The Decca Legacy


Through the period 1949 to 2009 a great many radar equipments were designed, manufactured, installed and commissioned around the world by a company that had modest beginnings as Decca Radar of Brixton, London. The company progressed to establish the radar design, manufacturing and testing facility currently operated by BAE Systems, at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, along with various other design and manufacturing units in the ’Home-Counties’. It was thought fitting to mark this 60-year period by recording some significant achievements of the Decca, Plessey, Siemens, and BAE Systems engineers before memories fade.


R.L. (Ron) Burr. F.I.E.T., grew up in Chelmsford, the home of radio. During the Second World War Ron worked as a laboratory mechanic at the Great Baddow, Marconi Research Establishment as part of a team designing magnetrons, reflex klystrons and travelling wave tubes. After the war he went to London University, qualified in Physics and joined the Decca Radar Company under S.R. Tanner, who was leading a team engaged in designing a marine radar that was to become the Type 159. Ron progressed through the Company and, at the time of its design team moving to the Isle of Wight held the post of Chief Engineer. Returning to Surrey in 1971, still employed by the Radar Company, he then spent a period of time with ‘Plessey Services’ at Addlestone, leaving the Company in 1981. Part time consultancy activities were then undertaken, before retiring in 1990. Ron now lives at Arundel in West Sussex.

E.O. (Eddie) Grove joined Decca Radar in 1951 at Shannons Corner, New Malden, and likes to recall that the only job he ever applied for during his 44years time-span with the Company commanded a princely salary of £2.5s/week. After eleven years with the Engineering Unit (The Laboratory) he went on to oversee the implementation of supply contracts for more than one hundred AR-1 Radar systems, along with contracts for many other S-band radar systems, after which he served as Production Control Manager and Field Operations Manager, each for many years. He took part in the move of the Heavy Radar Group to the Isle of Wight in 1964 and retired in 1995. Today he is living at Wootton Bridge on the Isle of Wight.

Our thanks and appreciation is expressed to Joan Grove for the patient way she has used her computing skills when shaping our memories into this readable form.


There was much help from many past colleagues who worked for Decca Radar, Plessey Radar, Siemens/Plessey and present day employees of BAE Systems, this in the form of photographs and technical documentation. Without their help and encouragement this book could not have been written. We are also indebted to Mike Cowlard and Lyndon Jones who checked the text for technical accuracy and offered constructive suggestions. Further, recognition goes to the Company for allowing the reproduction of many photographs and some text.

All of the material reproduced here is already in the Public Domain and much of it became available to individuals when the Management of the Radar Company decided to dispose of the photographic and text archive relating to past products.

Author's Note

Published by E O Grove, November, 2010 - on behalf of the Author and Contributors.

© R.L. Burr - but his contribution and all others are freely released for use in the writing of all other possible radar histories.

BAE SYSTEMS has not approved or endorsed any of the contents of this book or their use. BAE SYSTEMS does not make any warranty or representation concerning the contents of this book, or the accuracy or completeness of the contents. To the fullest extent permitted by law, BAE SYSTEMS accepts and assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the contents of this book.

Every effort has been made to respect the copyright of images used, the greater majority belongs to BAE and their use is gratefully acknowledged. Where provided by ‘Field Staff’ photographs come with their authorisation to publish.

It is believed that all the material used is already in the public domain and no detail (formula or equation) is printed here that would in any way damage the Company’s intellectual property rights or commercial interests.

The reader will find that the text is a personal reflection of a firmly linked progression of radar system designs and their related researched techniques, in which the contributors were deeply involved. Their contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

The book is not a formal history of the whole of the British Radar Industry, although it may well be useful to any other person or organisation that may wish to document such a record.

After printing and distribution costs have been met all funds generated will go to the charity SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and Families Association).

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