Royal Radar Establishment

"RRE" redirects here. RRE may also refer to HIV Rev response element or Railroad Earth.

The name Royal Radar Establishment was given to the existing Radar Research Establishment following a visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957. Both names were abbreviated to RRE. The establishment had been formed, under its first name, in 1953 by merging the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) and the Radar Research and Development Establishment (RRDE). These had worked on airborne and ground based radar, respectively.[1][2] RRE was located in Malvern, Worcestershire, where both TRE and RRDE had been housed at different sites. The earlier research and development work of TRE and RRDE on radar, solid state physics, electronics, and computer hardware and software was continued in the merged establishment, and the overall scope was extended to include cryogenics and other topics. Infrared detection for guided missiles and heat sensing devices was a major defence application.

Administrative history

The earlier radar research organization B.R.S. (Bawdsey Research Station) was on the east coast of England, about 10 miles north east of Felixstowe. It moved to Dundee in Scotland, at the outbreak of World War II, and changed its name to Air Ministry Research Establishment (A.M.R.E.). In May 1940, the organization moved to Worth Matravers, near Swanage in Dorset, on the south coast of England. The organization was renamed again, as Air Ministry Telecommunications Research Establishment. In May 1942, TRE moved to Malvern. The Radar Research and Development Establishment (RRDE) had split off earlier, and was moved to Malvern at about the same time. TRE and the history of radar are discussed in separate articles.

TRE was part of the Ministry of Supply and, when it was formed, so was RRE. In 1959, control passed to the Ministry of Aviation. When this was abolished in 1967, control passed to the Ministry of Technology, then to the Ministry of Aviation Supply, in 1970, and to the Ministry of Defence in 1971. In 1976 RRE merged with the Signals Research and Development Establishment to form the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE), which became part of the Defence Research Agency (DRA) in 1991. Later (1995), DRA was absorbed into DERA, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. DERA split on 2 June 2001 into two parts, a government body called Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) and a company destined for privatisation, which became QinetiQ.

The technical departments of RRE were grouped, initially, into six Divisions: airborne radar, ground radar, guided weapons, basic techniques, physics, and engineering. The organization and personnel are described further, in a collection of linked web sites.[3]

W. J. Richards, CBE, was Director of TRE at the time of the merger and continued as Director of RRE. W.H. Penley, Head of Guided Missiles, took over for a year in 1961. Then George Macfarlane (after postings outside RRE) became Director in 1962.[1]

The Physics Division – some of the staff and their work

At the time of the name change to Radar Research Establishment in 1953, the senior staff included:

Other members of the Physics Division who made significant contributions to several fields of endeavour include:

In 1956, R.A. Smith presented a comprehensive account of the contributions of RRE to physics to the Royal Society.[2]

Radar, Guided weapons and Engineering Divisions

Gloster Meteor NF.11 fitted with modified radar nose during trials work when allocated to the RRE during 1976.

Although less conspicuous among academic scientists, these divisions were major players in the defence community, both in policy decision making and as an interface with industry. Development and production contracts brought staff of several companies on site, and extramural contracts strengthened ties with industry still further. "in radar alone: Plessey and Decca for aerials and waveguides, Plessey, Hilger & Watts,[43] Clarke Chapman and Curran for millimetre-wave radar, and Mullard for precision bombing and radar reconnaissance".[1] On returning to RRE as Director in 1962, George Macfarlane reorganized the technical departments into: Military and Civil Systems (comprising Ground Radar and Air Traffic Control, Guided Weapons and Airborne Radar groups), Physics and Electronics (comprising Physics and Electronic Groups) and Engineering. "Despite the policy shift away from fighters ... to guided weapons for UK air defence, ... RRE continued to argue for strike aircraft and kept up the necessary radar research programs."[1]

Senior staff, of the divisions at various times included

More than 50 books were written by members of the establishment under its successive names. Details are included in the list of references below, and in the TRE article. Many more were in series that members of the staff edited.

