Ravenscar WW2 Radar Station on the Yorkshire Coast

Empty buildings of a World War 2 radar station stand in a cliff top field at Ravenscar

Ravenscar Chain Home Low Radar Station lies in a field on a cliff top just to the south of the village of Ravenscar near Scarborough, an area known as Bent Rigg.

Situated next to the Cleveland Way National Trail and ‘Cinder Track’ bridleway which follows the old Whitby–Scarborough railway line, visitors are welcome to enter the field to take a closer look.
 
Constructed as part of a coastal defence radar system in 1941, the station continued in use until after the Second World War. Today you can still see the intact remains of four brick buildings: a transmitter/receiver block, fuel store, engine house and a communications hut with a distinctive barrel shaped corrugated roof. In the corner of the same field, the footings of a complex of about a dozen barrack blocks and other domestic buildings are visible, though it takes a little more imagination to picture them in their heyday.
 
Following the end of the war, the buildings were sadly neglected for many years. It seems likely that most of the domestic/barracks structures were demolished when the station was decommissioned although one or two were kept, possibly for agricultural use. In this exposed and windswept spot livestock certainly appreciate any form of shelter, as proved by the several inches of muck found covering the floors of the remaining structures.
 
The run-down buildings eventually became a bit of an eyesore and proposals for their demolition were seriously considered. Thankfully, their value has been better recognised in more recent times. They were surveyed by a volunteer and a National Trust Consultant Archaeologist in 2000; both the radar buildings and the remains of the barrack complex were given Scheduled Monument status by English Heritage in 2002.
 

Higher Level Stewardship

The field the radar station stands in is owned by the National Trust and is under the tenancy of a local farmer. It has been subject to a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) environmental scheme via Natural England since October 2009.
 
The scheme helps us work closely with the farmer, other organisations and experts to manage the remains and ensure their long-term survival. The first stages included understanding and recording the site more thoroughly, as well as providing better access for visitors and new ways of telling the buildings' story. Funding was provided by Natural England and Scheduled Monument Consent to carry out work was granted by English Heritage in September 2012.
 

Cleaning and clearance

We employed a specialist contractor to remove rubble and any remaining asbestos sheeting cemented into the concrete bases of the barrack block ruins. Materials from the radar complex that had been stored on site were removed and put in safe storage by the Trust. Interiors of the buildings also had to be cleared of sheep dung and other debris, one of the less glamorous aspects of buildings conservation in the countryside.
 

Recording

Chartered architects and archaeologists were commissioned to produce a draft archaeological survey. This included a photographic survey of the buildings in their present condition and notable surviving features (e.g. blast shutters on transmitter/receiver block windows), a feature-by-feature survey, a plan of the whole complex and other documentary research.
 

Repair works

With buildings clear of debris, we undertook work to slow further decline of their condition and make them safe for the tenant farmer and his livestock, visitors and Trust staff. A number of crumbling walls had to be repaired and reinforced, several walls repointed and secure grilles fitted in each doorway to prevent access by livestock and further vandalism to the interiors.
 

Interpretation and visitor engagement

We have put in a series of six information panels to give visitors a brief history of the buildings as part of our side of the HLS agreement. Also, National Trust Rangers lead a number of educational visits to the site each year; funded by Natural England, they are free to members of the public, schools and other groups. For details of free guided walks under the scheme, search our events below.