Report - - North weald Redoubt, Essex - December 2014 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - North weald Redoubt, Essex - December 2014


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So this is more of a bump on the site, it's so those new to UE in the surrounding area (Essex, London) can see this is easily doable and great to show us you're genuine rather than just straight away asking to meet up with people, requesting access etc. We want to see your pics too! :) Contributing to the site will help you get more from it. :thumb

Hope everyone enjoys it, despite the blandness of it. :p:

What's a redoubt?

Thought I'd add this in as I didn't know what one was either before hand.

A redoubt (historically redout)is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, although others are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a hastily-constructed temporary fortification. The word means "a place of retreat". Redoubts were a component of the military strategies of most European empires during the colonial era, especially in the outer works of Vauban-style fortresses made popular during the 17th century, although the concept of redoubts has existed since medieval times. A redoubt differs from a redan in that the redan is open in the rear, whereas the redoubt was considered an enclosed work.

The advent of mobile warfare in the 20th century generally diminished the importance of the defence of static positions and siege warfare.
Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redoubt

History of Northweald Redoubt

13 Mobilisation Centres were built between 1889 and 1903 as part of the London Defence Scheme. These were not planned as forts although some of them would have been armed on mobilisation. Their main function was as a store for guns, small arms ammunition, tools and other equipment required for the batteries and infantry allocated for the defence of the neighbourhood in the event of a foreign invasion. The casemates could also be used as barrack accommodation.


The North Weald Redoubt was the first of the mobilisation centres to be constructed and the only fortified centre north of the Thames. It was located on high ground to the south of North Weald Bassett and faced north east with good command of the ground to its front and sides. It was described in 1903 as "situated on a commanding knoll" and that "from mile 17 to 19 the road is commanded by North Weald Fort; a distance about 2 miles east"

Although based on the Twydall profile (an experimental project at Twydall, near Chatham, in which low profile earthwork defences replaced the permanent ditch and rampart defences of a few decades earlier with a resultant low profile), its location was given away by being positioned on a high point. In plan the rampart was roughly semicircular in shape some 500 feet across. In the ditch at the foot of the rampart was an 8 foot high unclimbable or Dacoit steel fence that terminated at each end of the gorge casemates. Behind the rampart, in an arc, were three magazines for cartridges and shells, with shafts to supply the guns above. The flat concrete roof above the magazines was made thicker than that of the adjacent chambers and unusually, not earth covered. No reinforcement to the concrete can be seen so, if the roofs are reinforced, this must be within the thickness of the concrete. All three cartridge stores were entered through shifting lobbies and illuminated by lamps placed in recesses from the adjacent chambers. The lamps for these were kept in a centrally placed lamp room. Between the magazines were two pairs of gun casemates (to shelter the guns in) flanked by two pairs of artillery general stores. It is recorded that doors were never provided to these gun casemates though hinge hooks were fitted to take them.

One cartridge store appears to have had a problem with damp as a gully runs along the rear of the chamber discharging through the wall to the shifting lobby entrance. This opening was covered by a small grill identical to those for the vents to the lamp recesses.

Also here, dividing the above into three blocks, were the entrances to two tunnels that passed through the rampart and emerged in two hollows in its forward. These hollows and others each side of them, formed a discontinuous secondary rampart or 'fausse-braye'. Manned by riflemen, they would have allowed the parapet to be kept clear for the artillery that the fort was designed to mount. This arrangement was advantageous for the troops manning them as their heads would not be silhouetted against the skyline. So these hollows would not flood in heavy rain, each was provided with a drain. Some thought went into the design of the tunnels, the thickness of the concrete roofs increased in steps towards the outer end, as the thickness of the earth cover above decreased.

At the rear, a dry ditch closed off entry to the site. The ditch scarp was formed by a row of casemates with a parados above.

These casemates were used to store the tools and other equipment to aid construct of the defence position. A pair of doors to one of these casemates, with the inscription "Shell Store No 2' would suggest that shells may have been stored in these gorge casemates. If shells were stored here, they would have been for the external batteries, the shell stores inside the work supplying the guns on the rampart only. To allow easy removal of the contents of the gorge casemates, two ramps entered the longer section of ditch, one at each end. This would have allowed wagons to enter down one, load and exit by the other. When emptied, the casemates were to form a somewhat Spartan accommodation for 72 soldiers.

The ditch was defended by rifle fire from a caponier and loopholes in the steel doors of the gorge casemates. To prevent the caponier being rushed there was a V shaped drop ditch each side of it. Individual smoke vents were provided above the loopholes in the doors, with larger louvered ones serving the caponier.

