical manifestation of pre-war tensions and fears, anticipating the need for a national defence system which resulted in the construction of a chain of radar stations to protect Britain's coast.
* As one of the radar stations targetted by the Luftwaffe in August 1940 (Eagle Day).

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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