Hillhead, Chain Home Radar Station

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Alternative Names Smiddyseat
Canmore ID 81540
Site Number NJ96SW 30
NGR NJ 9430 6170
Parish TYRIE
Former Region GRAMPIAN
Former District BANFF AND BUCHAN
Datum OSGB36 - NGR
NGR Desc Centred on NJ 9430 6170

Canmore Mapping
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Notes and Activities

Archaeological Notes

NJ96SW 30.00 9430 6170

NJ96SW 30.01 NJ 94205 61633 Building (Transmitter Block)
NJ96SW 30.02 NJ 94427 62607 Building
NJ96SW 30.03 NJ 94108 61877 Building; Masts (Receiver Block)
NJ96SW 30.04 NJ 94259 61591 Pillbox
NJ96SW 30.05 c. NJ 9426 6194 Pillbox
NJ96SW 30.06 NJ 94726 62065 Pillbox; Hut
NJ96SW 30.07 NJ 93919 62311 Pillbox
NJ96SW 30.08 NJ 94572 61850 Pillbox
NJ96SW 30.09 NJ 94453 61590 Pillbox
NJ96SW 30.10 NJ 94183 61686 Pillbox
NJ96SW 30.11 NJ 93976 61911 Pillbox
NJ96SW 30.12 NJ 94579 62327 Bunker; Building
NJ96SW 30.13 Centred NJ 94283 61692 Buildings
NJ96SW 30.14 Centred NJ 94252 61767 Buildings
NJ96SW 30.15 NJ 94714 61649 Pillbox

Camp Site (disused) [NAT]
OS 1:10 000 map, 1980

Radar site and domestic site surrounded by steel frame fence with integrated pillboxes and outer ring of pillboxes. The outer pillboxes are in very good condition. World War II; built of brick and concrete. The whole site is derelict but most structures extant.
Survey by J A Guy for Historic Scotland.
NMRS MS/712/6.

A Chain Home radar station, the transmitter block is at NJ 9450 6165.
Information from Mr I Brown, October 1998

This radar station is visible on post-war RAF vertical air photographs (V/RAF/882, 67-8, flown 30 March 1954) in the triangle of land between Hillhead and Whitewell farmsteadings. All elements of the site are visible, including the four masts surrounding the Rx block (Receiver) at NJ 9410 6188) and four masts in a row (NW to SE) to the immediate NE of the Tx block (transmitting) at NJ 9450 6165. The locations of four pillboxes have been identified from these aerial photographs.
Informaion from RCAHMS (DE), October 2002

This Chain Home Radar Station is situated in arable fields at the summit of a low hill about 392m ESE of Hillhead farmhouse. The radar station occupies about 53 hectares of land and the main area was formerly enclosed within a high metal fence.
The site consists of two large reinforced concrete and brick Transmiiter (Tx) and Receiver blocks (Rx), both of which have had the entrances enlarged to accommodate modern tractors as they are being used to store straw and hay bails. The domestic buildings are located between the two large Tx and Rx blocks and all are surrounded by a ring of pillboxes. The accommodation or domestic site is unusual in that it is located with the radar station fence and not remotely situated as with other military installations.
There are some dispersed sites relating to the site, at NJ (NJ96SW 30.02, NJ96SW 30.06, NJ96SW 30.12 ), notably the remote reserve and buried reserve between 600m and 800m to the N and NNE along with a pillbox and hut.
The remains of this military installation are notable for their relative completeness including the perimeter defences of type 27 and type 24 pillboxes, of which only one has been removed. More recently much of the metal perimeter fence has been removed and only the section on the N side now remains.
No trace of any of the mast bases was seen on the date of visit nor are they depicted on any of the OS maps.
The location was selected by the Air Ministry as a Radar site in 1939 and it was photographed by the Luftwaffe in 1940 whilst still under construction being named as Smiddyseat after the farmsteading to the S. The evidence on the photograph was interpreted by the Germans as a Radio Station (RCAHMS Luftwaffe Collection no.C47680). The station would appear to have become operational as a final type Chain Home station during March 1942, though it had been working as an Intermediate Chain Home (ICH) from 1941.
The Radar Station at Hillhead closed operationally during March 1946 and dismantling, such as it was began at the end of that month.
Visited by RCAHMS (DE, NG), 28 February 2008

Books and References

Burns, R W (1996) 'Technology and air defence, 1914 to 1945', Trans Newcomen Soc, vol.67
Page(s): 161-183

Redfern, N I (1998) Twentieth century fortifications in the United Kingdom, 5 V. V.1 Introduction and sources; V.2 Site gazetteers: Wales; V.3 Site gazetteers: Northern Ireland; V.4 & 5 Site gazetteers: Scotland York
Page(s): 148 Held at RCAHMS F.6.9.CBA

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