Entrance to the Redoubt was over the top of the caponier, the roof of it doubling as a road. Two concrete pillars held gates to block passage to the interior in event of attack. The gates were of the same style as the unclimbable fence around the site and contained a wicket gate.

No emplacements were provided for artillery, they would have been dug, on mobilisation, in the six promontories in the rampart. During a bombardment the guns would have been sheltered in the gun casemates until needed. It is not known what the armament of the Redoubt was intended to be, probably, it was not intended for any specific gun, rather it was intended to accommodate any of the likely candidates at the time. In the event it would have been 2O pounder R.B.L. (Rifled breech loader) Armstrong's (later replaced with 15pounder BL's), with which the Volunteer Artillery allocated to this position were equipped at the time. A number of factors about the redoubt's design suggest that four guns would have been emplaced in the central positions with a quick firing or machine gun in each flank position.

Rainwater was collected in six cast-iron cisterns and two concrete tanks, one set into the parados and the other in the counterscarp of the ditch. The total capacity of these was 6217 gallons. To the rear were the caretakers cottages, one contemporary with the Redoubt and the second added three years later, both of different designs. North Weald was unusual in this respect, elsewhere accommodation was provided for two caretakers from the outset in semi detached accommodation.

In 1903/04 shell and cartridge stores holding 7,200 x 4.7-inch shells and cartridges respectively were built at the rear, to the side of the caretakers cottages. These buildings were to provide increased ammunition storage capacity needed when the Volunteer Artillery re-equipped with 4.7 inch and 1 5pounder BL Guns. Rainwater was collected from their roofs in an additional 5,000 gallon underground tank.

There was also an intention to build a tent and blanket store between the cottages and the ammunition stores. Currently there is a much altered building on this site, but it is not clear if this was a later addition.

North Weald was also to have housed the ammunition for the adjacent Kelvedon Hatch sector, which did not have a mobilisation centre of its own.

When the London Defence Scheme was abandoned in 1906, the Redoubt was retained as an ammunition store. In World War I the line of the London Defence Positions was reactivated as the inner stop line to resist a German invasion, though continuing on to Broxbourne rather than stopping at Epping as previously.

The Marconi Co. brought the site and the surrounding land in 1920 and set up the Ongar Radio Station. Control of the site then passed in turn to the Imperial & International Communication Company, Cable & Wireless, the Post Office, British Telecom and, following its sale by British Telecom in 1995, to property developers.

During World War II, because of the importance of the radio station, it was classed as a Vulnerable Point. Special VP Troops were stationed there to protect it and two Allen Williams Turrets were installed, one on each flank. One former cartridge magazine was used as a dressing station, a faded red cross and the words 'First Aid' can be made out on the wail of the former shifting lobby.

The Redoubt is a scheduled ancient monument and while surviving remarkably intact down the years thanks to its previous owners, who maintained it to a large degree, the redoubt now stands empty and subject to the attention of vandals, both official and otherwise. Considerable damage has now been done, mainly to the caretakers cottages and external ammunition stores. The 'dry' ditch at the rear is now often wet due to a blocked drain, flooding the gorge casemates to their long term detriment.

It was hoped that some restoration would be done, probably as a 'sweetener' for the proposed redevelopment of the former radio station site by the new owners. The former radio station buildings were demolished after a fire in 1997 leaving the Redoubt and ancillary buildings standing. A new fences has been installed around the Redoubt but this has already been breeched and the site still open to local vandals and other casual visitors.

(http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/n/north_weald_ mobilisation_centre/index4.shtml)

Present site

The site has suffered a lot of flooding and the water levels have slowly crept higher and higher, I'll go back in the summer with wadorz. :p:

The radio station has just fallen into an awful state or derp.

The turrets have been defaced with poor graf and the trees have taken over.

All is not lost, the concrete looks pretty strong and if tanked, I'm sure this place would make something fun, airsoft? playground? house? :D

It is listed but little has been done to keep it in any kind of fit state, which is obviously a shame. I'd love to have one of those turrets, such a shame they've been left to rot, 2 of only 33 remaining in the world I believe.


Despite being listed and having some important member of North weald warn trespassers to stop trespassing on the land, nothing has been done to secure the site, preserve it or re-use it.

English heritage: http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1018456

This was proposed in 2009: (http://rds.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=18374&Opt=3)

The Committee noted that in July 1998, Council had granted permission for the redevelopment of the former radio station at North Weald Bassett including a Section 106 Agreement providing the payment of £100,000 to this Council for (a) £30,000 to be used for the future management and maintenance of the Essex Redoubt (a Scheduled Monument) in accordance with a management strategy that the Council was previously to have approved; and (b) £70,000 for the laying out and future maintenance of a pocket park and car park.

