View Full Version : WWII Searchlight Emplacements

30-12-2011, 18:12
I wonder if any one can help please, Iíve been asked some questions regarding the location of WWII searchlight emplacements in the Derbyshire Peak District. Are there extant records of their locations, particularly in north Derbyshire, and more specifically on Mam Tor near Castleton (I find the Hill Fort location rather hard to believe! ) Iíve tried the Defence of Britain Archive, but nothing shows anywhere around the Hope Valley

Any advice would be much appreciated.


03-01-2012, 07:34

03-01-2012, 12:28
There was one in Edale near Upper Booth, I wasn't aware of one on Mam Tor but Pastscape does mention one (http://www.pastscape.org/hob.aspx?hob_id=309596&sort=4&search=all&criteria=SEARCHLIGHT DERBYSHIRE&rational=q&recordsperpage=10) on the search Peter has posted (and it appears on the Defence of Britain database, whilst the Upper Booth battery doesn't). Many years ago I spoke with a gentleman that was stationed with the searchlight battery in Edale. I may still have my notes, but it's getting on for 20 years since I was living there. I think there's a reference to the battery in one of the volumes of Dark Peak Aircraft Wrecks, but I don't have a copy available.

03-01-2012, 17:57
Thanks Peter that’s exactly what I was looking for. So there really was a WW II searchlight emplacement on Mam Tor. Presumably there would also have been a generator and some sort of accommodation for the operators – it must have been pretty grim up there in the winter months! I think I might visit the site in the summer to see if I can identify any features which may have been associated with the emplacement.

03-01-2012, 18:04
Thanks for the info Alastair.

03-01-2012, 19:35
You might also try the archives of the Edale Society, but I'm not sure if the society is still running, if someone in the valley still holds the archives, or if they've been transferred to County Archives in Matlock. A bit of detective work might be required.

04-01-2012, 10:21
Thanks Peter that’s exactly what I was looking for. So there really was a WW II searchlight emplacement on Mam Tor. Presumably there would also have been a generator and some sort of accommodation for the operators – it must have been pretty grim up there in the winter months! I think I might visit the site in the summer to see if I can identify any features which may have been associated with the emplacement.

Sorry I didn't have time to comment but I'm pleased it had what you wanted. A useful 'bookmark'

21-01-2012, 13:48
Amazingly, I bought a book on Saturday at Brierlow Bar bookshop, "Eyes (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eyes-Night-Defence-North-Western-England/dp/1844152960/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1327148256&sr=8-12)

On page 58, it describes the Edale Installation in December 1940. It's not really clear, but appears to have been close to coopers farm (which I think is in the middle of Edale). The accommodation was some ex-LDV wooden huts. I, One of the installations was a mobile installation with a Lister diesel Generator on the back of a truck to power the "large electric flares". These were like "large Chinese lanterns". The lights were to be setup "on an exact compass bearing as an isosceles triangle, base running east to west, and the point pointing north, The actual "lantern" installation was "up a hill", which may be anywhere around Edale! It was managed by AA HQ at Whaley Bridge. The lanterns gave off an "eerie glow".

It was located at the junction of two of the fighter patrol lines south of Manchester, the eastern end of Cotton South, and the southern end of Cotton East. The point was known as Cotton East. The operators were unaware of the use, but soon associated it with RAF fighters, as they soon appeared overhead when they were told to switch it on by the command "Lights Cotton East".

In the same installation was a searchlight unit, equipped with American Sperry 150 cm lights, and was used for searchlight homing, a procedure to guide pilots who were lost to the nearest airfield. There was a standard procedure (which I can't be bothered to type out!), The master searchlight was pointed vertically, switched on and it's elevation slowly decreased to 30 degrees so that it pointed as a finger in the sky towards the nearest airfield, which fired rockets.

Please see the following comment for more details.

21-01-2012, 14:15
And, even more.

refer to document: http://www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/MFF%20RR03%20Bevan%20B%202005%20Conservation%20her itage%20assessment%3B%20Edale%20valley.pdf

there is a small mention:

On the southern side of the valley are two to three run-in ventilation shafts with spoil
heaps (features 91.202, 91.331, 91.332). These are above the line of a level driven under
Rushup Edge, probably sometime between the 1730's and the 1860's, with the aim of
finding the Odin lead vein at depth. At the upper end of the valley bottom is a rare
example of surviving earthworks of a 1939-45 searchlight battery (feature 72), which
includes features associated with three searchlights, a listening device, two machine guns
and barracks.

