Britain's HF Radio Heritage: RAF Chelveston

RAF Chelveston

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Chelveston skyline: Image Alan Cordwell

This former RAF and USAF station was developed into a radio station during the 1970's. It was part of the UK STCICS (Strike Command Integrated Communications System ) and transmitted RAF Volmet on several frequencies. It probably also carried RAF strike command (callsign Architect) and HF communications to aircraft on exercise.

The microwave tower visible in the picture above linked the station into the MOD network. Following the award of the DHFCS contract to VT Communications, Chelveston was identified as being surplus to requirements and the station closed in 2005. The STCICS function (or TASSCOM as it appears to be called now) passed to St Eval near Newquay in Cornwall.

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Image: Alan Cordwell

I visited Chelveston in 2003, a couple of years before it closed. At the time, the only reference I could find to the location of RAF Volmet put it at RAF Brampton near Northampton, however an inspection of this base shwed no aerials, and no signal.

Some time later a chance conversation with an ex RAF radio colleague resulted in the suggestion that Chelveston might be worth a look. Chelveston, oh Chelveston... as GlennCampbell didn't say. But guess what- he was right. The picture (left) shows my Yupiteru MVT7200 tuned to RAF Volmet and the signal is peaking at S9++; on its rubber helical VHF antenna inside the car. Note that it's 1 kHz off frequency!

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Chelveston Satellite view. Image: Google

The bulk of the antennas at Chelveston appeared to be quarter wave lattice tower verticals but a couple of log periodics atop towers were visible. The transmitter buildings were in the middle of the site.

Access to the site

Since closure the site has been sold for redevelopment as an energy park whatever that is. As it was on higher ground than the surrounding roads and there are many trees, there was virtually no view and I took the picture at the top from one of the only places that anything was visible from.

Google Maps Access

The satellite view is shown below. The mast bases and guy blocks are clearly visible if you zoom in.

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Last Modified 2/5/10