H (Cottages) Communications Hut, Beaumanor Park, Woodhouse (Grade II)

Geo: 52.7381, -1.2079
Date ListedTue 6th November, 2007
CategoryStatutory Listed Building
AddressH (Cottages) WWII Communications Hut Beaumanor Park [SK5357515902] Woodhouse LEICS
GradeGrade II
Grid ReferenceSK5357515902
WardForest Bradgate

WWII communications hut disguised as a pair of estate workmen's cottages, now used for storage. 1941-2.
MATERIALS: Red brick with corrugated asbestos roof.
EXTERIOR: Two storeys, roof with fictive central ridge stack. Front is a 6-window range at first floor of renewed casement windows. There are four windows and two doors on the ground floor all applied to the solid brick walls but the windows have brick projecting sills, thin lintels and brick soldier courses above. Ends have genuine doors, that to right altered late C20 and there is also a window above this. To rear are outshuts and a long single-storey wing projecting to the rear in the centre. Also on the rear behind the left end is another casement window on the ground floor again applied to a solid brick wall. This is probably the only original window to survive, though the sill and lintel also survive on the other side, beyond the rear wing.
INTERIOR: A single two-storey space with service rooms in the rear wing.
HISTORY: Since 1974 Beaumanor has been owned by Leicestershire County Council and is used for a wide range of educational activities. Although the present house dates from 1845, and was designed by William Railton, the site is ancient, having been an important residence in the medieval period and the home of the Duchess of Suffolk, mother of Lady Jane Grey, in the C16. It was bought by William Herrick in 1595 and remained the home of the Herricks until the early C20. Inherited by the Curzon-Howe family it was borrowed or requisitioned by the War Office at the outbreak of the Second World War and became a highly important Strategical Intercept Station, the most important intercept station of the War Office Y Group, for the collection of enemy Morse-code radio signals, which, after processing, were sent to Bletchley Park for decoding. By the end of the war there were some 1300 wireless operators at Beaumanor. In 1941-2 the extensive C19 buildings were augmented by specially built huts which were disguised as various estate buildings. These huts were the vital initial collection points in the highly secret process which ended in the decoding and reading of the messages at Bletchley Park.
H (Cottages) hut was one of four set rooms. Each had 14 inch blast-proof walls built into the structure and these stretched 8 feet up from ground level. The civilian operators manned H and the ATS the other three. These buildings had fake windows at ground level and small real windows up under the roof which were only useful for providing some daylight. The huts were linked by underground cables: each had 40 positions manned by 36 operators with four control sets for search work, looking for new or 'lost' stations and they also allowed flexibility when sets were being serviced. The supervisor sat in the centre of the room at one end facing the operators and close to the only access to the hut. Near the supervisor was the device for sending the intercepted messages through a pneumatic tube to the teleprinter room where it would be received for onward transmission via the teleprinter operators to Bletchley Park and the code breakers.
H hut was designed to look like a pair of semi-detached estate workmen's cottages of two storeys with a single storey rear wing. The disguise was complete with front doors and applied glazed window frames. The interior was, and still is, a single large space two storeys high with a lower rear wing. These buildings were a vital part in the collection and processing of coded enemy signals. The link between Beaumanor and Bletchley Park was close and constant, with teleprinter messages and despatch riders continually travelling between the two. The historical importance of the wartime buildings at Bletchley has recently been recognised with several items being listed. The items at Beaumanor have special historic interest for their vital part in this decoding chain and also the quality of interest in the physical fabric in that they are thought to have been unique wartime military buildings built and disguised as others. The only others similar were some pillboxes and gun emplacements camouflaged as seaside kiosks or buildings painted on hangars.
SOURCES:- Joan Nicholls, England Needs You. The Story of Beaumanor Y station, 2000.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION:- H (Cottages) hut at Beaumanor Park is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons: (1) It is a WWII signals structure of 1941-2 which was disguised to appear to be a country house service building when seen from the air and at a distance; (2) It survives little altered with its disguise still mostly retained; (3) It was part of the initial collection point for enemy Morse-code signals and a vital part in the code breaking process which was completed at Bletchley Park.

The description above describes the salient features of the building as it was at the date of listing. It is given in order to aid identification; it is not intended to be either comprehensive or exclusive.

Statutory Listing covers all parts of the property and its curtilage, ie all internal and external elements whether described or not.