And a bigger mention:

Three adjacent fields have narrow ridge and furrow, overlain by the searchlight battery
earthworks (72).
91.72. Searchlight Battery Earthworks
NGR: 410576 384786
A complex series of well-preserved earthworks which are the remains of a 1939-45
searchlight battery; the only one as yet recorded in the Peak National Park. The features
are as follows:
a: A searchlight site comprising two penannular earthen banks, like all the banks on
site originally built of sandbags (R. Cooper pers. comm.), with an entrance to the
ENE. The outer bank is the highest, is 2-3m wide, and has an external diameter of
14.5m. The entrance through it is 1.2m wide. The inner bank is a low, flat-topped
feature which is 2.0-2.5m wide and has an internal diameter of 3.0-3.5m. The
entrance through this is 1.7m wide. The central area is flat.
b: A searchlight site comprising two penannular earthen banks, with a 1.6m wide
entrance to the ESE, with a short outer bank protecting the entrance to the outside.
The outer bank is the highest, is 3.0m wide, and has an external diameter of 16.0m.
The inner bank is a low feature which is only 1.25m wide and has an internal
diameter of 5.0m. The central area is flat.
c: A searchlight site which has been largely removed, with only a short arc of what
was presumably an outer bank, surviving unploughed to the north next to the field
boundary. It has an outer diameter of c 15m.
d: A circular hollow of uncertain function, perhaps a quarry for sandbag material. It
has an outer diameter of 7.5m, with a slightly-raised boggy area at the centre.
e: A rectangular platform built of bricks. The site of a building measuring 5x8m in
f: The listening apparatus site. This comprises a circular bank which has an external
diameter of 17.0m and is 3.5m wide and 0.8m high. To the ENE is a narrow
entrance where the bank kinks outwards, and then runs across the line of the
entrance, to give added protection. There is a simple, 0.5m wide, break in the bank
to the SE. At the centre of the flat interior is a low brick wall defining a 1.1x1.3m
rectangular structure. This supported the listening apparatus, which resembled a
giant gramophone trumpet (R. Cooper pers. comm.).
37 g: Machine gun site. This comprises a semi-circular arc of bank with an external
diameter of 6.0m, with the other half of the feature being damaged and now only
present as a slight mound.
h: Machine gun site. A 7.0m diameter mound with a slight hollow at the centre. At the
east side is a bank-like extension to the mound which is c. 5.0m long.
i: A terraced building platform which measures c. 4.5x4.5m.
j: A terraced building platform which measures c. 6.5x4.5m.
k: A terraced building platform which measures c. 6.5x5.5m.
l: A terraced building platform which measures c. 12.0x6.0m.
m: A terraced building platform which measures c. 6.0x6.0m.
n: A terraced building platform which measures c. 12.0x6.0m.
o: A terraced building platform which measures c. 12.0x6.0m.
p: A terraced building platform which measures c. 5.5x4.0m.

I reckon that it is about here: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=edale&hl=en&ll=53.359407,-1.839279&spn=0.001369,0.004128&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=22.297654,67.631836&vpsrc=6&hnear=Edale,+Derbyshire,+United+Kingdom&t=h&z=19

21-01-2012, 21:04
If you look one screen-width to the east (here (http://g.co/maps/xzt86)) it looks like the remains are still visible..

(and yes, Cooper's farm is as far as I remember in the village centre - they run/ran the campsite and shop/post office opposite the school)

22-01-2012, 07:35
Wasn't the searchlight 'pointing' homing system codenamed SANDRA?

22-01-2012, 11:25
That's the area in question, there appears to be some bits in the wooded area, I'll have a look in the area probably next Saturday (I'm advised by the resident weather forecaster in the conservatory that next weekend's forecast is snow). The article does not mention "Sandra", it appears that the operators had no idea what they were actually doing, they were only following orders.

