Ottercops Moss Chain Home radar station (CH.40) was located beside the A696 on the high ground halfway between the villages of Elsdon and Kirkwhelpington. The original intention was for the site to be built at Steng Cross further north but objections from landowner Lady Trevelyan of Wallington Hall resulted in a rethink and an alternative site was chosen at Mount Gilbert on Ottercops Moss.
Built in June 1939, this vast site, consisting of four 360 feet tall steel transmitter towers positioned 180 feet apart, and four wooden receiver towers 240 feet tall, was one of the last Chain Home stations to become operational. The delay was caused by the poor ground conditions at the alternative site causing great difficulty with the contractors who were unable to find solid foundations. Test holes dug found the peat to be 25ft deep in places and this probably accounts for the large spread of the site.
The transmitters were located on the top of Mount Gilbert facing north east, whilst the receivers were positioned 420 yards to the south east. Protecting the site were roadblocks, pillboxes and several anti aircraft positions.
Ottercops Moss Chain Home radar station is an ongoing project of ours and we have made several trips to the area recording and identifying the remaining structures. Sadly many of the buildings, including the two large transmitter and receiver bunkers were demolished in the late 1940’s after the site had been mothballed in July 1944.
Its claim to fame? Ottercops Moss was the radar station which first plotted Rudolf Hess en-route to Scotland in his failed attempt to bring Britain to the negotiating table.
Watch this space as we continue to research this interesting site.