Bawdsey Radar

Bawdsey Radar

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  • Museums / heritage

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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.

Bawdsey Radar Trust began life in the autumn of 2003 as the Bawdsey Radar Group. Its formation came about following the opening of the transmitter block to the public in July of that year.  Only a handful of visitors had been expected but amazingly, 950 people turned up.

The Group decided to take on the challenge of the restoration and development of the transmitter block.

In 2004, the block was shown in the series, BBC2 Restoration that featured Britain’s endangered historic buildings. Achieving fourth place in the final (only 5000 votes behind the winners) highlighted the national importance of the site.

Following this, a Heritage Lottery grant was obtained to complete an oral history project featuring individuals who served at Bawdsey.  A play has been written based on these oral reminiscences and the block has featured in the BBC Coast programme and The One Show.

In 2008, the Group became a trust and in 2016 secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England and many other sponsors to restore the building and create a brand new exhibition. 


The aim of Bawdsey Radar Trust is to conserve the transmitter block at Bawdsey, create a unique exhibition, educational facility and visitor attraction, to explain how radar was developed, and to record the central role that Bawdsey and radar played in saving our country during the Battle of Britain.

The new award-winning site and museum is now open on selected days from April to October with a full range of events and activities for families and visitors.

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