Royal Radar Establishment

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The Royal Radar Establishment was a research center in Malvern, Worcestershire in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1953 as the Radar Research Establishment by the merger of the Air Ministry's Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) and the British Army's Radar Research and Development Establishment (RRDE). It was given its new name after a visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957. Both names were abbreviated to RRE. In 1976 the Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE), involved in communications research, joined the RRE to form the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE).

Science park area designed to promote science or technology business development

A science park is defined as being a property-based development that accommodates and fosters the growth of tenant firms and that is affiliated with a university based on proximity, ownership, and/or governance. This is so that knowledge can be shared, innovation promoted, and research outcomes progressed to viable commercial products.

Malvern, Worcestershire spa town and civil parish in Worcestershire, England

Malvern is a spa town and civil parish in Worcestershire, England. It lies at the foot of the Malvern Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The centre of Malvern, Great Malvern, is a historic conservation area, which grew dramatically in Victorian times due to the natural mineral water springs in the vicinity, including Malvern Water.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.


The two groups had been closely associated since before the opening of World War II, when the predecessor to RRDE was formed as a small group within the Air Ministry's research center in Bawdsey Manor. Forced to leave Bawdsey due to its exposed location on the east coast of England, both groups moved several times before finally settling in separate locations in Malvern beginning in May 1942. The merger in 1953 that formed the RRE renamed these as the North Site (RRDE), at 52°08′03″N2°20′06″W / 52.13414°N 2.33509°W / 52.13414; -2.33509 , and the South Site (TRE), at 52°06′00″N2°18′58″W / 52.100°N 2.316°W / 52.100; -2.316 Coordinates: 52°06′00″N2°18′58″W / 52.100°N 2.316°W / 52.100; -2.316 . [1] In 1991 they were partially privatized as part of the Defence Research Agency, which became Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in 1996. The North Site was closed in 2003 and the work was consolidated at the South Site, while the former North Site was sold off for housing developments. The RSRE is now part of Qinetiq.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Bawdsey Manor

Bawdsey Manor stands at a prominent position at the mouth of the River Deben close to the village of Bawdsey in Suffolk, England, about 74 miles (119 km) northeast of London. Built in 1886, it was enlarged in 1895 as the principal residence of Sir William Cuthbert Quilter. Requisitioned by the Devonshire Regiment during World War I and having been returned to the Quilter family after the war, it was purchased by the Air Ministry for £24,000 in 1936 to establish a new research station for developing the Chain Home RDF (radar) system. RAF Bawdsey was a base through the Cold War until the 1990s. The manor is now used for PGL holidays and courses, and has a small museum in the Radar Transmitter Block.

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

The earlier research and development work of TRE and RRDE on radar was expanded into solid state physics, electronics, and computer hardware and software. The RRE's overall scope was extended to include cryogenics and other topics. Infrared detection for guided missiles and heat sensing devices was a major defence application. [2] The SRDE brought satellite communications and fibre optics knowledge.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter.

A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.

Cryogenics study of the production and behaviour of materials at very low temperatures

In physics, cryogenics is the production and behaviour of materials at very low temperatures. A person who studies elements that have been subjected to extremely cold temperatures is called a cryogenicist.

Administrative history

The earliest concerted effort to develop radar in the UK dates to 1935, and Robert Watt replied to an Air Ministry question about radio-based death rays by stating they were impossible, but using radio as a detection means was possible. After a simple practical demonstration, a prototype system was built at Orfordness on the east coast of England. While on a Sunday drive in the area, Watt noticed the large and unused Bawdsey Manor, and this was leased by the Air Ministry to become first radar research centre in the country. Soon after taking over Bawdsey in 1936, the British Army heard of their efforts and formed a group to work with them to develop ground-based applications. The first project of this "Army Cell" was a ranging system for anti-aircraft artillery, but they soon added the Coast Defence radars and began work on the proximity fuse.

Robert Watson-Watt physicist

Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, KCB, FRS, FRAeS was a Scottish pioneer of radio direction finding and radar technology.

Air Ministry former department of the British Government

The Air Ministry was a department of the Government of the United Kingdom with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964. It was under the political authority of the Secretary of State for Air.

The death ray or death beam was a theoretical particle beam or electromagnetic weapon first theorized around the 1920s and 1930s. Around that time, notable inventors such as Guglielmo Marconi, Nikola Tesla, Harry Grindell Matthews, Edwin R. Scott, Graichen and others claimed to have invented it independently. In 1957, the National Inventors Council was still issuing lists of needed military inventions that included a death ray.

At the outbreak of the war in 1939, the location of Bawdsey, right on the east coast, was considered far too exposed to attack. The Air Ministry team quickly moved to Dundee in Scotland, where the former Air Ministry Experimental Station became the Air Ministry Research Establishment (AMRE). The Army group moved to Christchurch, outside Bournemouth, becoming the Air Defence Experimental Establishment (ADEE). The facilities in Dundee proved far too small and isolated, and in May 1940 they moved again, this time to Worth Matravers on the south coast of England, also a short distance from Bournemouth. This was accompanied by yet another renaming, now becoming the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE).

