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Restoration comes to Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 22:00 30 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

ONE of the BBC's best-loved programmes is to come to Suffolk this summer.

Griff Rhys Jones and the gang from Restoration will give viewers the opportunity to save the transmitter block at Bawdsey – home of the world's first radar station.

ONE of the BBC's best-loved programmes is to come to Suffolk this summer.

Griff Rhys Jones and the gang from Restoration will give viewers the opportunity to save the transmitter block at Bawdsey - home of the world's first radar station.

The mysterious, overgrown T-block was built in the windswept grounds of the historic Bawdsey Manor between 1937 and 1939.

At the start of the last war, it was one of the most important buildings in England and pivotal to the nation's victory in the Battle of Britain.

In 1936, the RAF bought Bawdsey Manor, an isolated Victorian mansion on a desolate part of the Suffolk coast.

In it, they housed a remarkable group of boffins, including the physics genius Professor Robert Watson-Watt.

Their task was to develop the nascent radio direction-finding technology into an operational device that could detect approaching enemy aircraft from a great distance.

Their invention - radar - could do just that and Bawdsey became the first of a chain of radar stations that surrounded the south east of England.

Its staff located the enemy and directed Britain's Spitfires and Hurricanes to the Luftwaffe formations before they reached the coast.

The work carried out here was so secret that the public found out about it only after the War.

Even today, the story of Bawdsey, its radar and the men and women who operated it is little known.

The last of seven transmitter towers that surrounded the block was demolished in September 2000, much to the dismay of the campaigners who had been fighting to save it.

The building is a Grade II* listing - defined as a particularly important building of more than special interest. Only four per cent of listed buildings fall in this category.

Joining Griff at the site will be Restoration's two ruin detectives - conservation architect Ptolemy Dean and historic building surveyor Marianne Suhr - who will explore every corner of the building unearthing its hidden secrets and bringing back to life the romance of their past.

The Bawdsey transmitter block will be competing against 20 other buildings from across the country for the chance to be restored to its former glory.

The show will begin on Saturday May 8.

WEBLINK: www.bbc.co.uk/restoration

The other buildings:

Portencross Castle, Ayrshire

Knockando Wool Mill, Morayshire

Hall of Clestrain, Orkney

Lock-Keeper's Cottage, Belfast

Armagh Gaol, Armagh

The Playhouse, Londonderry

Cardigan Castle, Cardigan;

Llanfyllin Workhouse, Powys

Workingman's Institute & Memorial Hall, Newbridge

The Lion Salt Works, Cheshire

Gayle Mill, Gayle

Sheffield Manor Lodge, Sheffield

Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire

Old Grammar School & Saracen's Head, Kings Norton

Strawberry Hill, Twickenham

Severndroog Castle, Greenwich

Archbishops Palace, Charing

Castle House, Somerset

South Cardon Mine, Bodmin

Sherborne House in Dorset.

nWhat building would you like to see restored? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk


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