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The Transmitter Block at Bawdsey is Grade II* listed and one of several structures on the former RAF Bawdsey site that formed the first operational radar station in the world, playing a vital role in the defence of Britain during World War II.
The building fell into disuse in the 1970s and steady deterioration led to it being placed on the ‘Buildings at Risk Register’. Elliston Steady & Hawes was appointed in 2016 as Main Contractor for the restoration and, in close liaison with the Architects (Freeland Rees Roberts) and Historic England, the building has now been completely restored. Inside a new interactive exhibition tracing the history of radar was opened to the public in September 2017.
Extensive repairs were needed to the surrounding concrete blast walls using advanced techniques that will prevent further corrosion of the reinforcement. After careful patching and cleaning, the whole surface was coated with a clear microporous coating that reveals the colour and board-marked finish of the original concrete. This was followed by reinstatement of the earth revetments on two sides (the other blast walls have been left exposed).
The flat concrete roof was temporary propped and then completely removed and replaced with a layer of insulation and a new waterproof membrane. A brick incinerator chimney thought to date from the Cold War was in poor condition and rebuilt in matching materials.
A new accessible lavatory block for visitors was prefabricated, clad in Corten steel and lowered into position between two of the blast walls; the air source heat pump has a similar enclosure. Internal and external decorations have been carefully matched to the original colours, leaving some of the original finishes and fittings visible.
A new exhibition has been installed telling the fascinating story of radar in all its detail and the building was successfully reopened to the public in 2017.
We are proud to state that in 2018 we were awarded with a commendation from the RIBA Suffolk Craftsmanship Awards for Restoration and in 2019 the project was awarded a Civic Trust AABC Conservation Award: Winner. Since this project Elliston, Steady & Hawes have been appointed on a further project for the same Employer.