Site Records


SiteName: 'RAF Prestatyn' ('SYP') CHEL R11 ROTOR Radar Station

Gwaenysgur
Prestatyn, Denbighshire
OS Grid Ref: SJ079819

Sub Brit site visit 16th August 2003

[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:R11 Operations Block
Photo by Nick Catford


Type 14 Radar
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 prefabricated operations block. One at Ballywooden (Killard Point) in Northern Ireland and the other at Wick on the Scottish east coast. It is unlikely Wick was ever completed.

It was hoped that The ROTOR 3 programme would be complete by 1957 and all technical aspects were classified as 'Super Priority'.

Plan of the site

By the target completion date of April 1956 some ROTOR stations had already closed down and the introduction of the 'Comprehensive Radar Station' as part of the '1958' plan had no place for Prestatyn and the station closed.

The buildings at Prestatyn remain largely intact and unused. The majority of the perimeter fence posts are still in place. The Type 14 radar plinth stands alone on top of a hill within the compound. It has been stripped of any fittings although it still retains a ladder for access to the roof and the mounting for the Type 14 radar on the roof.

On the north slope of the hill there is Braithwaite water tank and below it the massive R11 operations block. The building is in a good state of repair and was open for many years but is now believed to be used by a local gun club and is securely locked. All the windows are bricked up. Close by the stand-by set house is roofless and derelict and completely stripped apart from its concrete engine beds. A small brick building now housing communications equipment may have been the sub-station.

As it is the highest point in the area with a good view in all directions, a number of communications masts have been built on the site. One is operated by BT as their Prestatyn microwave relay station; located in a secure compound next to a modern building. A second mast is fed from equipment mounted in the redundant Prestatyn Royal Observer Corps post.

Photo:VHF/UHF Receiver block with the standby set house to the rear
Photo by Nick Catford

In order to provide communication to and from RAF Prestatyn two VHF/UHF multi-channel radio transmitter and receiver blocks were built, the transmitter block was on the technical site but the receiver block was remotely sited half a mile to the north to avoid interference from the radar. Transmitter and receiver blocks come in two sizes designated 'small' and 'large'; those at Prestatyn, which are both still extant, are 'small'. Each block would have had a 90' wooden aerial tower alongside. Both towers at have now been removed.

Each site consisted of two buildings, the operations building and a standby set house. As built, the transmitter building comprised the transmitter hall, mechanical and electrical room, store, workshop, staff room and toilet. The building at has been refurbished but is externally unaltered apart from the windows being bricked up; it is used for communications by BT with a new aerial tower alongside.

The smaller receiver building (at SJ084822) comprised a receiver room, mechanical and electrical room, store, workshop, staff room and toilet. Externally there have been few alterations to the apart from the windows being bricked up. Both the receiver block and standby set house are in use as communications relay station for North Wales Police with a new aerial tower alongside.


R11 Operations Block

R11 Operations
Block

R11 Operations Block

R11 Operations Block

Stand-by
Set House

Stand-by
Set House

Type 14
Radar Plinth

Type 14
Array Mounting

BT Site

VHF/UHF
transmitter block

VHF/UHF
receiver block

 

[Source: Nick Catford]


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Last updated 22nd August 2003

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