Published 7 Nov 2018
Long before early warning systems such as Fylingdales were operational, the military still needed to know what was 'out there' (as illustrated by the tragic bombardment of Hartlepool and Scarborough in 1914 by German forces).
An answer to this problem of pre-radar intelligence was found via the use of acoustic mirrors which were deployed to act as 'magnifying ears' whereby incoming aircraft were identified by the sound of their engines. This programme was led by Dr William Sansome Tucker, and resulted in a chain of listening posts being built at strategic points along the coastline of Britain. The methodology of linking these stations to pin point aircraft was useful in the development of early radar systems; increasing aircraft speeds in the 1930s highlighted the mirrors' limitations and the Chain Home project ensued. .
Although Hartlepool's sound mirror has long since vanished (it is believed to have been located near Clavering School), there are others which can still be found standing along the coastline. One of the nearest of these (which can be accessed easily by the public) lies just behind Sunderland's Fulwell Mill. This features in Andrew Grantham's excellent web site, a link to which is given below - it's fascinating to see how such a simple method of defence led to sophisticated systems in use today.
This acoustic mirror is easy to visit. It stands on Namey Hill, Newcastle Road, Fulwell. The City of Sunderland website has a map showing it's location.
Tags:#Sunderland # WW1 # History #