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Report - 'RAF Bawdsey' R3 ROTOR Radar Station - January 2016

Krypton

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#1
There was an RAF Base in Bawdsey from as early as 1935. Nearby Bawdsey Manor was chosen as the site to research and develop new radio technology. This led to the first Chain Home Radar Station being developed and built on the site in 1937 - these were then rolled out up and down the coasts of the British Isles.

In 1950, the station was chosen to participate in the ROTOR programme which should have been operational by January 1952. Work on the R3 two level underground control centre at the northern end of the site began late in 1950, although the new control centre wasn't ready until 1954.

In 1974, Bawdsey was downgraded as Master Radar Station, and in 1975 the site closed. By 1977 the radar towers had been demolished, but in 1979 the site re-opened as a Bloodhound Missile Site.

Much of the facilities were transferred to the new RAF Strike Command at High Wycombe in the late 1980s. IN May 1990 the Bloodhound Missiles were transferred to RAF West Raynham and the RAF Ensign was lowered for the last time in March 1991.

The site is starting to show signs of vandalism and natural decay. Much of the wiring has been stripped out and damaged and the lower levels of the bunker are beginning to flood.

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The Guardhouse

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Another view of the Guardhouse with the damaged roof. Following the closure of the site the access in both the guardhouse and the emergency exit were sealed with concrete caps. The buildings to the rear of the guardhouse were offices manned by staff from the Environment Agency.

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At the bottom of the stairwell from the guardhouse. Note the concrete cap on the top of the stairs. It is probable that water is running through the broken roof of the guardhouse and down into this chamber.

On descending the staircase from the guardhouse, you then walk down the 200ft long entrance corridor.
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After turning 45 degrees to the right and then to the north - you reach a set of heavy steel blast doors which are the entrance to the bunker..

Moving along the upper north-south spine corridor, many of the original rooms have been altered from the original ROTOR design, and it is almost impossible to determine their use.

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This room originally was the track telling and filter plotting room, with the sunken well at one end to house the Kelvin Hughes Projector.

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Moving further along the upper spine corridor we come to what was prior to 1984 the Chief Controllers Office. This was later converted to a strong room when being used by Strike Command.

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Beyond this was originally the officers rest room. In later life this room found use as a workshop.

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A set of heavy steel blast doors marks the end of the operational side of this corridor and onto the plant side.
On the left hand side is the cooling plant room.
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Moving further along the upper corridor we go through a dog leg and another set of blast doors before reaching the Sewage Ejection Room on the right hand side and a large transformer behind a wire cage on the left hand side.
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Right at the end of the upper corridor is the emergency exit staircase which is also capped with concrete at the top.
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Moving back down the main staircase we come to the lower spine corridor.
On the right is the main BT Distribution Room which still contains lots of original racking units.

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Further along is the main plant room. The Oil Seperating Units have failed and oil has leaked all over the floor creating a thick and slippy sludge.
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Air Conditioning Control Cabinets

Further along the corridor on the left hand side, the main operations and radar rooms have been changed so much it is impossible to determine their last use. The perspex windows that would have once looked down into the plotting room have been painted over.
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I do hope that something constructive is done with the site before it is too late. The current owners need to pull their fingers out to preserve what is left. Water is running through the cable shafts and along the mezzanine levels, spreading like a cancer that before long will have taken over some of the lower levels completely.

Krypton :)
 

Techwreckie

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#2
Great photos, so much better than the ones I managed! Nice to see the main entrance stairs too, we didn't go that far due to the flooding.
 

no1_scoot

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#5
Whats the best technique for taking photos down there. Did you just use camera flash or did you use light painting etc.
 

Krypton

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#6
If you use the flash it'll probably just bounce of everything in immediate proximity and look really shit. You'll need a torch anyway so you might as well use it to try and get half decent pics.
 
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