It was quite spooky actually. I had been looking at the remains of the Goldsitch Moss coalfield with a friend earlier that day (it's very obscure, at the back of the Roaches), went into Brierlow Bar bookshop, spotted the book (£6.99 - £10 cheaper than Amazon) and there was a picture of a JU88 crashed on Goldsitch Moss, and then started reading it, to discover a section on Edale when I remembered the query on here about MamTor!

Paul Francis
22-01-2012, 19:21
Really surprised the extant features were built using metric units (7.0m, 7.5m, 12m diameter etc) either these measurements are inaccurate or they were built by some foreign unit.

23-01-2012, 07:26
They were almost certainly built using Imperial Units of measurement but the modern day report has used Metric but, in my opinion, has rounded up or down the conversions.

That said, measuring an earth 'bank' bund or traverse built 70 odd years ago with any accuracy is impossible. Or have I missed your point Paul?

Curiously, even the USA military used metric to describe the mean diameter of a searchlight projector, e.g 90cm, 120cm but then so did the British Military in an era when Imperial Units ruled! Must have been a Continental import!

23-01-2012, 21:23
Thanks very much for providing this extremely interesting and useful info. Oh and by the way you have reminded me its time I visited Brierlow Bar again - an excellent bookshop!

12-02-2012, 10:12
I am not sure which tread this image best fits. It is filed under:

Aircraft Navigation and Guidance: MPs visiting No 554 Anti Aircraft Battery near Harwich watching a demonstration of a searchlight with radar equipment known as ELSIE - 90 cm Searchlight Control Radar (SLC) No 2 Mk VI - which entered service in 1942 and was of immense assistance to anti-aircraft when used against the flying bomb attacks of 1944.


Courtesy of Imperial War Museum IWMH28386.

12-02-2012, 19:04
As we are into pictures of searchlights, two coastal searchlight units at Blyth (NE) with the front doors now bricked up, and a memorial to the "Skylighters".



Alan Clark
28-02-2012, 02:04
The mention in Dark Peak Aircraft Wrecks (Vol.1) was about Blenheim Z5870 which crashed somewhere above Lee Farm on the southern side of Kinder. The wreck was discovered by one of the personnel from the searchlight unit.

Does anyone have any idea which Battery was responsible for the site in July 1941? Ron Collier never put that in DPAW.

24-03-2012, 21:02
Visited Today, very hazy day, The site makes more sense when you actually go to look.

These three pictures are of the mounds in the Parent Searchlight site:




I guess these rectangular mounds along the fence line are the accommodation huts. The site was obviously drained with a decent ditch all around.


I was told by a local chap that this "hill" was where the beacon lights, and generator were.

Nothing remains up there, I did investigate a square patch that was visible on Google Earth, only to find a family eating off the picnic table.

The hills are known locally as Barber Booth Tips, and are actually the excavation waste that was dumped from the construction of Cowburn Tunnel.


There are two interpretation boards in the area, sadly neither mentions the searchlight unit.

10-04-2012, 10:07

This thread came up on a search and I'm hoping you might be able to help! I'm looking for information on a searchlight emplacement in Burnopfield, near Gateshead (the Natinoal Trust property that owns the land are trying to build their own database of what's on it as currently there's nothing). I've had a look on the database mentioned but couldn't find it. Any thoughts on anywhere else to look? Thanks.

10-04-2012, 11:47
Try on here: http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/wwwfileroot/legacy/regen/locallist/tyne_and_wear_defence_sites.pdf

10-04-2012, 19:57
A quick look at Google Earth 1945 imagery shows this WW2 style feature near Gibside Hall, not a HAA site but possibly something smaller, like a searchlight site and a bit of accommodation - it's probably worth a mooch in the woodland there.



Now, we need a bit of history !

Peter Kirk
10-04-2012, 22:37
It's a pity there is nowhere to log all sites found. It would be useful as someone might have the answer.

11-04-2012, 02:53
It's a pity there is nowhere to log all sites found. It would be useful as someone might have the answer.

Fairly easy to create an online database to do it but how much info do you think ought to be included?
What sort of sites?
Lat, long, county, url of aerial image, notes?
Or more than that?

11-04-2012, 08:54
That books very useful, thanks! I'll have a better look at the maps and see if anything matches up.

@a10694: that's where I'm looking I think. It's pretty much complete as far as I can tell.

11-04-2012, 19:03
Is there anything in the woods? This site isn't logged in the Searchlighters website as being one of theirs.

