RAF Happisburgh

Everyone I mean *everyone* in North Norfolk, and the Eastern bit of North Norfolk, or East Norfolk as I like to call it when I’m a bit y’know, not from London or the home counties, knows Happisburgh. It’s the most interesting bit of Norfolk Coast. This is one of the reasons why, amongst many, the many being interesting clays and sands, glacial landscapes, evidence of man over 900,000 years ago, and it looks nice. …and of course the much photographed upside down pillbox on the beach, I defy you not to take a photo of it. Anyway this bit is about RAF Happisburgh, the almost invisible RAF base on the clifftop this pillbox fell off. Happisburgh is where Mal Peet and his girlfriend turn up in his book Life an exploded diagram,

Below is the North gun Emplacement, which I think is called the West gun emplacement officially. It’s the top one anyway. There are two casements which would each have had a 4.7 inch naval gun in them, built to replace an older set apparently which were a bit close to the edge, or “in the sea” as we call it 70 years later. You can still see the gun mount on the floor.

They’re interesting lumps of brick and concrete, sitting just off the coastal path to the North of Happisburgh. two in total, with a voluntary coast guard type thing sitting in the middle.

There is a tunnel system under here, several entrances, one bricked up, one covered by a concrete slab, and two open. One of the open ones is in the other emplacement, it’s full of rubbish, but look accessible, the other involves climbing down a hole in the field which you’ll have to find, I couldn’t be bothered. If you’re the type that puts on a cold war gas mask and take HDR photos of your mates dressed as ghouls or smurfs or something, you’re most welcome to have a look, I’m not.

Happisburgh not one of those places you think of as an RAF base, it wasn’t ever one that had aircraft or runways. The site is in two parts, in this photo you can see a bit of both.

The pillbox is to the rear of two brick built gun emplacements, built to keep an eye on shipping and so on in the North Sea, this pillbox was it’s protection, a hexagonal brick jacketed concrete built one, now long since abandoned the door has been bricked up and manure kept in a fairly large pile around it.

To the left you can just make out a block in the field this is the radar station, the buildings are still there as are the four footings for the large tower that would have once stood there, it too was built in 1940, operational from 1941, closed after the war with Trimingham taking over “watching enemy stuff” duties during the cold war.

I’m lead to believe that both sites replace ones that predate them, the gun emplacements were under threat from cliff erosion, as they in fact are again today, and cow shit too, as was I.

It’s near Stalham and unsurprisingly Happisburgh just so you know, I’m nice like that telling you, go and have a look, it’s your history that’s falling in the sea.