Friday, 9 March 2012

Danby Beacon

The T/X Aerials with Danby Signal Beacon in the foreground

The backbone of the radar provision surrounding the UK in the Second World War was the Chain Home System. Two main types of Chain Home System were built - AMES Type 1 (Air Ministry Experimental Station) and AMES Type 2 or the Chain Low System. Royal Air Force Danby Beacon Chain Home Station (AMES Type 1) was located high up on the North Yorkshire moors and was one of twenty built along the eastern coastline. The system was based on the pattern of the experimental establishment set up at Bawdsey in 1936, and in its final form it consisted of equipment housed in protected buildings with transmitter aerials suspended from 107 metre steel towers and receiver aerials mounted on 73 metre timber towers. The system at Danby Beacon was provided with buried reserve equipment which consisted of underground transmitter and receiver block, now only the buried reserves of the transmitter and receiver survive. The station was technically restored in the early 1950s as part of the Rotor programme. In all it comprised three components: the technical site, a domestic site for personnel equipment, and a stand-by set house. 
English Heritage.

CO's house (far left), army billets and one of the R/X Aerials

Now covered over by years of moorland vegetation the remains of the defunct Chain Home System Radar Station on Danby Low Moor seems to sit comfortable within the moor's Neolithic surroundings. The three low mounds - R/X Block, Standby Power House and T/X Block - which stretch across the open land have long since taken on the appearance of the many tumuli and howes that litter the immediate area. It is only when you realise that the would be processional avenue running through the centre of the site is actually made of concrete that any influence the ancient landscape may have on the area is all but undone.

R/X Block - Mound No1

Standby Power House - Mound No2

T/X Block - Mound No3

Concrete Drive/Processional Avenue

On closer inspection of the site it becomes evident the it’s decommissioning in 1957 may well have been completed with very little ceremony, the smashed up shards of concrete and the twists re-enforcement bars bare witness to the station's seemingly abrupt demise.

Entrance to Mound No1

Entrance to Mound No2

Mound No1 - Interior

Mound No2 - Interior

On further investigation the site begins to reveal numerous objects of interest scattered amongst the thick mat of gorse and heather.

Anchor point for a T/X Mast

AA Gun mount found on the perimeter of the site

But possibly the most interesting aspect of the whole site is the fact that is was built virtually on top of an already existing, more ancient early warning system.

The Danby Beacon was just one part of a system of beacon lights that were situated at specific points along the whole coastline. Throughout the centuries they would have been used to quickly alert the entire region of any impending invasions from the numerous enemies England had accumulated over ages. The modern beacon - seen in the photographs above - was erected in 2008, but it is thought that a beacon may have existed on this site since at least the 1600's - although it has to be said that when you stand surrounded by this ancient landscape it is easy to believe that the place has far more significance and meaning than the land itself is actually willing to reveal. 

Follow the link for an earlier post involving the radar station.

1 comment:

Mike Forrrow said...

I often ran down that path to start the standby generator when there was a power failure. We had 5 mins to get back on the air. The big diesel usualy started easily using stored compressed air - but the litle petrol set used to recharge the air cylinder was a pig - it could kick back like a donkey!
At other times it was a stroll down to the receiver block for a coffee (Camp) with condensed milk, served up by one of the wraf operators. Happy days!
Mike Forrow