RAF Sopley, Southern Radar

After the war, in 1954, a major re-engineering of the site occurred when it became known formally as Royal Air Force Sopley, the home of Southern Radar and the Joint Air Traffic Control School. The radar station was housed in a deep underground bunker under a field adjacent to the war time radar station, whilst quarters were built in Bransgore for its married personnel and a large domestic site was constructed between Bransgore and Sopley next to the site of Merryfield farm. During the 1960s and 1970s civil and military air traffic control officers worked and trained together at the site which also retained an air defence and special tasks role including that of supporting Research and Development flying programmes from Farnborough and Boscombe Down and the early Concorde flight trials. With the full opening of the London Air Traffic Control Centre, Southern radar was one of several Air Traffic Control units that were surplus to requirements and Royal Air Force Sopley closed in 1974. Available on this site is the text and graphics from the RAF Sopley Visitors Guide from (I think) 1964.

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inverted picture of the radar display at R.A.F. Sopley as used by the Joint Air Traffic Control Radar Unit, Southern Radar.


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Main Gate RAF Sopley

Type 80 Radar.

In addition to the Type 80 the station retained its type 7 and had both type 13 heightfinders and type 14 high and low radars. It also received a Marconi 264 radar, later used at Aberdeen Airport. The 264 was only finally retired from service at Aberdeen in 1998.

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The last inspection by the AOC MATO, Air Commodore Pope.

Plotting at Southern Radar 1972-73. On the left is Brian Jones from whom most of these photos originated and to the right the unit C.O., Wing Commander Wood.

Sopley Type 80 with a modified aerial (see difference with picture above) immediately after closure photo: John Faulkner

New Photos received May 2006



Sopley Type 80 Picture

picture from Mike Molyneaux


Mike Molyneaux was an RAF Controller at Sopley who did the Sopley Joint Course in 1967 and was stationed there 1972 to 1974 and left 6 months before the close down. He was the Unit Training Officer, a Supervisor and was involved in the Concorde work.  He was the Unit Fire Officer and he is on the extreme left in the first photo below. 


pictures from Mike Molyneaux
RAF Sopley Cricket Team 1950s

Harfield  Ross  Rogers  Swain  Binfield  Swan

Barraclough  Whinfrey  Ricketts  Thomas  Wilmhust  Stapely

Venerable RAF MAC truck ex Ventnor radar site