Site Name: RAF West Myne ('ZEM') CHEL R11 ROTOR Radar Station
[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 only known photograph of RAF West Myne taken in September 1958. The building top the left of the R11 technical block is a farm building which predates the radar station.
Photo from Somerset County Council
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. 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 was hoped that The ROTOR 3 programme would be complete by 1957 and all technical aspects were classified as 'Super Priority'.
Recent aerial view of the West Myne site, some of the roads are still visible but none of the radar buildings remain. The old farm building is still there.
In a letter to the RFAC on 29th March 1954 the Air Ministry stated "we are providing the smaller buildings with pitched roofs and the two large buildings (the R11 technical block and standby set house) with flat roofs screened by low parapets"
Remote 'small' VHF transmitter and receiver blocks were provided, both were at at Bratton Ball 1 1/4 miles south east of the technical site (transmitter at SS942475 and receiver at SS945474). No domestic camp was provided with personnel being billeted in hotels in Minehead'.
Plan of the R11 at West Myne
Drawn by Bob Jenner & Nick Catford
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 West Myne. Despite the large outlay, the station had a very short operational life. After closure the buildings were immediately demolished and today the only evidence is the road that led to the site and a large flat area about 35 metres in length which was the site of the R11. There is also an area of concrete that is probably the base of one of the ancillary buildings.
[Source: Nick Catford]
Last updated 18th December 2006
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