JATCRU Ulster Radar, RAF Bishops Court

John Freeman sent in an excellent link  about the RAF Bishops Court/Ulster Radar site and its history.

Ulster’s old Type 7 radar dated apparently 1971. Presumably it was the standby system to back up the Type 80, visible (I think) in UR1a below.  Behind the Type 7 is the Type 84 radar, visible as a white oval on a squat tower.

Ulster Radar 1971

recently found is this photograph of the Ulster Radar civil consoles edge lit board, dated 31st August 1960. This was the dynamic traffic display for the controllers, maintained for them by assistants. Traffic includes Clipper 100 and Sabena 508 westbound from Litchfield to 57N 30W and Sabena 509 eastbound through Skipness, Prestwick and Dean Cross.

ulster radar edge lit board

my thanks to Ray Draper for these pictures taken from a local newspaper in 1970

ulster radar (1).JPG

UR1 RAF Controllers

ulster radar (2).JPG

UR1a Ulster Radar CO W/C AF Davison, Ivor Ray civil SATCO and his military equivalent S/Ldr R Farley

ulster radar (3)

UR2 Military Allocator and Assistant

ulster radar (4)

UR3 Civil sector with ATCA Noel Farrelly, standing, making up the edge lit board

and now a wonderful set of official photographs from John Douglas of the closure of Ulster Radar

UR4

UR5

ulster closure (10)

UR6ulster closure (11)

UR7

Bob Connelly runs a web site about Ulster Radar

Ulster Radar web site

thanks to Phil Hayes for the following cutting

ulster closure article

UR8

The following three photos are provided by Dennis Crabb through Bob Connelly

DSCF6048_Snapseed

UR9

DSCF6049_Snapseed

UR10

DSCF6050_Snapseed

UR11 think these are Bill Eames, John Douglas and definitely Ivor Ray.

Dennis also provided material on an article published in the old IPMS ATCOs Branch magazine “On Watch” about Ulster Radar that you can down load via the link below.

Ulster radar

bishops-court

UR12 via Barry Davidson

UR13 Mark also sent in the above and says “the attached was “awarded” to my late father at Ulster Radar in the mid/late-1960s.  As ATCOs we are indeed prone to such bouts of humour within the brethren!  The signature bottom left could well be Bill McNamara’s and bottom centre is Dave Hitchcock’s.

22 thoughts on “JATCRU Ulster Radar, RAF Bishops Court”

  1. Nice to see some old, familiar (and sadly, dearly departed) faces in the pictures above – Ivor Ray and Bill McM to cite a few. My late father, Alan Vogt (No 2 Course), was an ATCO here from 65-73 (and then again for a spell in 77/78, prior to the closure). I have very fond memories of BC, and still have a lot of family in that area.
    Ivor’s son has returned to Ardglass and lives overlooking the 18th fairway. My mother lives overlooking the 18th green; always nice to get back there and have round of golf and a pint at the Old Commercial – which is owned by my uncle…

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    1. Greetings Mark; I worked with your father during 18 months at Killard 1969-70. It was a very friendly unit and I enjoyed my time there, before leaving to start No. 21 Cadet course. My ATCA pay in NI eventually allowed me to purchase an old Simca saloon from a RAF sgt, and Alan bought my red Raleigh moped – to get to work I presume. It’s great to see the photos that have emerged on various sites and I’ve wandered around the camp, courtesy of Google street view. I do remember George Brown as my watch Sup when I eventually landed at ScATCC in 1987. Would love to get back there one day. Do you have any info re Imelda (a golfer) or Millie – married a RAF guy IIRC ?

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      1. Hi Ray, many thanks for your memories! I don’t remember the moped, but then I would have only been 2 years old then. I do remember a “frenetic” social life among the team there, though. We left in ’73, but went back every summer for a holiday in Ardglass; there was always something going on that my mum and dad would join in on. I still get back to Ardglass a few times a (normal…) year, as my mother and sister have returned there. If you are planning a trip then have a look at https://www.margarets-cottage.co.uk/ – unashamed plug for my sister’s B&B. I do recall an Imelda; let me ask my mother. I don’t recall a Millie, I’m afraid. Cheers.

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      2. Hi Ray, my mother recalls an Imelda Henfey, who was an ATCA/ATSA at Ulster during the time that my father was there; she believes that Imelda is still alive and well and living in NI (Antrim area, she thinks…). Hope that offers some help. Best regards, Mark

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      3. Indeed – thank you Mark, and to your mother. I recall being on the night shift during the Apollo 11 landing – still managed to see some of it. And I have a hazy memory of some careless RAF Regt guy loosing off a round (one in the breech by mistake) which passed through the building around waist height – on a different night. Thankfully, most folk were horizontal in their camp beds, so no injuries.

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  2. Yes I was in the RAF and yes I worked at JATCRU Northern Radar as. Civilian controller. I was testing out a quiz question to be sure the information was out there!

