Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Air Defence Research and Development Establishment

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1917 The Searchlight Experimental Establishment (SLEE) was founded on Woolwich Common to conduct anti‐aircraft weapons and searchlight research.

1924 SLEE was renamed the Air Defence Experimental Establishment (ADEE) and moved from Woolwich to Biggin Hill.

1938 The government acquired land to the east of the de Havilland airfield at Somerford for use as the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) at which the new Chain Home defence radar system could be developed.

1939 ADEE was moved from Biggin Hill to Christchurch and became Air Defence Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE).

A radio-location system for coastal artillery was developed for detecting ships, which was then adapted for detection of low‐flying aircraft. A gun‐laying radio-locator, developed by ADEE, entered service for control of anti‐aircraft fire.

1942 it was realised that the ADRDE site was vulnerable to attack by German commandos, as had happened at Havre, and so the activities were transferred to Malvern, combining them with the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) to form the Radar Research Establishment.

1943 The Somerford site was subsequently occupied by the Signals Research and Development Establishment which moved down from Woolwich where it had suffered from air raids.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • History of Somerford [1]
  • History of MOD innovation [2]