Not bad for someone who lives near Chester !

12-04-2012, 23:10
The photo of the searchlight posted by Peter looks very familiar to me, we had one of these in a field near my home in Gt Horkesley in Essex for a short time. I think those in charge lived in tents and the searchlight had a very large canvas canvas cover if I remember correctly. This blew off when a friend and I were being entertained to a wad and a cup of tea, and we disappeared underneath it. My friend, Ashton, and i would have been six or seven at the time I guess, happy wartime memories!


03-04-2014, 19:41
Danebower Searchlight Unit, WW2, A54 Cat & Fiddle to Congleton road, near the site of Danebower Colliery, which is easily identified by the stone chimney, the searchlight site is a couple of hundred yards south, on the same side of the road.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/CujoU

It would be "just over the wall", but a vehicle had just removed the wall. There appears to be 3 flat & level circles, with a small mound around each, in a triangle layout, the furthermost now has a ring of vegetation. This site is not in the EDoB either, and I don't know the reason for this site either, unless it was simply another Sandra searchlight site, most realistically for RAF Cranage near Congleton. The three circles are quite distinct, but there may be more - it's hard to tell. The land falls away rapidly to the east.

Site identified from a list of 6 given to me by the Peak District Archaeologist.

Excuse the .... photo quality, it was foggy and raining, the weather was atrocious.

Google Earth


Small circular mound around one location




Easternmost site - surrounded by vegetation


Vehicular modified stone wall, right between the two sites closest to the wall, vegetation site in the distance


For location reference - Danebower colliery chimney, the searchlight site is about 1-200 yards south


03-04-2014, 19:44
Please could someone tell me why I cannot see my pictures via url's from Flickr. The pop up box to add pictures isn't working for me either. cheers

Alex Brown
03-04-2014, 20:32
Please could someone tell me why I cannot see my pictures via url's from Flickr. The pop up box to add pictures isn't working for me either. cheers

I can't see them either, but I can see a square through which I can access the link.

Not sure why so you will need to contact Dave (aixadmin)

Richard Flagg
03-04-2014, 20:35
Please could someone tell me why I cannot see my pictures via url's from Flickr. The pop up box to add pictures isn't working for me either. cheers

I am not sure on this as I don't use flickr. I know one or two on the forum use the site so they may be able to help, mawganmad springs to mind.

Not sure about the pop-up box, as Al says, AiXAdmin might have an idea on this one.


Peter Kirk
04-04-2014, 12:44
There is no link to edit when viewed in moderator mode as it just shows that red "X" and I can't therefore see the URL. No idea why though.

Chris Lowe
04-04-2014, 18:22
The Flickr image links are there if you look deeper into the code, I think this is one for Dave to look at.

05-04-2014, 12:46

I'm not familiar with flicker but I Googled it and visited the site - chose the first image I saw. Right clicked photo properties and copy/pasted the URL into the insert image location field (taking care to uncheck the retrieve remotely checkbox) and it appears to work OK. So not sure what the problem is - more info?

As this isn`t a searchlight related picture I'll delete later.

Alex Brown
05-04-2014, 17:29
But that's so cute!
Can we have a kittens in knitwear thread?

05-04-2014, 23:03
But that's so cute!
Can we have a kittens in knitwear thread?

Hear Hear!! Love all those whiskers, going to grow into a rather large cat I suspect if they are anything to go by!!

07-04-2014, 19:28
But that's so cute!
Let's hope it doesn't get outside otherwise it will probably become a:

Cat. 5(MISSING) (Missing - presumed lost).

07-04-2014, 20:12
Much as I'd like to continue with these feline friends will someone please respond to the Flicker issue raised earlier in this thread.... if you've PM'd me about this is issue check your PM's.
We really need to delete these posts and get back on topic... or I'll be CAT 5 (very apt)

Richard Flagg
07-04-2014, 21:34
Much as I'd like to continue with these feline friends will someone please respond to the Flicker issue raised earlier in this thread.... if you've PM'd me about this is issue check your PM's.
We really need to delete these posts and get back on topic... or I'll be CAT 5 (very apt)

I'll move them to a new thread soon!! ;-)

08-04-2014, 08:46
My Flickr photo display page had completely changed, there is an option on the new page to "share", including by "email" - which opens a new window to write an email. However, there is no URL given to paste somewhere else, all I can do is to copy the URL in the browser page address line. If I email the photo, it emails it, and gives a link to the photo, which is the same URL as the browser page address. Confused - looks like I'm an early user of a Flickr development if you ask me.

