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RRH Neatishead

Coordinates: 52°42′51″N 001°28′15″E / 52.71417°N 1.47083°E / 52.71417; 1.47083
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Remote Radar Head Neatishead
Near Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 8YB in England
RRH Neatishead communications masts
Caelum Tuemur
(Latin for 'We Watch over the Sky')[1]
RRH Neatishead is located in Norfolk
RRH Neatishead
RRH Neatishead
Shown within Norfolk
Coordinates52°42′51″N 001°28′15″E / 52.71417°N 1.47083°E / 52.71417; 1.47083
TypeRemote Radar Head
Area11 hectares (27 acres)[2]
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byRAF Boulmer, No. 1 Group (Air Combat)
Open to
the public
No, except for the RAF Air Defence Radar Museum
Site history
Built1941; 83 years ago (1941)
In use1941 – present
Garrison information
OccupantsRadar Flight (South)

Remote Radar Head Neatishead (/ˈntɪshɛd/ NEE-tis-hed),[3] and commonly abbreviated RRH Neatishead, is an air defence radar site operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF). It is located approximately 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) north-east of Norwich in the county of Norfolk, England.

Originally known as Royal Air Force Station Neatishead, or commonly RAF Neatishead,[4] it was established during the Second World War, and consists of the main technical site located at Neatishead, together with a number of remote, and sometimes unmanned sites.

The station motto is Caelum Tuemur, meaning 'We Watch over the Sky'. The station badge depicts the lowered head of a horned bull; and relates to the origins of the word 'Neatishead', meaning 'the vassal's household'.[5]

RAF Neatishead was previously 'parented' (for administrative and support functions) by the nearby RAF Coltishall (a fighter station latterly operating four squadrons of the ground-attack SEPECAT Jaguar). Following the closure of RAF Coltishall in 2006, RRH Neatishead became parented by RAF Marham in West Norfolk.



When RAF Neatishead was first established, its primary function was as a 'Control and Reporting Centre' (CRC) for the south of the United Kingdom.[4] Equipment previously located in the base included: Type 7 GCI, AN/FPS-6 height finding radar, Type 80 'Green Garlic' radar, Type 84 radar, Type 85 'Blue Yeoman' radar, 3 Decca (later Plessey) HF200 height finding radars, and a R15 radar.[6]

On 16 February 1966, a fire broke out in the bunker, RAF station fire teams[7] were unsuccessful in putting the fire out and so local civilian fire crews were called. Three civilian firefighters died and the fire burned for nine days before it was fully extinguished.[8] Later that year, LAC Cheeseman was sentenced to seven years for starting the fire and causing the deaths.[9] The station was closed for eight years, re-opening in 1974 after a major rebuild of the bunker complex.[10] The operational nature of the work undertaken at Neatishead was transferred to the previously mothballed site at RAF Bawdsey in 1966, with Bawdsey reverting to a care and maintenance programme when Neatishead came back on line in 1974.[11]

In November 1982, Group Captain Joan Hopkins took command of the station, becoming the first female RAF officer to take command of an operational station.[12]

During July 1990 the Type 85 radar was decommissioned after 23 years of use, it was replaced by the Type 93.[13]

In April 2004, the decision was taken to substantially reduce activities at RAF Neatishead, and by 2006, the base had been downgraded from an RAF station to Remote Radar Head (RRH) status, but its adjacent museum remains open. Its former gate guardian, a F-4 Phantom previously based at RAF Wattisham, was cut up for scrap in 2005 despite interest from the Radar Museum.[14]

In October 2006, local news media reported that a buyer had been found for the now disused section of the base.[15] The 25 1/2 acres site was advertised again in January 2010, with an asking price of £4,000,000.[16] The site was subsequently purchased for an undisclosed amount by Zimbabwean-born British entrepreneur William Sachiti.[17]



RRH Neatishead controls the remote site of RRH Trimingham with its Lockheed TPS 77 radar. It forms part of the UK's air defences – namely the UK 'Air Surveillance And Control System' (ASACS), and is part of the larger NATO air defence.[18]

RRH Neatishead is adjacent to the RAF Air Defence Radar Museum.[19]

In July 2022, it was announced that the radar equipment at RAF Trimingham would be moved 8 miles (13 kilometres) to the RRH Neatishead site due to the threat of coastal erosion, and the increased interference experienced by radar operators from the off-shore wind turbines; the move is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.[20][21]

See also



  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London, England: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 28. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ "Annex A - Estate Baseline - 2009" (PDF). Defence Estates Development Plan (DEDP) 2009. GOV.UK (Report). Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 15. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  3. ^ British Broadcasting Corporation (1971). G.M. Miller (ed.). BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names. London, England: Oxford University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780194311250. OCLC 251996308. [NEET-stəd] is the traditional village pronunciation. [NEET-is-hed] is used by Service personnel for the local R.A.F. Station.
  4. ^ a b "The Cold War is over but the task remains". RadarMuseum.co.uk. Neatishead: RAF Air Defence Radar Museum. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Neatishead". Survey of English Place-Names, University of Nottingham. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  6. ^ Leech, Steven T. (2017). "Echoes from the recent past: an archaeological ethnography of historic cold war radar sites in the UK" (PDF). University of Manchester. p. 218.
  7. ^ "RAF Recruitment | Firefighter". Recruitment.RAF.MoD.uk. Royal Air Force, Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022.
  8. ^ "History of Breathing Apparatus". Fire.org.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Hansard report - RAF Neatishead radar station fire". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 8 August 1966. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  10. ^ Historic England. "RAF Neatishead (1319822)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  11. ^ McCamley, Neil (2013). "6: The ROTOR Radar System". Cold War secret nuclear bunkers : the passive defence of the Western World during the Cold War. Barnsley, England: Leo Cooper. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-1-78303-010-1.
  12. ^ Horseman, Martin, ed. (February 1983). "RAF's first woman CO of operational station". Armed Forces. Shepperton, England: Ian Allan. p. 47. ISSN 0142-4696.
  13. ^ March 1991, p. 83.
  14. ^ "Site name: Wattisham Mk. 2 Bloodhound missile site". SubBrit.org.uk. Subterranea Britannica. 10 August 2006. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
  15. ^ "Buyer found for RAF Neatishead site". Eastern Daily Press. 21 October 2006. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
  16. ^ "RAF Neatishead" (PDF). PackingtonEstate.net. Barlow Associates. January 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
  17. ^ Clark, Derin (14 May 2022). "'Tesla-like' robot hub set for Norfolk former RAF base". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  18. ^ "Remote Radar Head (RRH) Trimingham". Royal Air Force. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Royal Air Force Air Defence Radar Museum". CharityCommission.gov.uk. Charity Commission. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  20. ^ Grimmer, Dan (6 July 2022). "Crumbling coast fear means Norfolk's 'golf ball' radar must be moved". Eastern Daily Press.
  21. ^ "RAF Neatishead radar dome as seen from the air". North Norfolk News. 27 January 2023.
  • March, Peter R. (1991). Royal Air Force Yearbook 1991. Fairford, UK: Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.