Site Records

Site Name: RAF Holmpton/Patrington ('VQJ') GCI R3 ROTOR Radar Station

Rysome Lane

OS Grid Ref: TA365227

[Source:RAF Holmpton Archive & Nick Catford]

Standby set houses (power house) were originally to be sited on the domestic camp or occasionally at a separate remote site. Some were finally located on the technical site. All electricity cables in the vicinity had to be buried to avoid the risk of interference.

In addition to this and again due to possible interference problems the site required both a radio transmitting and receiving station located remotely. The transmitting station at Holmpton was a new build located near to the standby set house and the receiving site has been demolished.

Photo:The guardhouse
Photo by Nick Catford

Once the new technical site was up and running and fully tested the old WWII radar antenna were then dismantled with the Happidrome remaining at Sunk Island although in very poor condition. (Sunk Island is still a part of the Crown Estate).

North of Holmpton at Bempton (40 miles up the coast) the radar station located there (housed in an R1 bunker) operated as a CEW (centimetric early warning) station and was a remote station under the command of Holmpton.Note: In the majority of cases throughout the ROTOR programme the stations operated in clusters. A GCI station at the centre with a CEW and CHEL station at two remote sites about 30 miles apart. In some cases such as Holmpton two of the sites were combined at the main location. On 1.9.1957 control of the station passed from 13 Group to 12 Group, when operators were sent to Bempton and Trimingham to train on the new Type 80 radar.

By 1958 the installation of a Type 80 (long range) radar was completed. This upgrade also called for the closure of the remote Type 7 site which was initially kept as back up to the Type 80, although this was not removed until quite a few years later. To augment the improved reporting time of the Type 80 radar the original twin level operations room at Holmpton was closed and a new Radar Operations Room was built at the opposite end of the bunker, incorporating a PDU radar projection plotting table along with a Kelvin Hughes Projection System installed on the lower floor directly underneath the PDU table.

For a while both the new and old operations rooms ran together but in 1961 during a further major upgrade the whole station at Holmpton closed for 9 months between 16.1.1961 - 12.10.1961 for a major refit of technical equipment and the entire staff moved on a temporary basis to the remote station at Bempton. Completion of this upgrade saw the closing of the site at Bempton in 1961 (retained on care and maintenance) and with the re-opening of Holmpton the site now incorporated the additional functions of a CEW station

Kelvin Hughes PDU plotting table

Photo:The 'new' plotting room at Holmpton with the Kelvin Hughes PDU plotting table

Room layout at Holmpton following the installation of the Kelvin Hughes PDU
Drawn by Nick Catford

Following on from Rotor, the 1958 Signals Plan, amended in 1960 saw Holmpton upgraded to a Master Radar Station reporting to the main MCC (Master Control Centre) at Bawburgh in the old Eastern SOC R4 underground control centre. However this scheme was abandoned in favour of an unprotected MCC at West Drayton and the new Linesman/Mediator scheme which integrated RAF and Civil Air Traffic Control was introduced to significantly reduce costs. Holmpton now reported to the UK Air Defence Operations Centre (ADOC) at Bentley Priory.

1961 saw a new role for Holmpton as part of the Bloodhound missile system. Initially this was via a digital data link to North Cotes Bloodhound Tactical Control Centre.

By 1962 The Type 82 radar associated with the Tactical Control Centres was increasingly unreliable with poor range and it was badly affected by adverse weather. It was decided to allocate the data directly from MRS radars to the TCC's. The Type 82 became redundant with data provided by an improved Type 80.

Bloodhound missile

Photo:Personnel at Holmpton infront of the Type 80 radar array

New Ericsson Totes were installed in the MRS at Holmpton & Bawdsey with the northern bloodhound sites allocated to Holmpton MRS and the southern sites to Bawdsey MRS. In the event of problems with the MRS radars the Type 82's were still held in reserve at each TCC. However, this plan was short lived and within two years it was decommissioned, eventually seeing the demise of the Bloodhound system which was abandoned between 1964 - 1970.

Click here for further information and photographs of RAF Holmpton

[Source:RAF Holmpton Archive & Nick Catford]

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Last updated 9th October 2005

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