Photo by Richard McLachlan
By Richard McLachlan
This radio site consists of a 200 ft tower with buildings at the base. It is situated between Swindon and Cirencester just north of the village of Cricklade in the centre of what was Blakehill Farm airfield during WWII. Large notices at the gate proclaim it to be an ``experimental radio station'' belonging to GCHQ. It was operational until May 1997, and there is a 1997 calendar on one of the walls to prove it.
The tower is made of very substantial wood with steel joints, and looks extremely rugged. There is a one-inch diameter copper lightning conductor running right up the centre, bonded to ground via big copper straps all round the base. The tower is definitely climbable, and there are enclosed ladders between the stages all the way up. I would imagine there is a very substantial earth mat under and around the site judging by the number of copper straps that appear through the earth.
All round the centre compound, at a radius of 100 metres or so, there is a circular ring of long grass. In this ring at intervals, there are concrete bases where there were once steel towers. I would imagine that there were wires from these towers to the top of the main structure, as there were lots of odd bits of heavy gauge copper antenna wire laying about.
I am guessing that the whole thing was an HF DF station, with a series of Vee antennas covering 360°. Its layout is not dissimilar to the FLIR 9 antenna array that was once at RAF Chicksands, although there is no way of knowing now how high the surrounding ring of towers were, nor the exact antenna arrangement.
Running right alongside it there is the old grass runway of the airfield.
Last updated 27th November 1998
© 1998 Subterranea Britannica