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Bawdsey Radar

IP12 3BA Bawdsey, Great Britain (UK) (Suffolk)

Address Transmitter Block
Floor area unfortunately not known yet  
Museum typ Exhibition
  • Tubes/Valves / Semiconductors
  • Amateur Radio / Military & Industry Radio

Opening times
April - October: Thuesday + Sunday: 11am - 4pm, (last admission 3pm)
see “Opening Times“ for extra open days.

Status from 05/2023
Adults: £8.00 Children: free

Tel.:+44-7821-162 879  eMail:info  


Our page for Bawdsey Radar in Bawdsey, Great Britain (UK), is not yet administrated by a member. Please write to us about your experience with this museum, for corrections of our data or sending photos by using the Contact Form to the Museum Finder.

Location / Directions
N51.993749° E1.408826°N51°59.62494' E1°24.52956'N51°59'37.4964" E1°24'31.7736"

From Woodbridge, the transmitter building is located off the B1083, one mile beyond Bawdsey village.
There is a seasonal foot ferry, including cycles, from Felixstowe Ferry to Bawdsey Quay. Please contact the Ferry Company for timetable information, tel. +44-7709-411511. The Transmitter Block is about one mile from Bawdsey Quay along the B1083, Ferry Road.


A world first – the story of Bawdsey Radar

On 24th September 1937, RAF Bawdsey became the first fully operational Radar station in the world.

Remarkably, this was only a short eighteen months after the first experiment, conducted by Robert Watson Watt and Arnold Wilkins, which established that by using transmitted radio waves it was possible to detect an approaching aircraft.

Watson-Watt and Wilkins

The Scots physicist Robert Watson-Watt, supervisor of a national radio research laboratory and descendant of James Watt was contacted and asked for his views.
Watson-Watt said that radio beams could be bounced off enemy aircraft to detect them.

Test target identified

On 26 February 1935, Watson-Watt and Arnold Wilkins successfully demonstrated their system using a BBC transmitter, and managed to pick up a bomber being used as a test target.

In May 1935 the Bawdsey Manor Estate was purchased for £24,000.

The birth of the radar chain

In February 1936. the research scientists occupied Bawdsey Manor House and the stables and outbuildings were converted into workshops.

240ft wooden receiver towers and 360ft steel transmitter towers were built and Bawdsey became the first Chain Home Radar Station. By the outbreak of WW2 a chain of radar stations was in place around the coast of Britain.
RAF Bawdsey was unique in that it had Coast Defence (CD), Chain Home Low (CHL) and Chain Home (CH) equipment together on one site.

Anti-aircraft installations

During WW2, RAF Bawdsey was identified as a potential target and in September 1939 three 40mm Bofors guns and two .303 Lewis anti-aircraft guns were installed.

With an increased fear of a German invasion, these defences were supplemented in 1940 by slit trenches, sandbag gun emplacements, a concrete gun post and at least ten type 24 pillboxes; nine of these still survive.

Battle of Britain

Radar stations such as Bawdsey were to prove invaluable intelligence during the Second World War and particularly during the Battle of Britain when 2,600 Luftwaffe planes were set against the RAF’s 640.

Bawdsey bombings

As a high-priority target for the Luftwaffe, Bawdsey didn’t get off lightly. It was bombed on at least 12 occasions. However, huge earth revetments supported by reinforced concrete walls and a roof specially designed to dissipate the force of an overhead blast, prevented the destruction of the station.

Sporadic attacks continued for the rest of the war. The last bombing raid near Bawdsey was on 30th June 1944 and in September of that year.

Bloodhound missiles

Bawdsey was used as an RAF base through the Cold War until the 1990s when the Bloodhound Missile was the last ‘tenant’ in this base.

On 31st May 1990 the Bloodhound force ceased operations and in June all the missiles were withdrawn to RAF West Raynham. The RAF Ensign was lowered for the last time on the 25th March 1991 and the station closed on the 31st March.
Sadly, the last of the giant transmitter masts came down in 2000.

the transmitter block underwent a major restoration programme funded by the NHLF, Historic England and others to transform it from a derelict state to a building that now has a sustainable future and award-winning exhibition on the development and use of radar from the 1930s to World War II to the present day. presents here one of the many museum pages. We try to bring data for your direct information about all that is relevant. In the list (link above right) you find the complete listing of museums related to "Radio & Co." we have information of. Please help us to be complete and up to date by using the contact form above.



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