Site Records


SiteName: Isle of Man Radar Stations

 

Sub Brit site visit 11th April 2003

[Source: Nick Catford]

Air Commodore Keith Park, Air Marshall Dowding's Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) was delegated the job of siting the RAF's radar stations on the Isle of Man. He was later Air Vice-Marshall and AOC at 11 Group, responsible for Battle of Britain from the underground headquarters at RAF Uxbridge.

Discarding scientific advice from Bawdsey to site a Chain Home station on the summit of Snaefell, Park preferred the option of two Chain Home stations, one at the north end of the island and the other to the south.

The sites selected early in 1940 were Bride at the north (SC463031) and Scarlett to the south. (The RAF sometimes referred to the southern site as Scarlet although the traditional spelling is Scarlett). Both sites were designated Advance Chain Home (ACH) installations being brought on line with temporary shorter timber masts to support the transmitter arrays, pending the availability of standard 'west coast' 325 foot guyed steel masts. Both stations were in use by September 1940.

Subsequently, Bride was found to be surplus to requirements being covered from Scotland and Ireland to the north and by 1942 it had been closed and stripped of equipment. Scarlett did not last much longer.

 

The Island's airport at Ronaldsway had been requisitioned by the Air Ministry in 1940, but in the first quarter of 1941 they agreed to the transfer of the grass airfield to the Admiralty for development as a fleet air arm training unit. It was renamed HMS Urley. As Scarlett's 325' aerial masts were well inside the mandatory 6000 yard construction limit, the station was closed shortly after the completion of a new station at Dalby in 1942 with both stations running simultaneously for a time to ensure unbroken cover. With the closure of Scarlett, Dalby remained the only CH station on the island for the remainder of the war.

Photo:The receiver and operations block at Scarlett
Photo by Nick Catford

At the same time as development of Chain Home, Chain Home Low had been developed to fill the gaps left by the CH. CHL stations were able to detect low flying aircraft that could not be detected by Chain Home stations. There were two CHL stations proposed for the Island. To the south Cregneish was built on top of Meayll Hill, construction starting in 1939; this initially reported to Scarlett and subsequently Dalby. A CHL at Maughold was selected in the north to work with Bride. The Chain Home stations reported to the 9 Group filter room at Longley Lane, Preston.

Cregneish came on-line in July 1940, two months ahead of Scarlett but at this time Maughold hadn't been started and was later abandoned.

Cregneish was developed as a major CHL site, initially equipped with two AMES Type 2 radars. These were later supplemented with an AMES Type 31, Coastal Defence (CD) No.1 MkV manned and used by the Navy to monitor shipping and an AMES Type 52. The station was an important surveillance site monitoring the primary shipping lanes from North America to Liverpool.

As Creigneish & Dalby formed an important component of the British early warning network they both remained operational for a few years after the war. Dalby was eventually mothballed. In 1949 it was decided to reactivate the site but an RAF team were unable to make it operational and Dalby was abandoned.

Today little remains at Meayll Hill although the bases of a number of buildings can be easily identified. There are still substantial remains at Bride although one of the technical blocks is located on a land-fill site.

The two 'west coast' Chain Home stations at Dalby and Scarlett are both well preserved with all the technical blocks still standing and put to farm use. West Coast stations rely on dispersal rather than protected buildings for defence with two transmitter and two receiver blocks with duplicate equipment in each. Transmitter aerials at these stations were mounted on 325' high guyed steel masts while the receiving aerials were slung between 240' wooden towers.

The west coast stations used Type B or Type C operations blocks.


Transmitter masts (left) and receiver masts at Dalby.

The type B blocks lacked a protected roof while the Type C blocks were usually completely covered with earth for protection. There was also a protected stand-by set house (generator).

Further information and pictures about this site continues here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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