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Section of First World War listening station which downed Zeppelins to be demolished for housing

PUBLISHED: 15:11 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:38 27 February 2019

The Poplars at Holme is made from a building which once housed a listening station. Picture: Steve Adams

The Poplars at Holme is made from a building which once housed a listening station. Picture: Steve Adams

Archant

An unassuming, abandoned bungalow in West Norfolk hides secrets within its walls from the First World War - but that could soon disappear with plans to tear it down for a new home.

The listening station at Old Hunstanton cliffs was located close to the lighthouse. Picture: Archant LibraryThe listening station at Old Hunstanton cliffs was located close to the lighthouse. Picture: Archant Library

The original parts of The Poplars, in Main Road, Holme, once stood on the cliffs of Old Hunstanton to form Hippisley Hut, a listening station which intercepted German naval and airship wireless signals during the war.

But the small part of history could be lost forever after a planning application to demolish the bungalow for a two-storey house has been recommended for approval.

Hippisley Hut was reportedly one of the first top-secret listening stations to be set up along the coast, and it proved so successful in tracking down Zeppelin airships that, by 1916, more U-boats had sunk and airships downed than in previous years thanks to the wireless interception and decryption.

After the war, one part of the hut was moved to Holme and extended to make a small family home for three generations, while the main building remained later became a self-catering holiday cottage.

The Hippisley Hut, at Old Hunstanton, Picture: Archant LibraryThe Hippisley Hut, at Old Hunstanton, Picture: Archant Library

But in the last couple of years, the bungalow had been sitting empty and laid to waste before it was taken over by AR&V Investments.

Plans have been submitted to West Norfolk council’s planning committee ahead of its meeting on Monday, March 4, to demolish the property to make way for a two storey house, a garage and new access, despite dozens of objections by villagers in the parish.

As Holme is situated in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), the scale and design of the proposed development had become a contentious issues for many people in the area.

A report to the planning committee states villagers opposed the size of the building and criticised its “ugly featureless brick wall and incongruous slate roof”.

The listening station at Old Hunstanton cliffs tracked German naval and airship wireless signals before imminent attacks. Picture: Ian BurtThe listening station at Old Hunstanton cliffs tracked German naval and airship wireless signals before imminent attacks. Picture: Ian Burt

The report also states that, while it is recognised the bungalow is one of two huts which formed the listening station, the bungalow “has been altered considerably over the years as a result of its conversion and is now outside its historical context on Old Hunstanton cliffs”.

It added: “The building is only part of the original structure, has been moved from its original location and has been altered internally and externally, therefore it is considered that the degree of significance has been compromised.”

It is the third time the application has been put forward to the planning committee, after previous applications were refused on the grounds of scale, height, mass and harmful extension into the AONB.

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