In 1968, the Minister of Supply assured a member of parliament that the results of research at RRE on infra-red detectors would be made available to British industry.[45]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Bud, Robert; Gummett, Philip (2002). Cold War, Hot Science: Applied Research in Britain's Defence Laboratories, 1945–1990. London: Science Museum. p. 249. ISBN 978-1-900747-47-9.
  2. 1 2 3 Smith, R. A. (10 April 1956). "Physics at the Radar Research Establishment, Malvern". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences. 235 (1200): 1–10.
  3. "The Penley Archives".
  4. 1 2 3 4 Smith, S. D. (1982). "Robert Allan Smith". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 28: 479–504.
  5. Smith, R. A. (1947). Radio aids to navigation. Cambridge University Press.
  6. Smith, R. A. (1949). Aerials for metre and decimetre wavelengths. Cambridge University Press.
  7. Smith, R. A. (1952). The physical principles of thermodynamics; a treatise for students of theoretical and experimental physics. London: Chapman & Hall.
  8. 1 2 Smith, R. A.; Jones, F. E. & Chasmar, R. P. (1968). The detection and measurement of infra-red radiation. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  9. Smith, R. A. (1978). Semiconductors. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  10. Smith, R. A. (1961). Wave mechanics of crystalline solids. London: Chapman & Hall.
  11. Smith, R. A., ed. (1976). Very high resolution spectroscopy. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-651650-2.
  12. "Sir George Macfarlane: Talented technologist who made invaluable contributions in wartime and as a postwar public servant". The Times. (subscription required (help)).
  13. Penley, W. H. (30 July 2007). "Obituary: Sir George Macfarlane". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  14. Loudon, R.; Paige, E. G. S. "Alan Frank Gibson. 30 May 1923–27 March 1988". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 37 (November 1991): 221–244.
  15. Key, M. (7 February 2006). Adventures in laser produced plasma research (PDF). Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  16. Raynes, E. P. "Paige, Edward George Sydney (Ted) (1930–2004)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  17. Sondheimer, Ernst (1977). "Professor Leo Pincherle (obituary)". Nature. 266 (5998): 202.
  18. 1 2 Bell, D. G.; Hum, D. M.; Pincherle, L.; Sciama, D. W.; Woodward, P. M. (1953). "The electronic band structure of PbS". Proceedings of the Royal Society A217 (1128): 71–91.
  19. Pincherle, L. (1971). Electronic energy bands in solids. London: Macdonald.
  20. Pincherle, L. (1966). Worked problems in heat, thermodynamics, and kinetic theory for physics students. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
  21. Smith, Derek J. (2002). "Short Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence" (PDF). pp. 79 & 104.
  22. Moore, Kevin. "The History of Flight-Sim".
  23. Rolfe, J. M.; Staples, K. J. (1986). Flight Simulation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-35751-9.
  24. 1 2 Clark, David J. (2002). "Enclosing the Field from 'Mechanisation of Thought Processes' to 'Autonomics'". University of Warwick. pp. 103–110.
  25. Uttley, A. M. (1977). "Methods of simulating the behaviour of granule cells in hippocampus based on informon theory". Journal of Theoretical Biology. 69 (3): 391–399.
  26. Woodward, Philip (1953). Probability and Information Theory, with Applications to Radar. London: Pergamon Press. ISBN 978-0-89006-103-9.
  27. "Retired scientist given award". Malvern Gazette. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  28. Woodward, P. M. (1970). Official Definition of CORAL 66. HMSO. pp. vii+58. ISBN 0-11-470221-7.
  29. Barnett, M. P., The evaluation of molecular integrals by the zeta-function method, in Methods in computational physics, vol. 2, Quantum Mechanics, ed. B. Alder, S. Fernbach and M. Rotenberg, 95–153, Academic Press, New York, 1963.
  30. Barnett, Michael P. (1965). Computer typesetting, experiments and prospects. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  31. Manzer, D.F., & Barnett, M. P., Analysis by Simulation: Programming techniques for a High-Speed Digital Computer, in Arthur Maas et al, Design of Water Resource Systems, pp. 324–390, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1962.
  32. Barnett, M. P.; Barnett, S. J. (1986). "Animated algorithms - a self-teaching course in data structures and fundamental algorithms". New York: McGraw-Hill.
  33. Butcher, P. N.; March, N. H.; Tosi, M. P., eds. (1986). Crystalline semiconducting materials and devices. New York: Plenum Press. ISBN 0-306-42154-2.
  34. Butcher, P. N.; Cotter, D. (1990). The elements of nonlinear optics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-34183-3.
  35. Butcher, P. N.; March, N. H.; Tosi, M. P., eds. (1993). Physics of low-dimensional semiconductor structures. New York: Plenum Press. ISBN 0-306-44170-5.
  36. Butcher, P. N.; Yu, Lu, eds. (1992). Superconductivity : from basic physics to the latest developments. Trieste, Italy: International Centre for Theoretical Physics. ISBN 981-02-2456-7.
  37. "Geoffrey Chester". Cornell University Department of Physics. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
  38. 1 2 3 "Prizes awarded by the Optoelectronics Fund". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
  39. Born, Max (1989). Blin-Stoyle, Roger John; Radcliffe, J. M., eds. Atomic Physics (8th revised ed.). New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-48665-984-8.
  40. Sciama, D. W. (1971). Modern cosmology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  41. Sciama, D. W. (1993). Modern cosmology and the dark matter problem. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  42. Gray, George W. (January 1998). "Reminiscences from a life with liquid crystals". Liquid Crystals. Taylor & Francis. 24 (1). doi:10.1080/026782998207523. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  43. "Amalgamation of Instrument Makers : Hilger and Watts, Ltd". Nature (161): 345. 1948.
  44. "Dr. W.H. (Bill) Penley". Penley Radar Archives.
  45. Gerald Fowler, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Technology (4 March 1968). "Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 9W–11W.

External links

Coordinates: 52°06′00″N 2°18′58″W / 52.100°N 2.316°W / 52.100; -2.316

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