Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, Malvern

The Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) was a scientific research establishment based in the UK that operated under the Ministry of Defence. It was located primarily at Malvern in Worcestershire, England, with a number of satellite sites around the country. The RSRE motto was Ubique Sentio, latin for “I sense everywhere”.

In 1976, the UK government amalgamated a number of research organisations to for the new RSRE; these included the Royal Radar Establishment (RRE), itself derived from the World War II-era Telecommunications Research Establishment that was located at Bawdsey in Suffolk, the Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE) in Christchruch, Dorset, and the Services Electronic Research Laboratory (SERL) at Baldock. In 1979, the SRDE and SERL moved to Malvern to merge with the RRE’s location that was established there in World War II. The grouping also included several out-stations in Worcestershire, including the ex-RAF airfields at Defford and Pershore and the satellite tracking station at Sheriffs Lench.

In April 1991 RSRE amalgamated with other defence research establishments under the MOD to form the Defence Research Agency, which in April 1995 amalgamated with more organisations to form the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. In June 2001 this became independent of the MoD, with approximately two-thirds of it being incorporated into QinetiQ, a commercial company owned by the MoD, and the remainder into the fully government-owned laboratory DSTL.

The site at Malvern had a long history of inventive discovery involving RADAR, satellite communications, thermography, liquid crystal displays, speech synthesis and the Touchscreen. Under the ROTOR Radar System the outer stations (R1, R2 and R3 types) would feed into a sector operations R4 complex. A prototype of the R4 building was built above ground at RRE Malvern during the initial phases of the ROTOR programme in 1952.  As the primary establishment for radar research, RRE was responsible for the design of both the replacement radars for the Chain Home radars and the command and control systems for UK National Air Defence. Project ROTOR centred around the Type 80 radar and Type 13 height finder. In 1953 the first prototype Type 80 RADAR, code named Green Garlic, was constructed at Malvern. As part of this, trial radar feeds against aircraft sorties were fed into the prototype R4 building to carry out asses and optimise new methods plotting and reporting air activity across the network.

Ironically, further development at the Malvern produced both the Type 84 RADAR, and at the Blue Yeoman RADAR (AMES Type 85). This led to a major upgrade of the UK radar network in the late 1950s – Project ‘Linesman’ (military) / ‘Mediator’ (civil) – based around Type 84 / 85 primary radars and the HF200 height finder. A prototype type 85 radar (Blue Yeoman) was built adjacent to H Building in 1959 and live radar returns were piped into H Building for analysis. This led to the demise of the majority of the ROTOR network, leaving only four R3 type bunkers as RADAR stations.

Subsequently a scheme to combine the military and civil radar networks was proposed. The building supported the research for the fully computerised air defence scheme known as Linesman, developed in the 1960s, and a more integrated and flexible system (United Kingdom Air Defence Ground Environment or UKADGE) in the 1970s. The building was then used for various research purposes until the government relinquished the main site to QinetiQ in 2001. Government scientists continued to use the building until 2008. Throughout its life access was strictly controlled by a dedicated pass system. The site and H Building were demolished in 2020 and redeveloped for housing.

Modified: 22nd Mar 2022