The concrete blocks that once protected Britain

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The concrete blocks that once protected Britain

The concrete blocks that once protected Britain

More than 100 years in the past acoustic mirrors alongside the coast of England have been used to come across the sound of coming near German zeppelins.

The concave concrete constructions have been designed to pick out up sound waves from enemy airplane, making it imaginable to expect their flight trajectory, giving sufficient time for floor forces to be alerted to shield the cities and towns of Britain.

the concrete blocks that once protected britain - The concrete blocks that once protected Britain

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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The sound replicate at Abbot’s Cliff, between Folkestone and Dover. “When I originally arrived at the cliff’s edge, the sun was creating a harsh shadow down the face of the concave which wouldn’t have done the structure any justice'” says Pettet-Smith. “I knew it was going to pass at some point so I just got my book out and waited. Around three or four hours passed and eventually the sunlight started making the eclipse in the concave that makes the picture what it is.”

Invented via Dr. William Sansome Tucke and referred to as sound mirrors, their construction persevered till the mid-1930s, when radar made them out of date.

Joe Pettet-Smith got down to the entire closing constructions following a dialog together with his father, who informed him about those huge concrete constructions dotted alongside the beach between Brighton and Dover.

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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“From what I can gather from old Ordnance Survey aerial photos, this sound mirror at Warden Point on the Isle of Sheppey used to be mounted on the neighbouring cliff, but has since fallen into the sea due to coastal erosion. When the tide is up it is nearly entirely submerged so I had to work out when the tide was going to be fully out to be able to photograph it. It was then a case of finding an angle that accentuated the curve of the surviving section of concave,” says Pettet-Smith.

“When I was a child my father told me stories about my grandfather and his involvement in radar,” says Pettet-Smith.

“One of his recurring joke’s has always gone along the lines of: ‘It’s not rocket science, I should know, my Dad was a rocket scientist.'”

Initially Pettet-Smith used to be interested in the circle of relatives connection, however after researching early airplane defence experiments, he changed into fascinated about the tale of the sound mirrors.

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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“When this structure was constructed in Redcar in about 1916 the surrounding area would have been marshland. It was built away from the population to avoid any intruding sound pollution,” says Pettet-Smith. “Today it stands on the edge of a housing estate. So there I was, tripod half on the pavement half off, jacket over my head framing up the picture when I notice a few bystanders have started to stop and stare. One lad said he passed by it every day but didn’t know what it was, let alone that it was one of many up and down the country.”

“I started to suppose an increasing number of in regards to the dating between artwork, science and the inventive procedure. Experimentation and in the long run failure are an intrinsic commonality of all 3.

“The sound replicate experiment, this concept of getting a series of concrete constructions going through the Channel the use of sound to come across the flight trajectory of enemy airplane, used to be simply that – an experiment. They attempted many alternative sizes and designs sooner than the mission used to be scrapped when radar used to be offered.

“The science was solid, but aircraft kept getting faster and quieter, which made them obsolete.”

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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“This is in a farmer’s field in Yorkshire,” says Pettet-Smith. “On Google Maps a landline number pops up for a caravan site next door. After speaking to them, I got the number for the chap who owns the field and he kindly said it was okay for me to cut across and photograph the structure. So my thanks go to Peter for this one. Luckily his sheep were in the next field along. Interestingly the Kilnsea mirror is one of the only structures to still have the remnants of the metal microphone pole that would have originally been used.”

Pettet-Smith used an previous picket huge layout plate digital camera to file the constructions, partially as a result of he sought after to make use of era that used to be round on the time, and secondly because it allowed him to right kind the point of view of the construction in-camera with out resorting to manipulation at a later date.

“Some of the structures were removed by local councils; many more were planned but never built. This series is a celebration and a cataloguing of all the remaining examples.”

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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“The design of the Selsey mirror in East Sussex matches structures on the Northern coast in Boulby, Redcar and Sunderland, but the opposite side has been bricked up,” says Pettet-Smith. “The letter box had a mobile number on it and so I left a voicemail. That evening Darren, the owner, called me back and we spoke at length about the sound mirrors and the peculiar history of the Selsey mirror. Unlike the other remaining mirrors, the Selsey mirror is a Grade II listed building and was converted into a domestic residence shortly after the end of World War Two.”

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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Boulby sound replicate at the Yorkshire coast

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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The sound replicate at Namey Hill in Fulwell, close to Sunderland

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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The sound replicate at Fan Bay, Dover, has a diameter of 15feet.

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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A bigger 30feet replicate may also be discovered close by.

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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There are 3 sound mirrors at the coast at Denge close to Dungeness. The first is 20feet.

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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Nearby sits this one, which is 30feet.

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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The biggest of them is a 200feet sound replicate.

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Joe Pettet-Smith

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The sound replicate at Hythe used to be inbuilt 1923.

All pictures via Joe Pettet-Smith

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