Site Records

Site Name: Wattisham - Anglia Radar Air Traffic Control Centre

Ware Road
OS Grid Ref: TM031523

SubBrit site visit 25th July 2006

[Source: Nick Catford]

Anglia Radar set up in about 1958 solely to control US Air Force air movements in the
East Anglia area as more bases were established and to liaise with RAF controllers at the master radar stations at RAF Neatishead and RAF Bawdsey. Anglia Radar was responsible for all air traffic from the following bases

Alconbury [bombers]
Mildenhall [transport]
Bentwaters [fighters]
Wethersfield [fighters]
Chelveston [bombers]
Woodbridge [fighters]
Lakenheath [fighters]
Sculthorpe [tankers]

British air movements for East Anglia were handled by Eastern Radar at Watton sited in the old Bloodhound tactical control centre. This was a joint civilian/military air traffic control centre dealing with RAF movements and liaising with civilian operators

Anglia Radar in early 1960's - Photo by Paul C Low

Photo:Anglia Radar technical site from a smilar viewpoint to the picture above. The buildings to the right in the 1960's picture have now gone.
Photo by Nick Catford

Initially, Anglia Radar consisted of a mobile convoy and radar set up on one of the old WW2 loop dispersals on the north side of Bidleston Road, to the north of Wattisham Airfield with permanent buildings being constructed in about 1960.

H Blocks in early 1960's - accomodation left and
admin right - Photo by Paul C Low

The control centre was a mixture of brick buildings and prefabricated H blocks for administration and accommodation. Additional accommodation was provided at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge with a shuttle bus between the sites for shift changes.

The Anglia Radar Air Traffic Control Centre was home to the 1261st Communications Squadron (later 2161st Communications Squadron).

It was located in a large brick building towards the rear of the site. Inside the main block there was a reception area leading into the control centre. This consisted of a raised dais for the 'A' desk where all flight information from inwards and outbound air traffic was processed.

This data were then passed to the various radar sections located in a fan formation around the room.

Each section had its own console aligned with the aerodrome it served and a corresponding arrival/departure board. While each section could be manned by only one air traffic controller, they were almost always manned by two; one to control the aircraft and the other to co-ordinate with Ground Control Approach, the tower and base operations.

Three civillian controllers at Anglia Radar

There were also three regular civilian controllers who would handle their own traffic through the Anglia Control area as well as co-ordinating activities with London Control at West Drayton.

Anglia Radar, having left the site by 1967, were replaced by No.1 Air Control Centre (1ACC) which provided rapidly-deployable air defence radar for overseas operations.

1ACC had recently returned from Zambia and the site continued to be known unofficially as Anglia site by those stationed there. A new inflatable radome was built across the road on the edge of the airfield to protect a AN/TPS-34 Sperry 3-d Radar.

Photo:The administration H Blocks
Photo by Nick Catford

In June 1979, 1ACC moved to Portreath, relieving Wattisham of its Radar unit. The airfield continued in use by the RAF until 1992, when the last flying squadron left. The Army took took up residence in 1993 and remains to this day.

Wattisham Airfield is the largest of the Army's operational UK airfields.

Click here for further information and pictures of Anglia Radar

[Source: Nick Catford]

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Last updated 29th April 2012

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