|Why was Worth Matravers
chosen for radar development?
Just before the war in 1939, the Germans sent the Graf Zeppelin to spy
on the radar development work which was then at Bawdsey, on the
Suffolk coast. Bawdsey was evacuated, and the work moved to Worth
in May 1940 (via Dundee). Worth Matravers was chosen because it
had a flat cliff-top site which was good for testing radar. Even
before the scientists arrived, there
was already an operational Chain Home radar station there. Swanage, a holiday town, could
also provide accommodation for the scientists. The radar work
was top secret - so most of the local people didn't know what the
radar scientists were doing. However, the few visitors to a
holiday town in wartime meant landlords were pleased to have tenants.
What's left to see now?
Practically nothing remains of the radar sites at Worth Matravers
other than a small building which is used as a field studies centre, and a
few foundations on the cliff top - see Purbeck.
A memorial to commemorate the
wartime radar work was erected and unveiled in 2001, and there is a
small historical radar exhibition
at the Swanage Museum & Heritage Centre. After the war the RAF continued to operate radars at
Worth, and the last mast was taken down in early 1970s. If you
visit the Square & Compass Inn, look for the sign 'RAF Worth
Matravers' ~ a relic of the RAF's presence.
Why did the radar work move away, and where did it go to?
The Germans had also built radar defences. In February 1942
British paratroops raided one of their radars at Bruneval on the coast
of Normandy. They brought back key pieces of the radar equipment
to work how good it was. Intelligence reports indicated that the
Germans were planning a commando raid on Worth Matravers. Prime
Minister Churchill ordered all the radar development work to move
inland before the next full moon. Malvern was chosen because it
was inland (safer from German attack) and detailed
plans of Malvern Boy's College were already available. The plans
had been drawn up as a
contingency should naval headquarters need to move from London - and
this made planning for the move from Worth easier. In addition,
radar research for the army was due to move from Christchurch to Pale
Manor Farm on the northern edge of Malvern (subsequently called 'North
||How does radar work?
See the what is radar page.
Why was radar important in World War II?
See the radar in World War II page.