TN9 Hadleigh at Sandpit Hill was one of several heavy anti-aircraft batteries in the area – such as TN7 Furtherwick and TN8 Northwick on Canvey, and also TN10 Vange. They would’ve been used for defence in the Second World War to shoot down enemy bombers and fighters during the Blitz. It also would have been a defence in case of invasion, which was imminent though narrowly avoided in 1940, they would’ve been used to defend the greens of England from landing German paratroops; the Fallschirmjager, or attack forces of aircraft during the Battle of Britain. The site in Hadleigh is notable for its range of guns that are now buried under the mounds around the site; including four 5.25 inch naval guns and four 4.5 inch naval guns, but many of the associated camp buildings remain used to shelter bats and are situated in the field of the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike Track which was extended into a public facility throughout the field as of 2014. As far as I am aware this has not had an impact on the structures, and information signs have fortunately been put up for visitors to now see. A presumed small arms firing range is also present on site fenced off, which we have not yet been able to assess. Also surviving is an operations block and generator room from the early Cold War visible as a large building near the track, as the battery continued to be readied into 1946 as a Nucleus Force Headquarters Battery against the Soviets. Photographs from 1998-2001 can been found at the SEAX website.
In the very early days of BTP, Liam and Joe set out across the Ray to find remains of a WW2 Army Camp and Heavy Anti Aircraft site in the Hadleigh Downs, hidden from modern life by nothing greater than some bushes! Many thanks to ‘Weeto’ from ‘Derelict Places’ for the information. After walking down a public footpath, off of Chapel Lane, which luckily had a temporal diversion to exactly were we wanted to be, we instantly saw around 5 concrete structures. The site was called TN9 Hadleigh.
In the Second World War, it was a complex site of 5.25″ and 4.5″ gun emplacements, ancillary buildings and structures, and accommodation huts. All of the accommodation huts have been demolished and the appearance of the site has changed with the addition of a banked reservoir and heaped soil and grass over the gun positions. However, potentially much remains. On the surface there is the post-war Operations Room/Generator Block, rare in the county. The Gun Store is one of only two – the other is at TN10 Vange. The on-site magazine is similarly one of only two – the other is at ZE7 Lippitts Hill. Two of the 4.5″ emplacements and their command post may remain beneath the soil. But, of major importance as no emplacements of this gun calibre remain in Essex.
Photos below from left to right: Magazine (ammunition storage), general building, water tower, Cold War operations room and generator block, and water tower pipe.
- Benfleet & Hadleigh
- Cold War Sites
- Post-War & Cold War
- Public Land
- Second World War