Duke learns about 1,300 years of Suffolk history on visit to two nationally-important sites
- Credit: Archant
A £1.8million project to transform the home of radar into a national heritage attraction was yesterday given a royal seal of approval.
The Duke of Gloucester unveiled a commemorative plaque at the official opening ceremony of the Bawdsey Radar Transmitter Block after a two-year conservation project.
The Grade II* transmitter block was part of the world’s first operational radar station and became the template for stations around the UK coast that helped win the Battle of Britain and protect the nation during the Second World War.
The Duke spoke to the trustees of Bawdsey Radar Trust as well as volunteers involved in the project, sponsors and the construction and development team, and saw how the early radar systems were able to track and report enemy aircraft during the war.
Mary Wain, founder and previous chair of the trust, said “Bawdsey Radar Trust is thrilled that The Duke of Gloucester has opened the recently restored Transmitter Block and the new radar exhibition at Bawdsey.
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“It continues an association dating back to July 1959 when the Duke’s mother, the Duchess of Gloucester, unveiled a plaque in the entrance to Bawdsey Manor that paid tribute to the pioneering work developing radar that had been carried out at Bawdsey in great secrecy.”
Current trust chairman Graham Randall said the Bawdsey Transmitter Block was built in 1938.
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He said: “It has now been removed from the Buildings at Risk register and with the help of a grant of £1.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £400,000 from Historic England and other funders has become the home of an exciting new exhibition celebrating the development of early radar and its modern day use.”
Later in the day the Duke also visited Sutton Hoo to learn about the £4m Releasing the Sutton Hoo Story project which is due to get under way later this year with plans including walking routes around the site as well as new displays, exhibitions and a 17-metre tall viewing tower over the Anglo-Saxon burial mounds.
During his tour he visited ship burial site where many of Sutton Hoo’s treasures, including the iconic Sutton Hoo helmet, were discovered back in 1939 by amateur archaeologist Basil Brown.