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Beinn Ghott Radar Station

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Type 80 Modulator Building, 2003
Type 80 Modulator Building
© J M Briscoe

Beinn Ghott Radar Station was a ROTOR Radar Station (Code name FLY) constructed on Beinn Ghott near Scarinish on the island of Tiree. The Ground Control Intercept (GCI) station was built in 1953, and closed a few years later, when the ROTOR system became obsolete. The site was maintained by the RAF for some time thereafter, in case it was required to reopen.

A further building related to the site has been identified to the north west, near Balephetrish Hill, identified as a communications block which served the radar station.

Once Beinn Ghott Radar Station had finally been abandoned, most of the technical equipment had been cleared from the site, and a number of buildings demolished, although the Type 80 (control) modulator building still stands out on the hilltop. Around this, much of the site can still be recognised, with features such as the stand-by set house, high voltage switchgear house, sub station, sewage ejection building, water tank overlooking the site, and a large secure fenced dog compound.

We are grateful to our friends at Subterranea Britannica for permission to reproduce the following details. Please be sure to review the original report at the links given below, as this contains significant additional images and illustrations.

SiteName: 'RAF Scarinish' ('FLY') GCI R8 ROTOR Radar Station
Beinn Ghott, Isle of Tiree, Argyllshire
OS Grid Ref: NM032456
Sub Brit site visit 31st July 2003 [Source: Nick Catford]

Most of the buildings and radar plinths still survive within a chain link fence compound that surrounds the hill and the adjacent fields. Unfortunately the R8 operations block has been demolished, it was of modular Seco construction with a wooden framework and stressed asbestos panels and in a derelict state it is unlikely to have survived long in the islands harsh weather conditions. The concrete foundations of the building are still clearly visible among the other remaining buildings on the technical site.

The most prominent feature, the type 80 modulator building, stands on the summit of Beinn Ghott and is clearly visible from the surrounding roads and the incoming ferry to Scarinish.

The building is now used as a cattle shelter and to store redundant farm machinery. It retains its internal partition walls but has been largely stripped of any original fittings apart from the ventilation trunking and engine beds for the generators which are still in place.

The four concrete bases for the 25 foot steel gantry can still be seen on either side of the building. There is a small room on the roof, accessed by ladder; this still contains the intake fan for the ventilation system. The 75' long rotating mesh radar reflector was mounted on top of the gantry straddling the building.

The main part of the technical site was located on a flat area to the west of Beinn Gott, between the hill and Loch Caol. Here a number of buildings survive including the stand-by set house, high voltage switchgear house, sub station, sewage ejection building and a water tank overlooking the site. Close to the sub station is a large secure fenced dog compound. Although the R8 operations block has gone, its 'footprint' is clearly visible as a series of concrete bases with a ramp and steps up to an entrance porch. The guardhouse was of the standard rotor design for an R6 (i.e. shorter than those found at underground stations). This has also been demolished; it was located alongside the extant sewage ejection building.

Most of the radar array buildings can still be seen scattered across the hillside. The two buildings that were straddled by a 25' gantry are of brick construction; the concrete bases for the gantry are still in place around the buildings. The remaining plinths are of concrete construction with metal 'ring' on the roof that would have mounted the radar arrays. One of the 8' plinths is semi sunken with steps down into it while the 12' plinths have steps up into the building. One of the 8' plinth has been demolished, this was located close to the Type 80 modulator building.

Close to the western perimeter fence there is an area of hard standing for the Mobile Type 11 (M) radar which was housed in two vehicles, an RVT435F on which the aerial array was mounted and an RVT467 that housed the radar equipment.

The equipment was plugged into a cable jointing camber which is still extant. This consists of a free standing 'cupboard' containing switchgear and connection points for the radar.

The domestic camp for a radar station is always sited some distance away from the technical site. On top of Balphetrish Hill, two miles to the north west, there is another chain link fenced compound with two rectangular concrete 'barrack' with hipped roofs and two RAF style concrete buildings with flat roofs. This could be the domestic sight for RAF Scarinish, although buildings of this design have not been seen at other rotor sites.

© Subterranea Britannica


Beinn Ghott ROTOR site, 2003
Beinn Ghott ROTOR site
© J M Briscoe
Comms block at Balephretish, 2003
Comms block at Balephetrish
© J M Briscoe

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