This wild and remote shingle spit on the east coast of England was for 70 years a military test site and is now a National Nature Reserve with limited public access. Join the CW Wireless Heritage SIG for a full day exploring the military history of Orford Ness with the help of an expert guide from the National Trust.
With strictly limited capacity this unique event will start at 10.00 and finish at approximately 16.00. This event will cost £25 plus VAT.
A brief history of the site
In 1915 the arrival of part of the Central Flying School's Experimental Flying Section was the start of 70 years of intense military experimentation. Experimental work in WW1 was related to aerial warfare, experiments on parachutes and aerial photography, evaluation of aircraft and the development of camouflage.
In 1935 Robert Watson-Watt and his team arrived to found the 'Ionospheric Research Station' (a cover for the research and development of radar) before moving down the coast to Bawdsey.
During WW2 experimental work concentrated on bomb ballistics, and firing trials to determine the vulnerability of aircraft and aircraft components to attack by various projectiles.
The 1950s saw the construction of specialised facilities for the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE) to test the (non-nuclear) components of nuclear weapons and ensure the safe release of the weapon from an aircraft. Six large test cells were built to carry out environmental tests on atomic weapons, with the most impressive buildings from this period being two test labs - the so-called 'Pagodas' - which have become such well-known landmarks on this part of the coast. The AWRE ceased work on the site in 1971.
In 1968 work started on the top secret Cobra Mist over-the-horizon backscatter radar project. This Anglo-American project was set up to detect and track aircraft, and detect missile and satellite vehicle launchings. This multi-million pound project was ultimately unsuccessful due to noise and interference problems.
The large original building survives at the north end of the site, beyond which originally stood 18 'strings' of antennae in the shape of a large open fan. (Unfortunately we will not be able to visit the Cobra Mist site itself since this is now privately owned and not accessible to the public, but the building can be viewed in the distance as part of our tour)
The event will start at 10.00 and finish at approximately 16.00. No catering facilities are available on the Ness so delegate will need to bring a packed lunch. Please note there is a short boat trip to access the Ness from Orford village, and transport will be by trailer around the site.
This event will cost £25 plus VAT. Please note once booked no refunds will be made unless we have sufficient number of people to meet the minimum number required for the tour.