EADT fights to save historic radar site

By Danielle NuttallAT first glance it looks like an old concrete block, covered in moss and sitting in the middle of nowhere.But the overgrown stone structure at Bawdsey, along the Suffolk coast, is one of the most important buildings in the country - representing the only remains of Britain's, and possibly the world's, first operational radar station.

By Danielle Nuttall

AT first glance it looks like an old concrete block, covered in moss and sitting in the middle of nowhere.

But the overgrown stone structure at Bawdsey, along the Suffolk coast, is one of the most important buildings in the country - representing the only remains of Britain's, and possibly the world's, first operational radar station.

Now the East Anglian Daily Times and BBC Radio Suffolk are supporting a bid to restore T-Block, as it is known, to its former glory.


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The transmitter block was based at the bottom of a radar mast in the grounds of Bawdsey Manor and was to become critical to Britain's victory in the Second World War.

The Victorian mansion was bought by the Government in 1936 and became home to a group of scientists - including the physics genius, Professor Robert Watson-Watt - who were trying to develop radio direction-finding technology into a device that could detect enemy aircraft from a great distance.

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It was here that they invented radar and Bawdsey became the first of a chain of radar stations that surrounded the east of England.

The last four radar masts were dismantled in 2000 and the unsightly concrete block is now all that remains of the historical site.

It is now to be featured as part of the BBC's Restoration series, which starts tonight and looks at 21 dilapidated buildings in seven regions of the UK that are desperately in need of rejuvenation.

The viewing public has the chance to vote for their favourite building as part of the programme, which saw last year's winner, the Victoria Baths in Manchester, receive £3.5million for its restoration.

However, all the buildings featured in the programme, presented by Griff Rhys-Jones, who lives in a village near Ipswich, receive a boost to their profile and could attract investment to save them.

EADT editor, Terry Hunt, said: “It doesn't look much these days, but this dilapidated building at Bawdsey represents a hugely important part of our history.

“Without the invention of radar, who knows what course the Second World War would have taken?

“I urge all EADT readers, and everyone in Suffolk, to support our campaign by voting to restore this building at Bawdsey.

“It may have more glamorous rivals, but I can't believe any of them have played a more crucial role in our history.”

BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show presenter, Mark Murphy, also pledged yesterday the station's support to save the transmitter block, which could see it converted into an exhibition centre.

“It's probably historically one of the most important buildings and deserves to be preserved and restored because without the work of the people at Bawdsey developing radar as they did in the Second World War, we might not have any of the other buildings across England,” he said.

“Radar played such a big part in the Second World War. It's a historical site which really should be preserved for generations.

“I am really excited that there is a project this year from Suffolk in the Restoration series.

“With something right on our own doorstep and something so unique, it makes sense that we should be backing it all the way. I would encourage everybody in Suffolk to pick up the phone and vote Bawdsey.”

The Restoration series begins tonight on BBC 2 at 9pm and the Bawdsey transmitter block is due to be featured next month.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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