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    1. Hi Bob – after half a century, you’ll please forgive me for not knowing your name. I guess our paths would not have crossed often, but I do recall being shown the T80 cabin whilst it was turning.
      I was civil Asst there for 18 months, departing around Nov 1970. I lived in the Sgts’ mess, which improved my snooker and alcohol tolerance ! Seem to recall one of the WRAF officers playing draughts with pints during a very noisy evening.
      Do you remember George – steward in Sgts’ mess ? and there was an aged SWO who was always immaculately turned out. He liked a dram or three.
      Best Rgds from the past

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      1. Hi Ray,
        Now you have me confused, do you mean that you were not in the RAF? If not where did you actually work because the person I thought was you was a LAC or SAC, I can’t remember which, and lived in the single quarters like I did? Perhaps after 50 years, my memory is not what it was.
        However, yes, I do believe I remember George because we used to see him knocking a beer back as we went past the Sgt’s Mess windows on our way to breakfast.And I believe the SWO was called Murray, who was the singer Ruby Murray’s brother, so he was nick-named Ruby.
        Apparently, there was a Sqdn Ldr. who had the same name as me, but I was not aware at the time so perhaps he came after me. So if you have the same name as someone else it is quite possible. Anyway, I would really like to clear this up and thank you for replying I hope that I can find more of my RAF friends to catch up it would be good.
        All the best, Bob.

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    2. Hi Terry; I’m enjoying the effort to recover memories of my time at Killard.
      Re your question – IIRC they were physically two locations, but operating under the aegis of RAF Bishops Court. It was a JATCRU. The Type 80 and ops rooms were located on Killard Point with height-finders sited on the old BC airfield a few miles away. I think a more advanced radar was installed on the airfield after my time there. The unit mess sites were in Ballyhornan – I believe they are still in use for holiday lets. The web will show you more detail of the radars.

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    3. Kilard point was the Radar control site. 5 minutes up the road was Bishops Court, The ‘admin site. then 10 minutes onwards was the Transmitter site, and 5 minutes from that was the Receiver site. I was at the Tx/Rx sites 1967-1970

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  3. In UR10 the gent without jacket is Ian (Iggy) Campbell.
    In UR11, we see Ivor Ray standing, next to John Douglas, and Bill Eames closest to camera.
    In UR2, the Allocator is one Master Pilot Paddy Blackwell-Smythe IIRC
    wish I’d known more of his flying background; think he was local and retired up around Newtownards.

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    1. I was an RAF Radar Tech at Ulster Radar from Jan. 1969 to May 1970 and worked at Killard and on the T7 on the airfield.I am interested in some of the contributors to find out if they are the same people that I knew during that time, especially Ray Draper and Trevor North. I am also keen to find out about Kelvin Holmes and Dave Quantrill, contributors to the Dick Barrett Radar Pages website. If you, or any other readers know these people please let me know, my details are below, however, I would like to point out that although I have the same name, I was not Sqdn. Ldr. Robert Farley but a mere J/T. at that time.

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      1. Hi, I was a J/T at both tx and rx sites. I also worked occasionally at Killard point. I serviced the C.A.D/F. site (at the airfield, Great times. There was (if my memory is correct). w/cdr Pope, S/ldr Cardinal and another I just can’t remember. (Ranks may not be right). Funny stationed at “”Bishops Court””. Do You remember the S.W/o. Murray? we called him ‘RUBY’ after the Irish singer Ruby Murray. (Never to his face of course!!!)

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      2. Hi David,
        Forgive me, I do not recall you, but I was also a J/T and also arrived in Jan. 1969 fresh from Locking ( 208th Entry). I worked at Killard Point on the T80 and FPS6’s and in the Radar Office.
        I recognise W/C Pope’s name but, like you can’t remember many others, except F/O or Flt.Lt Brewer, he was our technical officer and used to drive an E-type Jag.
        I also worked on the Type 7 radar on the airfield and had to repair the Cap Switch, which was a Twin Wire Feeder system, many times, because there was no Waveguide associated with the T7. Interesting times.
        I also spent a night at the Receiver site, on top of a hill during the early stages of the troubles, just as a guard. Luckily they sent an RAF Policeman next time. I also had visits by the Handlers and their dogs when they patrolled the airfield.
        Yes, I do remember ‘Ruby’ he was Ruby Murray’s brother, apparently, and used to stand at the end of the servery in the Mess to tell us to get haircuts.
        I left Ulster Radar in May 1970 and went to Bahrain.

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    2. Ray,
      Just a personal enquiry, just wondered if you and I know each other from time spent at Bishops, me Jan 1969 to May 1970? If so please get in touch I would love to catch up.
      Regards, Bob Farley, ( was a J/T at that time on the Tech side.)

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      1. Hi,just a reply to your message July 30 2020, re:Tx Rx sites. I was posted to B Court late ’67 and was one of the lucky “living-out” personnel, I lived with my parents in Belfast and was lucky to have the MT driver (who also lived with his parents close by) so I had transport to and from BC each day…Unreal good times with about a dozen of us ‘living-outers’ Into and through the troubles..Lots of very interesting stories until I left for Gan in ’70. Some really exciting stories related to my posting to BC. could go on for hours …no doubt we crossed paths as I often had to also go to Killard point (via the Cable bar,Ballyhornan)🍺 !

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      2. Hi again,
        Yes, you are probably right, our paths must have crossed at some point.
        Were you at BC when the RAF Regiment came to aid with the security? They were quite a bunch always creeping up on us Techs when carrying out our duties at night.
        I used to go out in Belfast, when I could and went to Romano’s and the R.A.F.A. club also the Talk of the Town. Another good place was the Pound Folk Club, are you familiar with any of those names? Of course things became unsafe later so I stayed in Ardglass, or Strangford, where I met a girl and became engaged but we split up after I returned from Bahrain.
        Yes, many good memories but I cannot remember the names of the guys that I worked with, except one, John Poulson who married a local WRAF, Bernie. Yes, you and I would have a lot to talk about if we ever got the chance.
        Take care,

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