Kilnsea sound mirror

The acoustic mirror at Kilnsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire is one of a number built on the northeast coast of England during the First World War.

Photo of the Kilnsea acoustic mirror from the air
Photo: Rob Langham, 2009.

A forerunner of radar, they were intended to provide early warning of incoming enemy aeroplanes and airships about to attack east coast towns.

Photo of the sound mirror at Kilnsea
Photo: Mark Dyson, March 2003.

The mirror is made of concrete, with a dish about 15 feet in diameter in the side facing the sea.

It worked by focusing the noise of aircraft engines onto a microphone, which amplified the sound. In this way the relatively slow aircraft of the time could be heard and located before they came into view.

The microphone would have been fitted to the metal post set in a concrete block in front of the mirror. An operator would use headphones to listen for an approaching enemy.

Photo of the Kilnsea acoustic mirror amidst fields
Photo: Roland Schmellenkamp, September 2011.

With the development of faster aircraft the sound mirrors became less useful, as an aircraft would be within sight by the time it had been located.

Photo of the Kilnsea sound mirror
Photo: Andrew Grantham, December 2001.

The sound mirror stands behind a nature reserve in a field just north of Kilnsea at the landward end of Spurn Head. It is set back from the current coastline (which is eroding nearer every year), possibly to prevent the noise from waves breaking on the shore interfering with the operation of the mirror.

[Picture of the Kilnsea mirror from the south]
Photo: Andrew Grantham, December 2001.

Other sound mirrors were built at Boulby, Redcar, Hartlepool, Seaham and Sunderland. Further examples existed on the south coast.

Photo of the Kilnsea acoustic mirror amidst fields
Photo: Roland Schmellenkamp, September 2011.

Location


Photo of the Kilnsea acoustic mirror amidst fields

Photo: Roland Schmellenkamp, September 2011.

The mirror is roughly between Kilnsea Grange and the sea.


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