The Rotor Station at Scarinish (Code name FLY) was a Ground Control Intercept (GCI) station consisting of an R8 surface built operations block with a target opening date of 4.12.1953. It was originally intended to fit the following radars: 5 Type 13, 2 Type 14, 1 Type 79, 1 Type 11, 1 Type 7 and later 1 Type 80. An RAF cableing plan of the station shows that the following radars were supplied: a 25' gantry with Type 14 Mk 9, an 8' plinth with Type 14 Mk 8, a vehicle hardstanding (with cable jointing chamber) with Type 11(M) Mk 7 (comprised of RVT435F & 467), two 8' plinths both with Type 13 Mk 6 or 7 (to station requirements), two12' plinths with Type 13 Mk 6 or 7 and a 25' gantry with a Type 13 Mk 6 or 7. The Type 7 and Type 79 radars were not fitted at this station.
Upon the implentation of Stage 1A radar (Type 80), a Type 80 modulator building was constructed on top of hill. As the two Type 14’s were now redundant they were removed.
Most of the buildings and radar plinths still survive within a chain link fence compound that surrounds the hill and the adjacent fields. Unfortunately the R8 operations block has been demolished, it was of modular Seco construction with a wooden framework and stressed asbestos panels and in a derelict state it is unlikely to have survived long in the islands harsh weather conditions. The concrete foundations of the building are still clearly visible among the other remaining buildings on the technical site. Of the seven R8 blocks built or proposed, the only one still standing is at Chenies in Buckinghamshire and it is imperative this building is listed by English Heritage before it too is lost. Chenies is due to close within the next few years.
The most prominent feature, the type 80 modulator building, stands on the summit of Beinn Ghott and is clearly visible from the surrounding roads and the incoming ferry to Scarinish.
The building is now used as a cattle shelter and to store redundant farm machinery. It retains its internal partition walls but has been largely stripped of any original fittings apart from the ventilation trunking and engine beds for the generators which are still in place.
The four concrete bases for the 25 foot steel gantry can still be seen on either side of the building. The 75' long rotating mesh radar reflector was mounted on top of the gantry straddling the building.
There is a small room on the roof, accessed by ladder; this still contains the intake fan for the ventilation system. The 75' long rotating mesh radar reflector was mounted on top of the gantry straddling the building.
The main part of the technical site was located on a flat area to the west of Beinn Gott, between the hill and Loch Caol. Here a number of buildings survive including the stand-by set house, high voltage switchgear house, sub station, sewage ejection building and a water tank overlooking the site. Close to the sub station is a large secure fenced dog compound. Although the R8 operations block has gone, its ‘footprint’ is clearly visible as a series of concrete bases with a ramp and steps up to an entrance porch. The guardhouse was of the standard rotor design for an R6 (i.e. shorter than those found at underground stations). This has also been demolished; it was located alongside the extant sewage ejection building.
Most of the radar array buildings can still be seen scattered across the hillside. The two buildings that were straddled by a 25' gantry are of brick construction; the concrete bases for the gantry are still in place around the buildings. The remaining plinths are of concrete construction with metal ‘ring’ on the roof that would have mounted the radar arrays. One of the 8' plinths is semi sunken with steps down into it while the 12' plinths have steps up into the building. One of the 8' plinths has been demolished, this was located close to the Type 80 modulator building.
Close to the western perimeter fence there is an area of hard standing for the Mobile Type 11 (M) radar which was housed in two vehicles, an RVT435F on which the aerial array was mounted and an RVT467 that housed the radar equipment.
The equipment was plugged into a cable jointing chamber which is still extant. This consists of a free standing ‘cupboard’ containing switchgear and connection points for the radar.
The whole site was surrounded by chain link fencing and all the concrete fence posts can still be seen ringing the hill.
The domestic camp for a radar station is always sited some distance away from the technical site. On top of Balphetrish Hill, two miles to the north west, there is another chain link fenced compound with two rectangular concrete ‘barrack’ with hipped roofs and two RAF style concrete buildings with flat roofs. This could be the domestic sight for RAF Scarinish, although buildings of this design have not been seen at other rotor sites.
- Bob Jenner
- Cold War - Bulding for the nuclear controntation 1946-1989 - published by English Heritage ISBN 1 873592 69 8
- PRO File relating to radar head number codes AIR2/11180
- Tiree Archive