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An extract from a reminiscence by Roy Simons


Baddow in 1943

My first impression on arriving at Baddow, was of the building covered in hessian camouflage and the gate entrance manned by RAF police.

There was only the one main building which is known as A Block, it was smaller at that time, as the western spur was shorter than at present. The only other important building on the site was the carpenter’s shop, which was the place where the TV research staff were housed until the main building was ready.  In the surrounding fields were a number of huts, mostly occupied by either RAF or RN personnel, but others were used by the research staff in the development of DF systems.

The research staff at Baddow were all in A Block and mostly in the labs. To the south of Charing Cross, if one walked down the corridor, on the right one reached firstly Room 121 which was built as a lab for television development and had a dark room incorporated.  There was also a cupboard with a large selection of historic (in 1943) valves, which I suspect were never preserved.  This lab had become a workshop for use by the engineers in the other labs and there were the usual machine tools.

The next lab was Room 122.  This concentrated on Frequency Measurement etc. One seldom got inside this lab, as there was a high degree of secrecy attached to the work which included crystal calibrators for gunnery and radar.

The next two labs. Rooms 123A and 123B (mostly screened cages) and Room 102 opposite, were the Receiver Section which developed the CR100 and CR150 receivers which were widely used by the services.

Then came Room 124 a lab shared between Section K and Section E. Section K was devoted to work on various forms of direction finding equipment from H. F. Adcock to Spaced Frame mobile systems.  There was an RAF detachment of WOM’s attached to the section who built and installed the designs in vehicles. Section E had a large number of RAF and WRNS personnel, who operated a continuous watch on transmissions using various receiving and D.F. equipment and measured the height of the various ionospheric layers.

On the other side of the corridor from Charing Cross there was a photographic lab, and the area round Charing Cross housed the maintenance section, the stores and the Medical Room.

To the north of Charing Cross, there was a considerable area given over to the manufacture of quartz crystals supported by a lab. Much time was spent ‘growing’ crystals in the basement.

Adjacent was Section C which developed special aerials for warship use. Next to this was the remains of the Valve lab, whose activities, which were kept quiet, included the testing of magnetrons, the majority having been moved to new premises at Waterhouse Lane. The Library was situated to the right of the front door.

The Patent Department had been evacuated to Baddow from London.

Room 9 (the conference room) was set up as the Ionospheric Bureau, where the results of the observations made by the on site service personnel were digested and reported on the hour, every hour, throughout the war. This was staffed by serving officers who reported directly to the RAF and the Royal Navy.

The west arm of the ‘T’ housed the two canteens (staff and works), the kitchen, and the site workshops.

Most of the staff were either in the Home Guard or the Fire Service, some were also in the Baddow Village Fire Brigade and would have to cycle rapidly to the fire station at the end of West Hanningfield Road every time there was an alarm.  

The Home Guard had regular training sessions. The Site Fire Brigade had three full time ‘professional’ firemen to provide training and guidance.  Every day the trailer pump was started, to ensure good working and every night at least two of the firemen kept watch in the decontamination shelter, in case they were needed.



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