View Full Version : RAF Sopley - Southern Radar
I have noticed, or cannot find any mention of RAF Sopley, Southern Radar...
So as a starter, I found this link:
Apparently it, or at least the domestic site, is now called Merryfield Park
web site (http://merryfieldpark.co.uk/)
Above shows the plan when used as the domestic site for the Radar Station
A Brief History of Merryfield Park
In the beginning
Merryfield Park, previously called RAF Sopley, was purchased (not compulsary purchase) by the MOD and built in the early 1950’s as a domestic site for the nearby southern radar station.
The site is 28.5 acres and has 91 individual buildings covering in excess of 152,000 sq ft built footprint. It has its own private road network . The majority of the buildings are of Wimpey no-fines cavity wall construction and housed approx 450 RAF personnel.
Radar technology moved on and on 27th September 1974 Southern Radar Sopley was closed. The existing buildings were substantial and no one envisaged that after only 20 years of productive use that it would become obsolete.
There is no record of any covenants or promises to turn the land back to agriculture despite local rumours of this !
Through the years
In 1977 during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee the site was used by the Household Cavalry for a year as a rest and recreation site.
From 1979 to 1982 the site was used as a resettlement centre for the Vietnamese refugees (boat people) – at this point there were about 650 people living on site. After that the site was used as a training site by various people either using the whole site or individual buildings.
In 1989 the developed part of Sopley Camp was bought by the present owners and the grass playing fields to the rear were purchased by Lord Manners. In 1999 the name officially changed to Merryfield Park (Merryfield being a local name).
Domestic site (http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=50.781195&lon=-1.75085&z=17.1&r=0&src=msa)
Technical site (http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=50.779631&lon=-1.772044&z=18.6&r=0&src=msa)
Some other information on the web - some great photos and diagrams
Information Booklet and history
Starlight, Southern Radar and RAF Sopley
RAF Sopley is pretty much gone, as in military buildings. The radar foundations are gone :(
Apparently the guardhouse remains, as does the old bunker. (Currently used by a civvy company for document storage)
The main mess building still stands, with a rather battered Lancaster Bomber mural on the end wall. The site is host to airsoft events every month, so pesky kids think its fun to shoot at the plane. Grr...
It's currently undergoing a renovation into a small gym/circuit training area, but the structure of the building isn't being altered.
Also I managed to finally find a good quality colour image of the RAF Sopley crest. This has pleased me immensely as I previously only had a single hard copy B/W image that was rubbish quality, and has personal significance, having lived in the village of Sopley for 22 years :D
Sopley in 1955:
No.227 Signals Unit, Fighter Command
R3 Underground Ops Block, permanent concrete
PB Transmitter and Receiver Stations at Dur Hill Down and Holmesley respectively
Equipment stores, guardroom with armoury and SAA store in permanent concrete buildings
MT Section, concrete garage with 9 bays and 3 repair bays.
AMWD garage for 2 vehicles.
Admin: SHQ, office accommodation and lecture rooms in permanent concrete buildings.
Post office, fire section and central heating buildings.
Single - 24 off + 8 SNCO + 115 airmen + WRAF- 8 off + 5 SNCO + 229 airwomen
Married - 8 off + 32 airmen
Messing - 30 off + 30 SNCO + 350 airmen /women in single sitting
Catering capacity - 40 + 36 + 470
SSQ - 12 beds
Cinema, NAAFI, 8 acres playing fields.
One 1,000 gal underground MTGAS tank
Two 5,000 gal surface Diesel tanks
Mains water + three 3,000 gal static tanks
Mains elec + 520 kW standby
Sewage - RAF works to percolating filters
Street lighting and PA.
Services: One 12,000 surface furnace oil tank + one more Diesel tank of 1,000 gal.
Domestic and Operations sites are 1.5 miles apart. Operations areas are enclosed by chain link fence.
Single - 12 off + 8 SNCO + 250 airmen + WRAF- 8 off + 4 SNCO + 80 airwomen (big change in male / female ratio)
Married - 13 off + 5 SNCO + 32 airmen
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