When I paste the photo URL in the AIX "insert image", it obviously does not know that it is a photo - it's a page address that will display the photo within Flickr, not something that ends in ".jpg". Useless springs to mind.

27-04-2014, 21:49
I've given up trying to display photos off Flickr.

Here is a link to some pictures of the Danebower Sandra searchlight site, just off the Cat & Fiddle to Congleton road, it is only a small flat piece of land, the land falls away rapidly on most sides. It must have been a desolate posting.


Here is a link to the Woodhead Sandra searchlight site, just on the south side of the Woodhead Pass, right on the summit. Near to a small turnoff, and located where the snow fences have been set back around the site. Quite distinctive earthworks.


28-04-2014, 14:50
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7131/13607683654_1f0ffb5fb9.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/mJsWgq)ge (https://flic.kr/p/mJsWgq) by y10694 (https://www.flickr.com/people/33351899@N00/), on Flickr

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7402/14039995324_9751f0eaa2.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/noEDsU)bing 1 - ps (https://flic.kr/p/noEDsU) by y10694 (https://www.flickr.com/people/33351899@N00/), on Flickr

seems to work for me click 'share this photo' on the right panel, in the pop out dialogue box click BBCode, (which is the step I think you are missing) select the size you want , copy the link and paste it

edit: this works in Chrome - when I subsequently try using IE it says that sharing is restricted when I click on BBCode

edit again:works in IE too (I hadn't noticed I was signed out)

30-06-2015, 13:02

2 things

Firstly - I need help locating more information about a searchlight location close to a village called Greetwell between Scunthorpe and Lincoln. I have the basic info off the HER but and trying to dig a little deeper and look at what else was around there.

Secondly - someone referred to Google Earth 1945 - how do I get this please? I used to be able to see the defence overlay on my mobile but it no longer works which is annoying.


02-07-2015, 09:36
Judging from GE and the DoB overlay the Greetwell site is now under a housing development. If the marker is correct (if) then it appears to have been at Washborough rather than Greetwell. But is this the same Greetwell? As this is to the east of Lincoln - not in the Scunthorpe direction.

The 1945 'rollback' does not cover the whole country and, unless someone else knows something I don't, that part of Lincolnshire isn't covered by it. You access it the same way as any other rollback date, on the relevant icon.

There was a Starfish site to the south west of Washborough, two more further east and Fiskerton airfield to the NE.

22-07-2015, 18:30
You may have tried this already, but I have been pursuing a similar task - trying to locate all searchlight and AA positions in Pembrokeshire and have found this approach useful.

You need to know which AA Division/Brigade had responsibility for your area of interest. If you then study their War Diaries in WO 166 at TNA, Kew, you are very likely to find very comprehensive "location statements" for the units its that comprise the Division/Brigade. These may give locations for searchlights etc as War Office Grid References (Different to modern Ordnance Survey National Grid!!!). In Pembrokeshire, the searchlight sites were given location codes, which seemed to change quite regularly!

Also, from the above War Diary, you will be able to track down (hopefully) the RA searchlight Regiments and Batteries that were stationed in the area. Looking at their War Diaries (if they still survive - most, but not all did) will give you even more info.

I am sorry if this is "Teaching Granny How to Suck Eggs"!!

It may be, that in Pembrokeshire, I have struck lucky with the quality of the records that survive. Good luck!

Peter Kirk
22-07-2015, 20:46
If you have access to aerial photos locations can easily be proven. I gather a regular at Historic England requests coverage for AA sites - anyone on here?

You should do Kent as it is all on GE and not censored either.

22-07-2015, 20:58
I've been picking my way through EH's coverage of Nottinghamshire's AA & searchlight sites over the last decade. For the SLS's, I need some local knowledge for a steer first, so I'm keen to look into WO166 stuff to fill the gaps. Trouble is, I don't know how the army works- all this Brigade and Branch stuff confuses me. Once I know what to ask for, I'll add them to my next visit.