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Experimental L-band radar at Bushy

Page history last edited by Ian Gillis 7 months, 3 weeks ago Saved with comment







This is derived from notes written by Roy Simons


I have been involved with Bushy since it was purchased by the Marconi Company in 1955. The site is still operated by BAe Systems as a trials site.


(Editors note - sold by BAE in March 2016 - site is being closed and kit recovered where possible - some interesting documents have come to light - 1. 2.    As from April 2018, the site is owned by Supported Business Holdings Limited. Plans for the site are understood to still being formulated. It is presumed Airwave Solutions, who operate the UK emergency services telecoms network, will continue to lease space for their collection of masts etc. The site post code of CM3 8RU was discontinued in 2016 but is now listed by Royal Mail as above.)


Historically, the Company was encouraged by the MOD to acquire a good radar site for L band work - the then existing site at Bedells End sits in a saucer and long range cover was impossible.  Another factor was that the cover changed with the progressive growth of the wheat making day to day correlation of results out of the question. Baddow had a contract to test a new very high power pumped klystron at 10kW peak for the Stage 2 system. In order to do this the company acquired the Bushy site in 1955 and a Type 80 75 foot aerial, mount and turning gear was installed. An L band linear feed was fitted and fed in 1956 by a 2MW transmitter at 250 pps. The klystron never ran. The reflector had a beamwith of 0.8 and was a cosec modified parabola in the vertical plane. It was rotated at 4 rpm.


With a variety of systems attached to this antenna, the company developed a range of transmitters and signal processing systems which were sold all over the world.


Bushy was by no means solely for MOD work, but for most of the time for Company funded developments, not only in radar. There was an ongoing programme to investigate a variety of phenomena and a typical example can be seen here, taken from Dr Eastwood's Appleton Lecture on radar phenomena. One of the more unusual research projects was the investigation into ‘angels’. Dr (Sir) Eric Eastwood and his small team had a great many very early mornings at Bushy, to meet the sunrise and its effect on birds. Some interesting knowledge on migrating birds was found. For example they fly at about 4000 feet, and they do fly at night. The expression ‘ring angels’ is fascinating and relates to the manner in which a flock of starlings take off In all directions at a single precise moment. This body of work is documented in the book "Radar Ornithology" written by Dr. Eastwood. In the book there is a great deal about ‘clutter cancellation’. This is the removal of reflections from unwanted sources, in particular the ground and rain. For many years this problem was and is a continuing problem for all radar designers. One still unexplained effect that was noticed was that the Dutch coast appeared to be traveling slowly towards the UK. A technical issue that was never solved.


During the many subsequent years, the site at Bushy has been used for the development and testing and trials of many systems. On many occasions it has been used to demonstrate the performance of systems to potential customers. One of the buildings was set up as a radar operations facility with several display positions and camera recording apparatus.


The large radar was used as source of radar signals to a number of users, including the RAF at Bawdsey, the Radar Establishment at Great Malvern, and the other Marconi test site at Rivenhall and continually to the Research Centre at Great Baddow. The RAF used this service to monitor some of its exercises


The large antenna was removed after many years and replaced by new designs, including the prototype S654; later the gantry was taken away.


Some oddities.


One of our engineers who was an amateur dowser, found water at the top of the hill.


It is said that the presence of the site has prevented South Woodham Ferrers from expanding northwards. Some say this is good, some say otherwise.


In the early days there, were some complaints about interference with TV. This was when TV was broadcast on Band 1. As a result the activities at Bushy were restricted to daytime only working.


We caused rather a stir when we had to remove some trees from the access road in order to get the very large vehicles and their loads up the hill to the site.


There are a number of references in the History of Ground Radar published by HMSO in 1993 with the title Watching the Skies. [Editors note - listed in References]. This gives details of a number of MOD projects that used the site.



A view showing many of the systems that were tested at Bushy






The gentlemen in the pictures either side of Doc E and E-R are Ron Moule, Bushy Hill Site Manager and John Lancaster respectively.


Later installations



Bushy in the 60s


"Spotlight on Bushy" from Echo October 1977


Secrets of Bushy



Comments (1)

Ian Gillis said

at 3:21 pm on Feb 11, 2016

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