Military In Sunderland, Tyne And Wear
WW1 acoustic mirror, which detected German Zeppelins as they approached the coast.
I love it when I stumble over a place that's totally new to me, and the Fulwell Coastal Watch Mirror is one of those places. I had seen something on TV recently about acoustic mirrors, but as there are only 10 left in the country, had never seen one. This one at Fulwell on Namey Hill popped up on maps recently, so we had to pay a visit.
The coastal watch mirror was built during WW1 in 1917, and was invented by Major William Sansome Tucker. Development of the acoustic mirror continued until the mid-1930s when radar made them redundant.
The acoustic mirror detected sound from German Zeppelins, giving a 15 minute warning that the Germans were on their way. A microphone would have been positioned on the plinth in front of the mirror and an operator hiding in a nearby trench would have heard the sound of the Zeppelins through headphones.
As mentioned, there are only 10 left in the country, mainly in Kent and along the North East Coast. If anyone has any photos of the others, we'd love to see them.
The acoustic mirror had been hidden behind weeds and nettles until fairly recently when work was undertaken to restore the area. In 2014, £68k from English Heritage, Sunderland Council and Heritage Lottery Fund was used to open out the area, an interpretation board was installed and the mirror itself was restored to it's former glory. Interestingly (to some!), repairs were made to the concrete dish and to make it look aged rather than brand new, diluted sheep droppings were used to tone in the repair work.
There is a blue plaque on the side of the mirror which claims it is convex, but we reckon it's concave. A little quirk of this amazing piece of history.
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Turn right from the parking place and continue along the path for 5 minutes. Just before the Pulman Garage, turn right along a path. The acoustic mirror is straight ahead.
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There is parking along a quiet road close to Miller and Carter Steakhouse restaurant. Parking in Miller and Carter car park is not recommended as it is for patrons only.
Contributed by Sandra Clemens
I love the great outdoors and have been a National Trust & English Heritage member for years. I also love going off the beaten track and finding places like Sharp's Folly or Rothley Castle which are hidden gems in Northumberland. My favourite recent hike was climbing Red Screes in the Lake District on a whim, not fully grasping how high 776m was. It was still an achievement to conquer a Wainwright walk and I hope to do more one day.
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