Dundee City and council area

Dundee is Scotland's fourth-largest city and the 51st-most-populous built-up area in the United Kingdom. The mid-year population estimate for 2016 was 148,270, giving Dundee a population density of 2,478/km2 or 6,420/sq mi, the second-highest in Scotland. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea. Under the name of Dundee City, it forms one of the 32 council areas used for local government in Scotland.

Christchurch, Dorset Town in England

Christchurch is a town, civil parish and former borough now in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole unitary authority, on the south coast of England. The town adjoins Bournemouth in the west and the New Forest lies to the east. Historically in the county of Hampshire, it became part of the administrative county of Dorset in the 1974 reorganisation of local government. Covering an area of 19.5 square miles (51 km2), Christchurch had a 2013 population of 48,368, making it the fourth-most populous town in Dorset, close behind Weymouth which has a population of 54,539.

Bournemouth Town in England

Bournemouth is a coastal resort town on the south coast of England, east of the 96-mile-long (155 km) Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. At the 2011 census, the town had a population of 183,491, making it the largest in Dorset. With Poole to the west and Christchurch in the east, Bournemouth is part of the South East Dorset conurbation, which has a population of 465,000.

Ultimately they began to worry that this location was also too exposed, and when they heard a German paratroop unit had moved to France directly across the English Channel, they decided to move once again. The ADEE, by this time once again renamed to the Air Defence Research and Development (ADRDE), moved to underutilized Air Ministry buildings on the north side of Malvern in May 1942. This, of course, resulted in yet another name change to the RRDE. The TRE followed shortly thereafter, taking up residence in buildings across from Malvern College on the south side of town.

English Channel Arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France

The English Channel, also called simply the Channel, is the body of water that separates Southern England from northern France and links the southern part of the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the busiest shipping area in the world.

Malvern College school in Worcestershire, UK

Malvern College is an independent coeducational day and boarding school in Malvern, Worcestershire, England. It is a public school in the British sense of the term and is a member of the Rugby Group and of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Since its foundation in 1865, it has remained on the same grounds, which are located near the town centre of Great Malvern. The campus, now covering some 250 acres, is set against the backdrop of the Malvern Hills.

TRE was part of the Ministry of Supply and, when it was formed, so was RRE. In 1959, control passed to the Ministry of Aviation. When this was abolished in 1967, control passed to the Ministry of Technology, then to the Ministry of Aviation Supply, in 1970, and to the Ministry of Defence in 1971. In 1976 RRE merged with the Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE) to form the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE), which became part of the Defence Research Agency (DRA) in 1991. Later (1995), DRA was absorbed into DERA, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. DERA split on 2 June 2001 into two parts, a government body called Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) and a company destined for privatisation, which became QinetiQ.

The technical departments of RRE were grouped, initially, into six Divisions: airborne radar, ground radar, guided weapons, basic techniques, physics, and engineering. The organization and personnel are described further, in a collection of linked web sites. [3]

W. J. Richards, CBE, was Director of TRE at the time of the merger and continued as Director of RRE. William Henry (Bill) Penley, Head of Guided Missiles, took over for a year in 1961. Then George Macfarlane (after postings outside RRE) became Director in 1962. [1]

The Physics Division – some of the staff and their work

At the time of the name change to Radar Research Establishment in 1953, the senior staff included:

Other members of the Physics Division who made significant contributions to several fields of endeavour include:

In 1956, R.A. Smith presented a comprehensive account of the contributions of RRE to physics to the Royal Society. [2]

Radar, Guided weapons and Engineering Divisions

Gloster Meteor NF.11 fitted with modified radar nose during trials work when allocated to the RRE during 1976. Gloster Meteor NF.11 mod WD790 TRE GC 31.07.76 edited-3.jpg
Gloster Meteor NF.11 fitted with modified radar nose during trials work when allocated to the RRE during 1976.

Although less conspicuous among academic scientists, these divisions were major players in the defence community, both in policy decision making and as an interface with industry. Development and production contracts brought staff of several companies on site, and extramural contracts strengthened ties with industry still further. "in radar alone: Plessey and Decca for aerials and waveguides, Plessey, Hilger & Watts, [43] Clarke Chapman and Curran for millimetre-wave radar, and Mullard for precision bombing and radar reconnaissance". [1] On returning to RRE as Director in 1962, George Macfarlane reorganized the technical departments into: Military and Civil Systems (comprising Ground Radar and Air Traffic Control, Guided Weapons and Airborne Radar groups), Physics and Electronics (comprising Physics and Electronic Groups) and Engineering. "Despite the policy shift away from fighters ... to guided weapons for UK air defence, ... RRE continued to argue for strike aircraft and kept up the necessary radar research programs." [1]

Senior staff, of the divisions at various times included

More than 50 books were written by members of the establishment under its successive names. Details are included in the list of references below, and in the TRE article. Many more were in series that members of the staff edited.

In 1968, the Minister of Supply assured a member of parliament that the results of research at RRE on infra-red detectors would be made available to British industry. [45]

A former member of the RRE, Martin Woodhouse, later became better known as a novelist.

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