Lottery grant gives Bawdsey radar centre project massive boost

The transmitter block at Bawdsey - where pioneering work on radar took place.

The transmitter block at Bawdsey - where pioneering work on radar took place. - Credit: PA

Work could start this summer on a £1.8million project to restore the world’s first fully operational radar station at Bawdsey thanks to a huge lottery grant.

The Bawdsey Radar Trust has received £1.42m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to renovate the old transmitter block at Bawdsey Manor and create new displays inside telling the pioneering story of radar and its huge impact on the outcome of the Second World War and beyond.

Last night, Miriam Stead, from the project steering group, said everyone involved was thrilled with the news of the grant.

She said: “It’s wonderful – and along with match-funding and other grants and volunteer time, it now means we have the total we need to start physical work on the project.”

Recently the trust received a £196,000 grant from Historic England.

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The group now has to finalise its detailed plans and is aiming to start work in the summer – with the work complete by late summer next year. When it reopens it will be for 81 days a year instead of the 15 up to now.

The HLF grant will also pay for a visitor centre/outreach worker and student interns for three years to help promote the exhibition and link with other similar attractions and museums, and also to improve the website to expand the understanding of the development of radar worldwide.

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Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said: “It is incredibly important we tell the Bawdsey and Suffolk coast story of where radar originated and its key role in the Second World War.

“I congratulate all involved with the Bawdsey Radar project on their imaginative scheme to restore the transmitter block and enhance the experience for visitors.

“This adds to the recent funding secured from the Coastal Communities Fund, all of which contributes to our tourism as well as securing key heritage for our nation.”

Radar helped the allies win the war, playing a vital part in the Battle of Britain in 1940, delivering crucial intelligence that enabled the RAF to overcome the Luftwaffe’s 2,400 aircraft with just 640 of their own.

It is estimated the technology helped shorten the war by two years.

Built in 1938, the transmitter block at RAF Bawdsey was is now Grade II* listed, it’s currently on the Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register and in need of urgent repair.

As well as plans to conserve the fabric of the building, Bawdsey Radar Trust will be working to develop ways in which more people can visit the site and understand the importance of the radar heritage that the transmitter block represents.

Displays will provide opportunities for learning about radar’s fascinating social and scientific history and about how the early work on it at Bawdsey laid the foundation for our current age of electronics leading to inventions such as GPS, accurate weather forecasting, speed safety cameras and the microwave oven.

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