What: Heavy anti-aircraft gun battery
Where: Worms' Heath, Warlingham, Surrey
Last Known Condition: Good
Page Updated: February 2014
In 1946, following the end of the Second World War a review of anti-aircraft defences code-named 'Nucleus' was implemented to determine which would be retained and which would be disposed of.
Out of around 1000 Heavy Anti-Aircraft batteries in use during wartime, just 210 were to be retained and re-equipped under the new scheme. By 1951 with the threat of nuclear war looming, Nucleus had developed into the Igloo scheme. A total of 78 new Heavy Anti-Aircraft sites were initially proposed with permanently mounted guns at 54 sites.
[click images below to expand & enlarge]
Worms' Heath was just one of these new batteries, probably constructed in 1951 at the same time as Pendell Anti-Aicraft Operations Room (AAOR) near Merstham from which it and the other guns of the London South Gun-Defended Area were administered.
Unlike their Second World War predecessors at other sites, the four octagonal 3.7" gun emplacements here are open on two sides and have just four ammunition lockers each (WWII emplacements had six). Two reinforced rooms adjoin the walls on the outside of each emplacement; a small crew shelter and an engine room with a hydraulic pump to train the guns and power the automatic loading mechanisms.
The layout is also slightly different to Second World War sites with the four emplacements laid out in a shallow arc. If there were ever associated structures such as magazines and a command post, they have been cleared away, probably lost under the National Air Traffic Services wireless station now standing to the north. It's possible that these facilities were housed in Nissen huts and so fared less well than the gunpits themselves. The site was connected by telephone line to the AAOR and a GPO telephone termination point is still visible located in a wire-fenced compound to the eastern end of the concrete hardstanding.
The site was probably abandoned c.1960 when Pendell also became redundant (later to become the the Metropolitan Police's southern war HQ) but for reasons of national security did not appear on any OS maps until the mid '60s.
Since this article was first published, it has been brought to my attention that the site is regularly used for shooting and target practice. It is therefore potentially dangerous and must not be visited without permission.
English Heritage, 2007, 'HEAVY ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY LS49'
&mapipc=] Accessed 19/09/11
Catford, Nick, 2004 'Site Name: Penketh 3.7" Heavy
Anti Aircraft Battery (MY76)' [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/p/penketh_haa/index.html] Accessed 19/09/11