Radar Recollections - A Bournemouth University / CHiDE / HLF project


Leeson House

It was essential that research and development continued apace during the summer of 1940. The site at Worth Matravers was growing rapidly but not sufficiently quickly to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of scientists and technicians that were being drafted in during that summer. Two large country houses, Leeson House (an empty girls' school) just 3 miles away from TRE Worth and Durnford House (a preparatory school in Worth Matravers) were hastily requisitioned in September 1940. Both sites were used as laboratories and were rapidly filled with equipment and personnel and hoards of mice!

Leeson House From the air

A.P Rowe was the Chief Superintendent of TRE and he believed in the importance of the 'centimetric radar' but was dubious that such a system could be developed quickly enough to have any impact on the war effort. Nevertheless, he gathered a prominent team together that included some leading scientists of the day; P.I.Dee, H.W.B.Skinner, W.B.Lewis, Bernard Lovell, D.W.Fry, John Cockroft and J.A.Ratcliffe are just some of the people involved. The work was to continue and some aspects were remain somewhat 'unnoticed' by officialdom. Leeson house was very suitable in that respect; near to TRE Worth but separated.

Unusual pieces of electronic equipment
Unusual Equipment
Each laboratory was soon filled with test gear and experimental circuits concerning AI and the transmitters and aerial designs that would permit installation into the cramped space of an aeroplane.

Whilst the principles of airborne radar were now understood, the issues of weight, size and power supply all still had to be resolved.There was a spectacular view from Leeson House across Swanage bay and to the Isle of Wight, some 40 miles away. This geography was utilised to test the 9 cm and then the 3 cm radars. The 9 cm systems adopted by the Navy were developed here at this stage.

The staff at Leeson House, only there for 18 months, were moved to Malvern in March 1942 along with all the other TRE personnel.