Site Records

Site Name: RAF Murlough Bay ('URB') CHEL R11 ROTOR Radar Station

Torr Road
West Torr
Co. Antrim
Northern Ireland
OS Grid Ref: ID 213407

Sub Brit site visit 31st May 2006

[Source: Nick Catford]

The final stage of the ROTOR Programme (Rotor 3) was to provide radar cover for the north and west of the British Isles which were still exposed to attack and to give low and surface level cover over the Atlantic, the absence of which prevented effective action against low flying enemy aircraft. Three new CEW stations were to be built at Aird Uig, Faraid Head and Saxa Vord equipped with Type 80 Mk 2 and Type 13 radars. The new CEW operations buildings were to be above ground, heavily built and designated R10, similar in internal layout to the underground R1 bunkers.

Photo:The R11 operations block at RAF Murlough Bay
Photo by Nick Catford

Type 14 Search Radar (not Murlough Bay)
Rotor 3 included five new Chain Home Extra Low (CHEL) stations equipped with Stage 1 radar equipment to enable detection and tracking of low flying aircraft. (Stage 1 comprised Type 7 Early Warning [E/W] GCI , Type 14 E/W search radar E/W or Fighter Control [CEW station], Type 13 H/F and a Type 15 [mobile Type 7] - radars from this list were installed as required) The proposed stations were at Kilchiaran, Murlough Bay, Prestatyn, Snaefell and West Myne (demolished). These were to be heavily built operations blocks, designated R11; the above ground version of an R2 bunker.

Two new GCI stations were also proposed as part of the Rotor 3 programme, each equipped with a Type 80 radar and R8 ops block. One at Ballywooden (Killard Point) in Northern Ireland and the other at Wick on the Scottish east coast. It was hoped
that The ROTOR 3 programme would be complete by 1957 and all technical aspects were classified as 'Super Priority'. Until they were completed arrangements were made to use mobile equipment in an emergency.

The ROTOR 3 programme necessitated some changes in the Control and Reporting organisation. The CEW stations at Aird Uig, Saxa Vord and Faraid Head and the Chain Home stations at Sango and Netherbutton would come under a new Sector to be known as the Sector of the Isles with an SOC to be established at Inverness (not built). Additionally a new sub-sector of Western Sector was to be established in Northern Ireland to control the air defence units in the area including the new GCI at Killard Point, the existing CH station at Castle Rock and the new CH station at Murlough Bay.

The map shows the technical site (right) and the VHF receiver site (RX) and transmitter site (TX) at Crockanore 1.5 miles to the north west of the technical site.
The site chosen for RAF Murlough Bay (Rotor code URB) was a green field site on a plateau overlooking the sea one and a half miles south west of Murlough Bay on the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland. An above ground R11 technical block was chosen because of the adverse weather conditions; a prefabricated R8 SECO block would have been the preferred option. Two radars were to be provided, one Type 14 Mk. IX search radar on a gantry and one Type 13 Mk. VII height finder on a plinth. A standby set house was to be located alongside the technical block. The station was to be equipped with six 60A consoles, one 61 console and two video map un its. The proposed completion date for the station was April 1956.

A 'small' VHF transmitter block with a 90' tower was to be built at ID191413 with a 'small' VHF receiver block with a 90' tower

Type 13 Height Finder (not M/ Bay)
at ID187415 at Crockanore one and a half miles west of the technical site. There were to be no married quarters or camp with personnel being billeted in hotels in Ballycastle.

Photo:The standby set house along side the R11 technical block. This design of building is exclusive to all the R11 Rotor stations.
Photo by Nick Catford

Despite the large outlay, the station had a very short operational life being reduced to inactive status by 1958.

For further information and pictures of RAF Murlough Bay click here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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