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CH Tower at Baddow

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 1 year, 9 months ago




STOP PRESS 24th October 2019 - notice from Historic England

Chain Home tower at Great Baddow, off Vicarage Lane, Great Baddow, Essex – Awarded Listed Building Status

List Entry Number: 1456445

I am writing to inform you that the above building has been added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The building is now listed at Grade II.

Full advice report

Historic England listing


This tower which is of steel and 360 feet high, is one of the three transmitting antenna towers originally erected at Canewdon in 1937, one of the first 20 East Coast Chain Home (CH.) (AMES Type 1) stations which provided floodlight Early Warning and height finding, operating on frequencies from 20 to 30 MHz.    The curtain arrays which these towers supported were supplied by the Marconi Company. 


It became operational in mid 1938 and continued throughout the war but, from 1940, when the Germans introduced jamming and from 1942 when jamming was much more intense, and 200 MHz and 600 MHz equipments became available, the significance was reduced.  Also, the Germans, in 1944, used the transmissions from our CH stations to pick up RAF aircraft, using bi-static techniques.  This resulted in our ‘jittering’ of the transmissions and the possibility of switching off the CH transmitters, when RAF aircraft were airborne.


There was considerable policy debate at the highest level in the Air Ministry after the war on the future radar defence system.  After many variations, as late as 1950 26 CH ( subsequently revised to 28) stations were to be retained, but Canewdon was not one of these.  These CH stations were complete by April 1953.  With the arrival of the Type 80 radars, which were installed at GCI stations, it became clear that these stations had greater and better coverage than the CH stations, which were then progressively taken out of service.


When the BLUE STREAK missile project was in progress, Baddow received the contract to design the radio guidance system.  In order to provide a simulation of a receding missile at a high angle of elevation, the CH tower from Canewdon was dismantled and erected (by a firm of German riggers) at Baddow in 1956.  However, in 1957 the guidance for BLUE STREAK was changed to inertial guidance and the tower became redundant for its original purpose on this site.


As an interesting consequence, the Baddow team becoming redundant, Dr. Eastwood immediately moved the staff on to the PV development of a 50cm MTI radar, which became the very successful S232 and S264.


The tower was almost immediately used for a radar link to bring signals from Rivenhall and Bushy Hill into Baddow using the 360 foot platforms.


Subsequently the WINKLE project required in 1964, the establishing of a long base line from Bushy Hill where a high speed aerial was installed, to RRE at Great Malvern using the BLUE YEOMAN (experimental Type 85) radar  The tower, with equipment in a hut at the 200 foot platform and a reflector at 360 feet was a relay point to the two further repeater sites to Malvern.


Prior to the listing by Historic England, over the past few years there had been considerable discussion as to its preservation as the tenancy of the Baddow site by BAE came to an end and the current owner proposed redevelopment. It is the only tower remaining with the full complement of platforms, and that continued to be used in related activities. 




Memories of the Baddow Tower by Ian Brighton


Input by Chris Neale


See The GEC Journal of Research Vol. 3 No. 2 1985 for a detailed description of CH by the late Bruce Neale of Marconi Radar Systems Ltd.


Use of the Tower for research by the Baddow Propagation Section (Marconi Companies and their People Feb. 1955)


Heritage leaflet by Chelmsford Borough council


Great Baddow Community


A drone flyby     Later version






Comments (2)

Ian Gillis said

at 5:51 pm on Feb 10, 2016

Page checked

Alan Hartley-Smith said

at 5:50 pm on Oct 10, 2017

The CH tower at Baddow was erected during the summer of 1956. It was virtually, if not totally complete by the end of that year. I was attached to LEQ Walker's section from June to November and remember the tower being erected. I was in hut 1, which at that time was the workshop side of the hedge, and watched the erection from about the 50ft level, when it became visible over the hedge. I used to watch the riggers shinning up the cross members and sitting on the top members chucking sandwiches to each other, no safety belts in those days.
Brian Burgess

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