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]

The domestic camp at Patrington Haven closed in 1975 and was retained on care until 1980. It then started to deteriorate and was eventually sold off in 1985.

Sadly the buildings had become worse for wear and the majority were demolished to make way for a new leisure park and caravan site. The married quarters were sold off to the local authority for housing and the officers houses were sold privately.

Up to 1974 the whole installation had been known as RAF Patrington (Between January 1956 - December 1958 the combined site was titled '336 Signals Unit', the SU title being in common with all other radar stations at the time.The Unit badge to this effect was approved by the Herald of Arms in January 1958 and presented at the annual AOC's inspection on 22.5.1958. The establishment was again titled RAF Patrington on 1.1.1959), but with the closure of the camp and the technical site being some three miles distant, the name of the site was finally changed to RAF Holmpton in 1984.

Between 1974 and 1984 the technical site was used as a training facility for radar engineers, but restructuring changes in the RAF now called for a new command and control centre for RAF Support Command so 1984 saw the start of an £18 million refit of the technical site.

This was completed in 1989 and went on to become the new National Wartime Command Centre for RAF Support Command. RAFSCOC.

This massive refit saw the removal of all the old radar buildings and the complete refurbishment of the underground facility. Much of the internal layout was changed and new plant and ventilation systems were installed.

Floor plan of the R3 bunker after the 1984 refit

On the lower level the refit included the complete removal of both the old computer centre and the PDU radar operations area to provide new operational, administrative and living accommodation for staff, as for the first time in its history the site would be required to provide protected accommodation for up to 100 staff for a period of around 30 days.

A new Support Command Operations Room was provided in the 'pit' previously occupied by the PDU projection system and the allocation offices for Support Command were located alongside in what had previously been the north end of the former computer centre. A new communications centre COMCEN was then added to provide frame, switchboard and radio rooms.

Photo:Support Command Operatios Room located in the former PDU projector room (2005)
Photo by Nick Catford

Part of the former computer centre were then converted into the new Tactical Operations Command Centre TOCC (retained) combining use of the main hall, together with the former engineering offices and now floored over upper part of the former ops room.. The old telephone exchange was removed to provide a male dormitory and space for the new emergency water supply tanks. A locker room and store were added, and although it was proposed to refit the former radar machine room as a cinema although this part of the project did not proceed.

On the upper level a new Kitchen and laundry were installed along with an Officers Mess and a new staff canteen. A female dormitory was provided and additional senior staff bedrooms were built, together with a new office, bedroom and situation room for the Commanding Officer. A briefing room was provided together with a medical/hospital facility and a new armoury. At the same time an operations area was provided for the Royal Observer Corps and this later went on to become an ROC/NBC control. The upper level of the PDU operations room was then completely re-floored closing over the original PDU well to provide additional dormitory space. The WC's were refurbished and new shower rooms were installed.

Photo:The telephone exchange in 2005
Photo by Nick Catford

On the surface a new power station was constructed and the former Telephone Exchange building for the link to Staxton Wold was converted to provide a training room for the Royal Observer Corps and a new dormitory for the Army along with WC's a rest room and a kitchen.

Sadly the Support Command use was to be a short lived plan as 1991 saw the ending of the 'Cold War' and from this point onwards there was simply no requirement for such a command facility. With further internal re-organisation of the RAF, Support Command was absorbed into the new PTC (personnel and training command) at RAF Innsworth and so the newly completed facility at Holmpton closed in 1992.

Photo:Generator in the new standby set house built during the 1984 refit

Between 1992 and 1995 the newly refurbished facility was used for specialist training by the RAF Regiment and the RAF Police with the station parented by RAF Leconfield. Then in 1995 further extensive work was carried out to adapt the site for use as an experimental operations centre which remained active until year 2000, finally moving onto care and maintenance by AQUMEN Defence now parented by RAF Digby.

Click here for further information and photographs of RAF Holmpton

[Source:RAF Holmpton Archive & Nick Catford]

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Last updated 21st January 2006

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