Chain Home Radar and
RAF Drone Hill Site
Today the site of the Radar Station is used in part as a caravan park. The rest of the site has been left to nature.
The caravan site is situated on the area which once contained the Radar Transmitter Room, four large Transmitter aerials and the accommodation and office buildings. None of the aerials exists although most of the concrete bases can be found. The Transmitter building is now used as the caravan site function room. All of the blast walls have been removed and the building extensively modified. The large house was the officers quarters and is now used by the caravan site manager.
The Receiver Building and site of the four receiver aerials has been abandoned and in a very poor state. None of the aerials exists but again all of their bases can be found among the bushes. The Receiver Room is almost as it was when it ceased working but in a dangerous state.
The auxiliary Power House still stands but is also in a poor state. The station used the normal mains electricity and the power house was used in the case of a failure of the main supply.
Spread around the site are several Pillboxes.
To see a selection of photographs of the site as it is today click on the links below. This will open a new window.
In August 1936, Bawdsey became the first of five operational Chain Home Radar stations - the Thames Estuary Chain - placed around the South East corner of England. Air Chief Marshall Dowding asked for a further three stations at Drone Hill, West Beckham and Ravenscar to cover the Forth, Humber and Tyne/Tees areas. These all became part of a chain of twenty stations, from the Solent to the Tay and all were on continuous watch by Good Friday, 1939, six months before the outbreak of war.
The name Chain Home comes from the official designation “Chain Station, Home Type” and were commonly called CH stations, or more formally, Air Ministry Experimental Stations (AMES) Type 1, as a blind to their real purpose.
Drone Hill was the first Chain Home Radar station in Scotland. Construction began in September 1938 and the station was fully operational by the outbreak of the Second World War. The site is situated near Coldingham, south of Dunbar, three and a half miles from the North Sea at an elevation of 215 metres and extends to approximately one square kilometre (excluding some peripheral defence pill boxes). The ground generally slopes gently from the south towards the sea without any significant obstructions. This was a prerequisite of all the Chain Home stations as the landform played a significant role in the propagation and reception of signals.
The site is in fact two distinct sites each surrounded by its own security fence. The east site comprised the transmitter facility, backup power generation, and service buildings. The west site was the receiver compound with its own dedicated facilities.
Inside the Site
The four 360 foot transmitter towers were aligned at an angle of 148o. Giving a “line of shoot” of 58o. The range of the transmitter was between 70 and 140 miles, depending on conditions and the height of the target. The transmitter towers supported a screen of aerials, each capable of operating at a different frequency, which sent a signal out over the North Sea. Any reflected signals from an aircraft were detected by aerials mounted on the receiver towers. By adjusting the signals from different aerials on the four towers information on range, height and direction could be obtained.
Operators, mainly female, inside the Receiver Building would send this information to a Filter Room, in this case in Edinburgh, where data would be collected from other stations and then sent to an operations room where the raids were plotted on a map table.
The APSS is a registered charity
in Scotland, charity No. SC033307