- RAF Locking -

I have received this Email and display it here as an endorsement of my text.

Date: 16 May 2006


By sheer chance I have just happened on your web page referencing RAF Locking - that and your other content immediately took me back fifty years to 1956 when I also did National Service there as an instructor, and subsequently went on to work at Marconi doing development work on amongst other kit the Type 7 and Type 80. Your memory is considerably better than mine so reading all your adventures and experiences was a real wallow in nostalgia - it is one of the wonders of the web that such personal information can now be made available for general pleasure. Just thought you would like to know that your efforts are appreciated.

Regards Alan Hartley-Smith (once 2736797)

Alan tells me that he spent his National Service as an instructor on the Type 64 Fixed Coil Console from November 55 to November 56. He enhanced the fault finding training on that equipment by initiating feedback from the radar sites to enable him to introduce more realistic problems for the students to correct.

After his civilian work described above he worked with the introduction of computer techniques of data handling into various aspects of a variety of later radar systems. Following that he was involved with the marketing of ATC radars at home and abroad.

I have also received this from Peter Harry in July 2011 and he very obviously knows much about RAF Locking than I do. Thanks Peter, I'm always happy to receive corrective information from any authoritive source as I would hate to be the imparter of "duff gen." I hope you don't mind it being shown here.

Hi Don

I’ve just come across your web site and read your recollections of your time training at RAF Locking, an enjoyable read for those us that trained there. Perhaps I can add a few comments if you don’t mind.

The wooden huts at Locking where airman u/t fitters and mechanics were billeted were known as 8 Area. 8 Area was demolished in the mid 60’s when the station was rebuilt. I arrived at Locking in 1963 and 8 Area was still in use then. I was an Apprentice at the time and venturing anywhere near 8 Area was absolutely forbidden, obviously didn’t want us to mix.

The training blocks in my time were:

1T = Ground Wireless

2T = Ground Radar

Stores and gym in the middle

3T = General Studies, Physics, Basic Principles

4T = Workshops

Bellman Hanger (one of them) = Diesel Generators

It may be the training use of the blocks changed from your time at Locking in the late 50’s

I was an Apprentice from 1963 to 66 and returned to Locking as a Cpl instructor in 1970 to 73. I well remember my first ‘lesson’ - Radar Principles with a fitter’s class in 2T. The guys were all ex mechanics so seamed a lot older than me at the time, I was 21. I didn’t get a hard time of it thank goodness. I spent most of my instructional duties on T80, FPS6 and IFF Mk10. In the 60’s and 70’s there were two T80 labs next to each other, both feeding into dummy loads as you recall. Your diagram of the ‘rat race’ brought back memories and the photo of the ‘Mekon’, mercury arc rectifier. One party trick the instructors used was to hold a fluorescent tube in one hand and wave it around when the T80 was transmitting and it would light!

The Hellerman pliers you mention in workshops, we used to call then ‘honeymoon pliers’!

Closure of RAF Locking was on 31st March 2000. I’ve just updated my website (www.104thlocking.org.uk) after being contacted by the last C.O. of Locking. There is often confusion on closure as No. 1 Radio School closed before the station. I need to check but various dates for the closure of the Radio School exist. You have a link on your site to some photos of Locking I took just before closure (on my web site). I was at Locking for an Apprentice reunion and thought if I didn’t take the photos no one else would. It was an eerie place just before closure. Although some training was still going on the camp appeared deserted, a far cry from the days when thousands of apprentices and airmen were milling about.

To update you on the RAF Locking site:

The guardroom has now been demolished and the site is generally overgrown. Re development has now started with houses being built between the sports field and down the hill to 1T. The complete re development of Locking is now underway! I haven’t been to Locking recently but I do have spies in the area.

There is an excellent book for all of us ex radar fitters that had no idea of the ‘big plan’. The book title is ‘Watching the Skies’ by Jack Gough, ISBN 0-11-772723-7, published by HMSO. The book covers the entire decision making re air defence radar post war to the 70’s. Worth getting a copy but like me you may have to resort to eBay or second hand book sites. A couple of extracts:

1. ‘The ROTOR 2 programme required the installation of five T80’s (Trimmingham, St Margarets, Beachy Head, Bempton and Ventnor)’, these were T80 Mk 1’s with 1 MW transmitters. (Later T80 Mk 3’s had 2 MW transmitters and were used at GCI stations, Ventnor was a CEW station). The five T80’s being used as early warning radar taking over from the Chain Home radar of war time vintage.

2. ‘The Fighter Command 1958 plan proposed a simpler C & R plan based on a few GCI stations (Ventnor was a CEW station)’ which meant the end of Ventnor as an RAF radar station. 1959 plans already designating Ventnor as a civil ATC radar site. In 1963 Ventnor had 2 x T264A’s (whatever they are) and SSR. You may know better on that one though.

One thing I regret is that I had a complete set of training notes from Locking for the T80 which I carried around for years until one move and I threw them out!!!!

All the best

Pete Harry

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Text © 2005 D.C.Adams