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World War II Swingate Chain Home Radar Station Masts, Dover Harbour, Kent, UK

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John Latter on February 6, 2011

On the skyline are the two remaining masts (originally four) of the Second World War Swingate Chain Home Radar Station, also known as RAF Swingate and Swingate Transmitting Station.

Chain Home was the codename for the ring of coastal Early Warning radar stations built by the British before and during the Second World War.

The system, otherwise known as AMES Type 1 (Air Ministry Experimental Station), consisted of radar fixed on top of a radio tower mast, called a 'station' to provide long-range detection of aircraft.

This system had shortcomings in not being able to detect aircraft at lower altitudes and thus was used in conjunction with the Chain Home Low system, or AMES Type 2, which could detect aircraft flying at minimum altitude level of 500 feet (1).

There's more information attached to the Swingate Chain Home Radar Station from Horseshoe Bastion, Dover Castle photo.

This image also contains a view of the eight red-bricked old coastguard cottages set at right-angles to the cliff-edge of the White Cliffs of Dover immediately above the Eastern Docks, the ferry terminal area of Dover Harbour on the south-eastern coast of England.

The terrace of coastguard cottages are considered to be late Victorian, "of brick construction under a high pitched slate tiled roof and accessed via an unadopted road" (2), with the one on the right-hand end once occupied by the "Chief Coastguard": click to see the close-up Victorian Coastguard Cottages, Broadlees Bottom above East Cliff and panoramic Coastguard Cottages at Broadlees Bottom from Dover Harbour photos.

To the right of the cottages, the ground rises to Langdon Cliffs (a chalk downland nature reserve owned by the National Trust) where the modern Dover Coastguard Station is located.

To the left, the ground drops away to the Jubilee Way bypass (3) and then rises again to the Eastern Heights which are occupied by the out-of-shot Dover Castle (12th Century Norman, built upon earlier Saxon, Roman, and Iron Age fortifications).

Beginning at the Whitfield Roundabout, the A2 Jubilee Way bypass subsequently emerges from the lowest point in Broadlees Bottom to sweep over the landward end of the Eastern Docks before curving back on itself to "touch down" at a roundabout (out-of-shot to the left) where it meet the A20 at the ferry terminal entrance.

The photo was taken from near the lighthouse end of the Prince of Wales Pier at 11.21 am on Sunday, 9th of January, 2011, during the arrival of the P&O Ferries MS Spirit of Britain 49,000 ton super-ferry.

(1) Chain Home

(2) Property sales description at Globrix

(3) Wikipedia entry for A2 road (Great Britain):

The A2 is a major road in southern England, connecting London with the English Channel port of Dover in Kent. This route has always been of importance as a connection between the British capital of London and sea trade routes to Continental Europe. It was formerly known as the Dover Road.

The original A2 roughly followed the route of a Celtic ancient trackway which the Romans later paved and identified as Iter III on the Antonine Itinerary. The Anglo-Saxons named it Wæcelinga Stræt (Waecelinga Straet) which developed into the modern Watling Street. It was one of the most important Roman roads in Britain, since it linked London with Canterbury, and from there to three Channel ports: Richborough (Rutupiae); Dover (Dubris) and Lympne (Lemanis).

John Latter / Jorolat

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on January 23, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/01/09 11:21:53
    • Exposure: 0.006s (1/160)
    • Focal Length: 0.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/11.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash