Redcar sound mirror interview

BBC interview about the sound mirror in Redcar: “In 1916 it was sitting in open farm land. Since then a modern housing estate has grown up around it. The concrete structure has not always been treated well. When it stopped being used to detect German raids a farmer used it as a spot to store manure. There have been problems with bike enthusiasts using it as a ramp to practice their stunts.” Release date: 22 January 2014.

Sound mirror art at the Royal Academy

Two pictures of the 30 foot sound mirror at Denge by Ian Chamberlain are included in the Royal Academy summer exhibition.

Chamberlain says “The idea of recording this defunct out of date technology relates with my current interests and proved to be a tough technical exercise capturing the form and surface quality of the dishes.”

Sunderland sound mirror restoration completed

The £68,000 restoration of the First World War sound mirror at Fulwell in Sunderland was completed with an unveiling ceremony on 9 June 2015.

Fulwell Acoustic Mirror is a 4m high concave concrete dish, constructed on the coast at Fulwell, Sunderland. Completed in 1917, it was designed to act as an acoustic early warning system against air raids, after a bomb dropped by a Zeppelin over the Wheatsheaf area of Sunderland in April 1916 left 22 people dead and more than 100 injured.

After many years of neglect the acoustic mirror’s crumbling condition led to the structure being included on the Historic England (previously known as English Heritage) Heritage at Risk register. This triggered a partnership between Sunderland City Council, Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund programme Limestone Landscapes, which has resulted in a glorious restoration, unveiled today, 9 June 2015.

The mirror worked by reflecting sound detected by a microphone in front of the dish to an operator with headphones who could alert the authorities of approaching Zeppelins. Using sound detection methods learnt in the trenches it was designed to give a 15 minute warning of approaching enemy airships.

In 2013 Sunderland City Council secured funding from Historic England. This, together with money allocated to Limestone Landscape Partnership from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), allowed the rescue to go ahead.

Source: Historic England

Sunderland North Young People under the supervision of Groundwork North East and the city council’s area response team cleared the undergrowth. Beaumont Brown Architects led the design work and supervised the repair and landscaping works. The Archaeological Practice Ltd undertook an archaeological assessment of the site alongside a number of other contractors who were involved in the restoration.

The restoration project used specially developed techniques including the use of diluted sheep droppings(!) to tone in the repair work.

The landscaping scheme includes gravel pathways, grassed picnic areas and a wildflower meadow including poppies. There is an interpretation panel with original artwork.

The Acoustic Mirror at Fulwell was part of a chain of important early acoustic detection devices along the coast of Britain and, as one of only four surviving examples in the North East, it is a rare survivor of our 20th century defences and a witness to the conflict of First World War. This has been a very successful partnership to repair and reveal the mirror’s history. It will take a step towards making sure the acoustic mirror will survive for many more years to come and come off our Heritage at Risk register.
Kate Wilson, Principal Adviser for Heritage at Risk for the North East, Historic England

More details at:

Zeppelins over the Northeast

To give early warning of raids, large concrete reflectors, or sound mirrors were built on the coast, to pick up the sound of airship engines with a microphone relaying the results to a nearby listener.

One sound mirror can be seen near Fulwell windmill in Sunderland.

Source: When war in the air came to the North East, Tony Henderson, The Journal, 3 February 2015.

2015 Denge sound mirror open day date

The 2015 open day at the Denge sound mirrors near Dungeness in Kent is on Sunday 19 July 2015. The opening times are 10.00-17.00, with last entry at 16.30.

There are full details at the Romney Marsh Countryside Project website:

The RMCP will be present all day to talk you through them and help with any questions and we ask for a donation per person to cover our costs for the day. You will need to park at Lade car park and follow the signs to make your own way to the Mirrors, where staff will be positioned at the bridge and on the island. Last entry 4.30pm. Suggested donation of £2 appreciated.

The RMCP events are the only way to visit the Denge sound mirrors. The events are always popular, and well worth going to.

Please note that I have absolutely no connection with the RMCP. Make you sure that you confirm the details of the open day with them before going – do not rely on my Sound Mirrors website!