The money for the Redoubt had been retained by this Council. The Peer Group and English Heritage had tried to identify the best way to use the money in the longer-term interests of the Redoubt and had asked that the remaining Section 106 monies be used to prepare a Conservation Management Plan for the Redoubt.

Officers had presented a report to the Committee on 5 February 2008 proposing that £20,000 of the Section 106 monies should be used for preparation of the Management Plan, provided it was matched by a similar sum from the Peer Group. At that time, the Committee concluded that, rather than spending part of the retained sum on the preparation of such a plan, it would be better spent on enhancements to the site, and that officers should consider how the Management Plan might be prepared without recourse to the retained monies.

The Peer Group had now requested the return of the retained monies so that it could be spent on the management and maintenance of the Redoubt. The Committee considered the request in light of officer advice and concluded that as, in this case the Council could not spend the contribution itself, and the owner retained the maintenance and security responsibilities, it was appropriate for the Council to return the contribution, given the period of time which had elapsed since the original permission was granted.


(1) That the negotiations with the Peer Group regarding the future of The Redoubt on the basis of the following options be noted:

(a) utilising £20,000 of Section 106 funds to develop a management plan for the site;

(b) returning £30,000 of section 106 agreement funds to Peer Group;

(2) That it be noted that the Peer Group favour option 1(b) above;

(3) That the outstanding Section 106 sum of £30,000 be returned to the Peer Group; and

(4) That the company be reminded of its responsibilities for the security of, safety and maintenance of the Redoubt under the Section 106 Agreement.

The visit

Wanted to get out for an hour or two locally with my new fisheye, found this, then we were in North weald.

Visited with a non member, been with me a few times and had a good laugh, the place looks a bit crap, but with a few friends I reckon it'll make for a good little visit!

Access was easy, no security, Landies zoomed passed and really didn't bat an eye lid, so did dog walkers. Got a few pics then we were off home. :thumb

As I say, if you're new, not sure if you like UE, or just bored. Give it a shot, share a few pics and who knows, maybe you'll make some friends and visit a few other sites. :)

The pictures

New camera, 2 lenses

Nice and wide



Loved these turrets, thought they were nice and small, looked great


More wide curves


Ongar radio, not that interesting




Mono window


Nice bit of warm evening sun


Snazzy shoe now looking not so snazzy


Reflections and stuff


The mast



Cheers for looking! :)




28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Cracking pictures, can't believe how flooded it is, I went there 6 odd years ago and you could walk in to every part of the site, also the radio station was not so smashed up.
Did you find the second AW turret?

Cheers newage


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Cracking pictures, can't believe how flooded it is, I went there 6 odd years ago and you could walk in to every part of the site, also the radio station was not so smashed up.
Did you find the second AW turret?

Cheers newage
Yeah man, got in both Allen William turrets. The other was flooded and had a but more graf on it which is a real shame. We'll return with some wellys/waders in the summer and get in those tunnels. :) Wasn't too bad an explore to be honest.


I think a site survey needs to be carried out by English Heritage paying attention to the out dry ditch and drain ways, as I feel they are blocked or have collapsed, since being a hill top site with good drainage in its day and above the water table?, this would account for the currant flooding.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
I think a site survey needs to be carried out by English Heritage paying attention to the out dry ditch and drain ways, as I feel they are blocked or have collapsed, since being a hill top site with good drainage in its day and above the water table?, this would account for the currant flooding.
I agree. Real shame it is flooded. Apparently it used to drain away after a dry spell, but I think that may not be true any more. The water has clearly rested there for a while. A real shame as I assume it can't be doing much good on this site.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
It was completely dry when I was there a few years ago, but that was a dry summer. There's a lot more to this site around the back, but again needs to be dry for a visit.


I have a small culvert at the rear of my property which drains away the roof drains of the row of houses as they are not connected to the drains. a few years ago it became clogged up with branches blown of nearby trees and combined with leaves and plastic shopping bags started to slow down the flow. This is a mild example of how neglect starts to set in in a very short span of time, and at the North Weald Redoubt young sapling no doubt are growing in the ditches, helping to form blockages.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Cheers for that Ordnance, hopefully someone gives it some care. It's an interesting structure and It's amazing it's even in the state it's in now. It's been through a lot and survived quite a bit. Amazing how they built things like this. :thumb

Ellie Warwick

28DL Member
28DL Member
Hello, i'm thinking about doing a photography shoot here for my assignment. Just a quick question, did you tresspass or do you have to ask someone for permission to enter the site? Or is there any fences to stop you from tresspassing?

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