RAF Air Defence Radar Neatishead

Back in 1994 I visited this site when I was helping out with a open day when I was in the cadets. Many years later I was shocked when I found out that you could now get tours around the site and the bunker, so for the last 4 years I have been waiting to get onto one, but each time I have either been working or on holiday, but this time I got lucky and away we went to have some fun and games.

The day was perfect as we met up with people who I had only ever chatted online with , so It was fab to finally put a face to the person. The only gripe of the day was the typical british weather, when we popped back out on ground level it was raining sideways, so that ruined our chances of a great group photo under the Radar.

A little bit about the site and what it was used for.

World War II

In 1941, the Air Ministry surveyed a piece of land not far from the Broads at Horning in Norfolk with a view to establishing

a site to host a brand new Air Defence station, a Ground Control Intercept station to be exact, from where Fighter

Controllers, backed up by a wide range of support staff, could direct RAF fighters, day or night, to attack enemy aircraft

from Germany as they launched raids against Military and Industrial targets in Norfolk as well as against the City of

Norwich itself.

In September 1941, two years into the Second

World War, the first Secret radar system was

installed at the new Radar Station of RAF

Neatishead.  Initially, the complement of forty

airmen and airwomen was billeted at a local

village and training began in this radical early

warning system. At first, the station was home to

temporary mobile Radars but it was soon to boast

new, improved fixed Radar systems such as the

Type 7 Search Radar and Type 13 Height-finding

Radars.  The hardened Control Room, the

“Happidrome” was built and it is this very building

which, today, forms part of the Museum.

The Cold War

At the end of World War II in 1945 the world

entered seamlessly into a new conflict that was to

last 45 years – the Cold War.  As the defences for

the United Kingdom were reorganised with fewer

but more advanced Radar Stations to meet the

new threat, RAF Neatishead continued to play an

increasingly important role in the Air Defence of

Great Britain.  The station was established as a

Sector Operations Centre (SOC) and continued to

be used as such until 2004, by which time the

only other SOC was in Buchan, Scotland.  In

1954, the main Operations Centre was re-

established deep underground in a vast two-

storey hardened Bunker designed to withstand

attack by Nuclear bombs.

Between them, the Centres were responsible to

NATO for the Air Defence of the UK, the Western

North Sea (including the vital oil production

platforms), and the Eastern North Atlantic well

out past Ireland.  To provide cover over such a

vast area, a number of remote Radar sites were

set up to feed information into the Sector

Operations Centres, with Trimingham on the

North Norfolk Coast being the Radar site still

associated with RAF Neatishead today. By 2004,

technology had improved to such an extent that

all controlling functions could be undertaken from

one Control Centre at RAF Boulmer in

Northumberland.

Neatishead Today

Today, the aim of the base at Neatishead is to “to provide radar, ground-to-air radio and data links coverage as part of the UK Air Surveillance And Control System (ASACS), in support of national and NATO air defence; a task that has become increasingly important after the tragic events of 9/11.” Now called a Remote Radar Head, staff based here are responsible for both the Radar at Trimingham as well as equipment at a number of other sites in North Norfolk and at Neatishead itself.  Information is sent by secure datalinks from the various systems to RAF Boulmer where the Controllers monitor UK airspace.

The above information has been taken from the museum’s website, and plenty more information can be found on that right here
My photos from the day
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