* What is a sound Mirror?
Sound mirrors were large concrete dishes that were built around Britain’s coast to listen out for the threat of approaching Zeppelins in the First World War. The sound of the Zeppelin’s engines would be reflected by the concave dish and focused at its centre. An operator would then use a stethascope type device attached to a metal trumpet to listen to the reflected sounds and give an early warning to people along the coast.
Hartlepool was targeted by Zeppelins three times, twice in 1916 and once in 1918. In November 1916 a Zeppelin was shot down over the town, bursting into flames and crashing into the sea. The network of sound mirrors along the coast were an important part of the defences against the Zeppelins providing information about when they were coming, and the direction from which they were approaching before they were visible over the horizon.
The Sound Mirrors could give around 20 minutes warning of an approaching Zeppelin but it is not really known how effective they were because of the secrecy that surrounded them. It is perhaps also because of this secrecy that people did not know what they were and why these incredible structures were demolished, disappearing from our coastline.
* Sound mirrors in the North East today
There are still sound mirrors that can be visited in Redcar and Sunderland which are now protected as part of our heritage. There was a sound mirror in Clavering near the primary school but it was demolished when the houses were built and in October 2022 an archaeological dig took place to look for evidence of the structure.
To find out more about sound mirrors that were built around Britains coastline visit this webpage: www.andrewgrantham.co.uk
This website has gathered information on all the sites of sound mirrors in the UK and one in Malta. It provides a good collection of images and details of their locations.