Site Records

Site Name: RAF Hartland Point ('HAT') R8 GCI ROTOR Radar Station

Hartland Point
Titchberry, Devon
OS Grid Ref: SS237277

Sub Brit site visit 2nd February 2007

[Source: Nick Catford]

During WW2, RAF Hartland Point did not have its own domestic camp with personnel being billeted in local houses and at the Chain Home radar station at Northam Burrows chain home station. A purpose built hutted domestic camp and married quarters was provided during the rotor period at Rosedown, 3 1/2 miles south east of the technical site (SS27332424). In order to provide communication between the controllers in the R8 bunker at RAF Hartland Point and the intercepting aircraft, two VHF/UHF multi-channel radio transmitter and receiver blocks were built at remote sites half a mile apart at Baxworthy Corner, four miles south east of the technical site. The transmitter block was at SS28992220 and the receiver block at SS28622276.

Photo:The transmitter building at Baxworthy Corner
Photo by Nick Catford

The ROTOR station at Hartland Point was short lived closing as an RAF GCI radar station in 1958 prior to 'The 1958 Plan', the successor to the Rotor Plan. However a GCI team remained at the station which was retained as the range safety radar station for the Bude firing ranges and the air to air refueling range in the Bristol Channel. The station continued to function for this purpose until the 1980's.

Photo:An operator at a T60AQ console at RAF Hartland Point in the 1970's
Photo from RAF Air Defence Radar Museum

Some time after 1971 the station reverted back to its original name of RAF Hartland Point. In 1971/2 there was a proposal to site a Type 84 radar at Hartland Point or at Winkleigh in Devon for civil air traffic control as part of Linesman/Mediator scheme but this was later cancelled.

A nuclear reporting cell covering military sites in the far south west (Culdrose and St. Mawgan) was located at Hartland point; in c.1975 the NRC was relocated to the disused at Truro ROC Group control. In 1980 it was proposed to put an early warning radar station (control and reporting post) at Hartland point however Portreath was chosen instead. If this scheme had gone ahead at Hartland Point the new radar would have been mobile as was early radar at Portreath and the R8 would have been refurbished for administration. The station finally

The CAA radar at Hartland Point click to enlarge
closed in 1987 and after lying derelict for some years all the buildings were eventually demolished. A CAA radar is now located at Hartland Point linked to Swanwick.

Photo:The two level operations room overlooked by intercept cabins - viewed from the tote gallery
Photo by John Harris from the Sub Brit archive


Although all the buildings at Hartland Point have been cleared there is still evidence of the former radar station to be seen on common land which is freely accessible.. 

The concrete base of the R8 technical building can still be seen in a hollow below the current CAA radar. It is still possible to make out the position of the internal partition walls and at one end of the building a concrete engine bed survives. 

The base of the standby set house with another engine bed can be seen nearby together with a pile of concrete fence posts from the former compound.

On the hill above is the base of one of the radar plinths with steps leading up to its former entrance, this would have been for a Type 13 radar. Two sets of concrete gantry bases for the Type13 and 14 radars can also be seen in the undergrowth.

 Type 13 Radar in c.1982 - click to enlarge

Site plan of RAF Hartland Point. Although all the buildings have been demolished the site of most of the buildings can be identified on the ground.
Drawn by Nick Catford from a plan held in the Sub Brit Archive

NATO Airday commemorative envelope click to enlarge
At Baxworthy Corner the VHF/UHF transmitter buildings are still extant. Transmitter and receiver blocks come in two sizes designated 'small' and 'large'; those at Hartland Point were small. As built, the transmitter building comprised the transmitter hall, mechanical and electrical room, store, workshop, staff room and toilet with a 90' wooden aerial tower alongside. The tower has gone but the transmitter building and the standby set house both survive in a derelict condition. Some wiring and switchgear remains
as does an Elsan chemical toilet. The receiver building has been demolished and no evidence
remains on the site.

Photo:The 10 bay MT shed on the domestic site at Rosedown
Photo by Nick Catford

At Rosedown the married quarters are now in private occupation with houses with Officers' accommodation at the east end  of the main east – west road and married airmen’s' accommodation at the other end. Two huts survive in original condition, one is currently used by the ATC maintaining an RAF interest at the domestic site while the other close to the entrance to the camp is gutted and fire damaged; this was probably originally the station headquarters.  Two further huts have been refurbished, one is now the coastguard station. The 10 bay brick MT (Mechanical Transport) shed also survives in a derelict but sound condition.


For further photos of RAF Hartland Point click here

[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated 27th August 2007

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