Monday 18 October 2010

Chadwell Heath Anti-Aircraft Battery

Today it often seems that remnants of WWII history are lost or invisible, smothered as they are by modern developments. One such site in my home borough of Dagenham still survives although it seems to be clinging onto existence by the thinnest of threads. The Chadwell Heath Anti Aircraft Battery was one of the largest purpose built AA sites protecting London during the Blitz. Most sites housed four guns but this battery held 8 4.5inch guns, reflective of its importance as the last line of defence against enemy bombers heading for the capital.

(Source: Google Maps 2010)
It is actually a Grade II listed site and in a 2009 Ordnance Survey Map produced for the local council is shown linked to the nearby road (the A1112) by a track, with both the site and the access track part of a designated conservation area.

The following description is an abridged version of the information available online: The site was built between 1935-9 and the buildings are mostly of brick (with concrete render) and reinforced concrete construction.  There are two command posts each with 4 gun emplacements set in a semi-circle on the eastward side and all are linked by concrete roads.

Between each pair of gun emplacements there is blast proof ammunition stores and there are 3 other detached buildings which probably housed more ammunition stores and a vehicle store. The gun emplacements are octagonal with each having 2 opposed entrances next to each was a subterranean corrugated iron shelter of which only fragments now remain. Within each emplacement are 6 small ammunition stores with metal doors. In the centre of each emplacement is former gun position marked by hold fast bolts sunk in the concrete base. (Source)

This anti-aircraft gun site formed part of the Inner Artillery Zone and saw a considerable amount of action during the Blitz of 1940-41 and are recorded as being in use on 76 consecutive nights. This site, designated ZE1, is the only remaining eight gun site of the north east sector. Most sites were decommissioned after the war so the survival of this location is all the more significant as a result. By 1942 ZE1 was designated a 'Master Gun Site' and had its own Radar with fire control responsibilities over adjacent sites. At its height it was manned by over 280 personnel, mostly drawn from the Royal Artillery. 

ZE1 really was in the front line against the Luftwaffe, being target by bombers on at least two occasions. Indeed the current owners of the surrounding gravel quarry site - Bretts Lafarge - uncovered a 250lb bomb in 2008 which had to be defused before its removal.

Unfortunately the ZE1 is not generally accessible to the public due to the ongoing quarry activities. However a recent council document indicated that access could be arranged with the Quarry Manager at Brett Lefarge Ltd by calling either of these numbers  0208 597 3744 or 0208 597 7131. I urge anyone that is interested in preserving this vital piece of WWII history to exercise this accessibility and keep the hope alive that one day this site may be restored.


  1. I never knew that was there and I only live in North Kent.

  2. I didn't know it existed until a couple of years ago when my Brother in Law told me about it.. and I live less than 4 miles from the site!

  3. Re Chadwell Heath Gun Site I was posted there in 1939,the huts and other buildings had not been finished then. The Battery was Left Troopof 155 Battery,theRight Troop was on the guns in Barking Park.At that time there was only four guns at each site,it was about late in 1941 that the troop from Barking came to Chadwell,four more guns were set up.Huts bombed,parade area blownup,lot & lots more.

  4. I was there today I took a walk passed the quarry and come across this amazing site and it is accessible there is a gate with a broken lock when I took a Stoll in there they're was loads of graffitid shelters when I went to walk into one of the big shelters and heard a noise got scared and ran off. It is very overgrown and I wish to go back there with a friend one day

  5. I visited the site in the 1960s It took me ages to find it as I was searching the area in Chadwell Heath until a local man with a wealth of local Knowledge told me the Gun Site was off Whalebone Lane, Marks Gate. I was most surprised that this site had 8 AA Guns rather than the usual 4, plus I was told there was a Radar Site a few hundred yards away to the South which also passed information to the AA Battery in Barking Park. It was virtually intact but I believe today its been vandalised. Some huts in the Camp entrance from Whalebone Lane are now shops.


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