Newchurch Village > History > Newchurch in WWII > Early Aircraft Detection Systems

Early Aircraft Detection Systems

Due to its flat terrain and its important position close to France, Romney Marsh was selected for experiments to detect aircraft approaching.  In 1924, 32 ‘listening discs’ were constructed across the marsh, in 2 straight parallel lines three miles apart with each disc half a mile apart. These discs, some 20 feet across with microphones in the centre, were all controlled from The Newchurch Hut.


The discs were connected to The Newchurch Hut by cables, which supplied the current for the microphones and the impulses back to the scientists at The Newchurch Hut.

These listening discs were superceded by microphones installed on masts in about 1930. The first was ‘Lofty’, some 156 feet high built at Newchurch close to the hut on land owned by Mr. Palmar. Due to its height, lighting was later installed to avoid collisions by low flying aircraft. As there was no mains gas or electricity at Newchurch, these lights were fuelled by a bank of gas cylinders. Later another shorter mast was built close to the first and two more near Old Romney. These continued to be connected to The Newchurch Hut where the civilian scientists worked with their technical and secret equipment until about 1932.

The two towers at Newchurch,

The two towers at Newchurch "Lofty" and "Titch" 

The Newchurch Hut  HQ for pre-radar Early Aircraft Detection Devices

The Newchurch Hut
HQ for pre-radar Early Aircraft Detection Devices

Bombing Insurance

Would you believe that people would take out insurance against damage from bombs falling on Romney Marsh?

Mr Homewood of Wills Farm did in 1918. It cost 2 shillings a year which in 2022 would have been worth £6.72 for a sum insured of £6616 a premium rate of only 0.1%!

Click here to view a larger copy of this insurance document


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