A Tour of Orford Ness Nature Reserve Military Test Sites

Brought to you by The Wireless Heritage Group

At this event you will spend a full day exploring the fascinating 20th century military history of Orford Ness in Suffolk with the help of an expert guide from the National Trust. 

About the event

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. 

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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.

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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.

You can follow @CambWireless on Twitter and tweet about this event using #CWHeritage.

SIG Champions

Stirling Essex - Director, Espansivo

Stirling Essex has over 25 years of product development, product management, strategic marketing and business development experience in many areas of wireless technology, and has been intimately involved in the development of test systems for GSM, CDMA (IS-95), 3G (W-CDMA) and LTE. He founded Espansivo, a technology consultancy specialising in helping organisations with their technology, product and business decisions, in 2005. Stirling was previously a co-champion of the CW Future Wide Area Wireless Special Interest Group and has been a member of the CW Board since 2004.

Stephen Haseldine - Chairman, Deaf Alerter, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Radio Communication Museum of Great Britain

Steve Haseldine FIMC FRSA is the Chairman of three companies, Alerter Group plc, Electronic Communications Ltd and Evets Communications Ltd, businesses that design and manufacture in-building, radio-based, emergency communication systems; software defined radio solutions and operate PMR, FM Broadcast and Cellular transmission sites. He is also the Chairman of the Radio Communication Museum of Great Britain.  His connection with radio started over 50 years ago as a schoolboy, when he became a licensed radio amateur, an interest which has influenced much of his professional career. Sponsored as a Computer Science student focused on software development with Rolls Royce, he subsequently worked for GEC Telecommunications before becoming a Management Consultant with Price Waterhouse. Starting his own software house and radio communication businesses in 1979 he has found it rewarding that his two passions of software and radio have evolved into an almost common technology. He has seen his own companies being judged the Midlands Best Small Business of 2013 and the leading Company for Innovation in both 2012 and 2013. As well as remaining an active radio amateur, Steve has now amassed one of the largest personal collections of communication radio equipment in the UK, with over 3000 receivers, transmitters and ancillary equipment, the vast majority of which are fully operational. The collection spans from the early spark transmitters to the latest Software Defined Radios.

Simon Rockman - Editor & Publisher, CW Journal, Founder, Fuss Free Phones

Simon Rockman lives at both ends of the adoption bell curve. As an experienced technology writer he was the editor of Personal Computer World in the late 1980s and went on to found What Mobile magazine which he ran for ten years, and has reviewed over 300 handsets. As the mobile correspondent for The Register he championed CW writing a number of articles supporting the organisation. He has also had senior roles in telecoms having been the Creative Experience Director at Motorola where he looked at new uses for mobile and Head of Requirements at Sony Ericsson where we worked on innovative devices at entry level. He was the Head of the Mobile Money Information Exchange at the GSMA and has launched Fuss Free Phones an MVNO aimed at older users.

Andy Sutton - Principal Network Architect, British Telecommunications

Andy Sutton is a Principal Network Architect within BT Architecture and Strategy team. He is responsible for 5G end to end network architecture, RAN architecture evolution and mobile backhaul strategy and architecture. Andy holds an MSc in mobile communications from the University of Salford and has over 30 years of experience within the telecommunications industry. Andy’s research interests include; distributed and centralised RAN and core architectures and protocols, network dimensioning, QoS and mobile backhaul (optical transmission, microwave and millimetre wave radio systems, network architecture and protocols along with synchronisation and time distribution in telecommunications networks). He also works on low latency and ultra-reliable networks architecture and design. During his career Andy has worked for Mercury Communications Ltd, Orange, H3G, EE and BT. Andy is a Visiting Professor at the University of Salford and a research mentor at the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey. Andy is a chartered engineer and holds fellowships from the IET, BCS and ITP. Andy contributes to International telecommunications standardisation activities and several industry forums. Andy also has an interest in the history and heritage of telecommunications and is a CW Heritage SIG Champion.

Geoff Varrall - Director, RTT Online

Geoff Varrall joined RTT in 1985 as an executive director and shareholder to develop RTT's international business as a provider of technology and business services to the wireless industry. He co-developed RTT's original series of design and facilitation workshops including 'RF Technology', 'Data Over Radio', 'Introduction to Mobile Radio', and 'Private Mobile Radio Systems and developed 'The Oxford programme', a five day strategic technology and market programme presented annually between 1991 and 2005. Geoff has been running in depth technology and market workshops for the industry for over 33 years, spanning five generations of mobile cellular technology. A co-author of the Mobile Radio Servicing Handbook (Heinemann Butterworth, UK), Data Over Radio, (Quantum Publishing, Mendocino, USA and 3G Handset and Network Design (John Wiley, New York). Geoff's fourth book, Making Telecoms Work – from technical innovation to commercial success (John Wiley) was published in early 2012 followed by 5G Spectrum and Standards published by Artech House in July 2016. His latest book 5G and Satellite Spectrum Standards and Scale is now available from Artech House and can be ordered from http://uk.artechhouse.com/5G-and-Satellite-Spectrum-Standards-and-Scale-P1935.aspx Delegates to this event can get a 25% discount and free posting by applying the discount code VAR25.As a past Director of Cambridge Wireless, Geoff is actively involved in a number of wireless heritage initiatives that aim to capture and record past technology and engineering experience and is a patron of the Science Museum In his spare time he plays Jazz trumpet semi-professionally and is a marathon and ultra-runner.

Nigel Wall - Director, Climate Associates

Nigel Wall is an independent system engineering consultant and Director of Climate Associates Ltd: CAL helps organisations optimise ICT system design based on understanding the whole life carbon footprint cost of deploying innovative ICT technology compared to using current systems. Climate Associates are leading work with ITU-T SG5 and ETSI in standardising the analysis and in determining best practice. Nigel is also involved with Intelligent Transport Systems - 'connected cars' he is the Chair of the ITS UK Communications SIG and the Land Navigation & Location Group at the Royal Institute of Navigation.

Event Location

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Location info

Orford Ness, 65 Quay St, Orford, Woodbridge IP12 2NU

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