Northwick Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery
Special visit to this WW2 Base
Hidden away at Northwick is a World War 2 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery (SMR No.14735), important enough to have gained Designated Sheduled Monument status (No.32433) in July 2000.
Although on private land and part of a busy recyling centre, we gained special permission to visit thanks to Lawson & Hazel.
The site is documented as Thames North 8 (TN8) Northwick, situated here from around 1940 and manned by the 6th AA Division with three 4.5″ Guns.
As you enter the site you pass what looks like a Guard House on the right (see above photo) and then the former accomodation huts. Many of these huts were used for civilian accomodation after the war until the Council built the estate north of Long Road in the early 1950’s. There were around twelve huts, two of which were partially destroyed in a fire last year (2007). The owners have thankfully restored them.
A steel shuttered Gun Store stands (see above right) with a pair of large steel doors giving access to its dark interior. On the walls messages and drawings are preserved of the former military occupants of the base. I was told many Canadians were stationed here and occasionally they have visited.
At the north of the base there are four circular Gun Placements (see photo left), one buried but the other three preserved with their six internal recesses and gap where steel doors once hung, the large hinges can still be seen. These four emplacements are arranaged in the ‘March 1938 pattern’ which is an arc with its apex facing east towards the direction of the oncoming German Aircraft (up the Thames from the North Sea).
On the inside of this arc the road goes round like a roundabout and the inside is heavily overgrown. Hidden amounst the undergrowth is the Gunsite Command Post, partly a bunker and partly concrete walls with open roofs. All that can be seen is a north facing wall and the reinforced roof. An entrance was found on the east face but it was not accessable. See the Photos at the base of this page.
Between the north east gun placements is a Magazine Bunker (see photo right) again almost inaccessable. On the east a very deep recess can be seen. Apparently there is a ramp that goes inside but it is currently not possible to explore due to many years of thick growth and earth movement.
To the south east there is a Pump House (see photo at base of page) that served the Camp and to the east is a Sewage Station (photographed below) consisting of a circular and square structure in the middle of the fields. I also spotted another odd structure further east along Northwick Road near a Farm but it was not accessable. A Photo of this is available at the base of this page.
To see more photos of these structures click the images at the base of the page. If you have any information about this base or you were stationed here, please leave a comment below or email your memories in.
Again special thanks to Lawson & Hazel for giving permission for us to visit this important piece of Canvey Island history!
Comments about this page
I have been trying to piece together my father’s Home Guard service (he was in a reserved occupation for John Mowlem) during WW2. The Ministry of Defence Army Medal Office told me in 1995 that he enlisted 20 May 1942 in 103 City of London Ack Ack Battery and was discharged 31 December 1944 with the rank of Private. He therefore served 946 days and was not eligible for a Defence Medal.
I remember (and I was born in 1935 so have some good recall of the period) that he was stationed early on on Canvey for a year – a year my mother remembered vividly because it was the only time in his life that he put on a lot of weight – that he lived in a hut, slept rather uncomfortably on a truckle bed and that there was an oil refinery there. We both thought he was made up to lance-corporal but that is beside the point. I wondered, having just come across your website, if you would be able to fill in any detail about him – Ernest Pascoe – and whether your ack ack battery was staffed by the Home Guard. He certainly was on ack ack guns when he returned to East Ham for the rest of the war. It would be fascinating for me and family to find out.
Yrs, Mary Pascoe
I moved to Northwick in 1945 as a 4 year old. Lived there with my family for 8 years. Best years ever. I am going to look at my photographs to see what I can find, We were all so friendly. I can remember the families all playing rounders together .
I went to an Essex Young Farmers dance in the underground bunker on this site in 1968 or 1973-74. The entrance was through a flat roof building that led down some zig zag concrete stairs maybe as deep as say one and half houses are in height. The appearance was very similar to that of the Kelvedon Hatch bunker and which started life as an RAF ROTOR radar station. There were many such. Deep down under Northwick TN8 was the plotting room with a gallery or mezzanine floor around the sides. The plotting table had gone and its former place was our dance floor. In the old days the controllers looked down as the plots were moved about that table. There were residential rooms, furniture and offices. A board still showed the names of those who were in and those who were out. There were name tags on hooks. It was as if the crew had just left the place and gone. There was also a round table painted sky blue which showed various RAF stations marked with names and roundels. I recall RAF Heathrow and RAF North Weald. These were joined by red lines. A former RAF man told me when I described it that I had just described an RAF ROTOR radar station. We Young Farmers were told it was a nuclear bunker. And the entrance was through a low flat roofed building which had a lead covered roof several inches thick. I am inclined to believe that the site became one of the RAF’s chain of ROTOR radar station bunkers post WW2 and it had been abandoned and just left there. The entrance looked more like the building marked on this website as the gun store. I thought it all looked rather obvious the entrance. Maybe it was demolished and buried years later? The dance floor was where the large plotting table must have been and the mezzanine floor made it like discos and such at that time. I spent some time exploring the many underground corridors and side rooms. I recall one could stand in the entrance and see the Coryton oil refinery all lit up quite close by..Regards..Barrie Stevens
I have second thoughts and now think that the Young Farmers dance was held in a bunker under Northwick Farm further down Northwick Road. It was after all a Young Farmers event and the bunker was almost live as I describe above with lighting and power. TN 8 Gun battery was used for housing post 1945 so was hardly likely to be the same venue. The RAF maintained a large number of what they called ROTOR Radar Stations and which can be Googled. After all the bunker I went down was opposite the oil refinery in Coryton over the water and had a plotting table painted sky blue. If you Google RAF ROTOR radar stations you will see roughly what I saw down the “hole”…!! Some of these bunkers were handed back to landowners when redundant and that is possibly why we had a Young Farmers do down there. The Thames 8 Gun Battery appears not to have been a farm. If you go on Google Earth you can see the road and entrance to Northwick farm as it is today and from above the present day buildings seem to have blast walls. Now if I am right how many know that there is this underground bunker in this part of Canvey/Essex? It was very much like the Kelvedon Hatch bunker but much smaller and Kelvedon Hatch began life as a radar station. I find nothing in the SEAX catalogue of the Essex Record Office. Perhaps another topic for investigative historians on Canvey? Barrie Stevens
The above link takes you to an RAF ROTOR radar bunker much like the one we had the Young Farmers dance in and which I now think is under Northwick Farm at the end of Northwick Road. The one linked to here is much bigger than the one I recall..The one linked to is RAF Wartling r3 bunker in Sussex..It gives you an idea..
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