Saving the World’s First Operational Radar Station!

 Bawdsey Radar wins Heritage Lottery Fund support for its Transmitter Block project.

Group cheer Dec 2015

Bawdsey Radar has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1.4m as part of a £1.8m project to conserve the Transmitter Block building on Bawdsey Manor Estate in Suffolk. The Transmitter Block was built in 1938 and was a key building at RAF Bawdsey, the world’s first operational radar station.  The major site construction work will start in September 2016 and an exciting new exhibition will open in September 2017 allowing all visitors to explore and find out about this pioneering radar site.

The building has become a focal point for the local community on the Deben Peninsula. Christine Block, Bawdsey Radar Trustee and a Member at Suffolk Coastal District Council has commented,

We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this funding. The Transmitter Block has always been really well supported by local people. It represents such a key moment in our recent history that the community is really excited to feel that the building is going to survive and tell its’ unique story.”

As well as plans for conserving the fabric of the building, Bawdsey Radar will be working to develop ways, physical and virtual, in which more people can visit the site and understand the importance of the radar heritage that the Transmitter Block represents.  New displays within the Transmitter Block will tell the story of radar and its significance in WW2.  Radar helped win the war by playing a vital part in the Battle of Britain in 1940 and it is estimated the technology helped shorten the war by two years.  An important part of the project will be providing opportunities for learning about radar’s fascinating social and scientific history, and about how the early work at Bawdsey laid the foundation for our current age of electronics leading to inventions such as GPS, accurate weather forecasting, speed safety cameras and even the microwave oven!.

Mary Wain, Chair of Bawdsey Radar Trust is excited about the award

“This is wonderful news.  Now Bawdsey Radar can really concentrate on telling the story of radar and Bawdsey’s role in it.   The condition of the Transmitter Block had been reaching the point where it would no longer have been possible to open it to the public but now with the HLF and Historic England awards , its full steam ahead”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “The East of England played a vital role during the Second World War, particularly in the field of aviation. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund has been able to invest in this transformational project that will ensure many more people in the region and beyond are able to explore this pivotal story from one of our nation’s most important periods in its history.”

In addition Bawdsey Radar is fortunate to have been offered a grant of £196,320 by Historic England to help with the repair of this building at risk, as described by John Etté Principal Adviser, Heritage at Risk. East of England.  “Grade II* Bawdsey Transmitter Block played a vital part in the development of radar technology during the Second World War, which also had a huge impact on post-war electronics and defence systems. Our grant will help conserve and restore this very important building by removing it from Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register.  We have provided specialist support to help with the plans for a technically challenging conservation and restoration project.”