Skewjack became well known in the Second World War when an Royal Air Force station known as RAF Sennen was set up in 1942 between Skewjack Farm and nearby Trebehor Farm, about half-a-mile (1 km) to the south east.
The RAF base was actually about 1 mile (1.5 km) from Sennen village or about 2 miles (3 km) from Sennen Cove and at a good location for radio line-of-sight (LOS) towards the Atlantic Ocean. Several masts were erected, some over 300 feet (100 m) high, in nearby fields to support radar antennas as part of an early warning radar station. Code-named "Chain Home Low", the equipment was very advanced for the early days of radar, being able to detect ships and approaching low flying aircraft up to about 20 miles (30 km) into the Western Approaches off Land's End.
RAF Sennen's living quarters were near Skewjack Farm, comprising a small 'village' of huts and a few dozen resident RAF personnel. Some of the operational equipment was installed in buried and camouflaged bunkers closer to Trebehor Farm. The site later operated GEE (navigation) equipment. Sennen is listed as a location for an Oboe (navigation) base, and the RAF base can be assumed to be where it was sited.
The site remained an RAF base until the 1970s. In 1978 one of the former RAF buildings on the east side of the site was refurbished to accommodate the relocated Land's End Radio maritime coastal radio station from St Just, about 5 miles (8 km) to the north, on account of the site being less susceptible to radio interference. The site was then owned by Post Office Telecommunications, a predecessor of British Telecom. Land's End Radio gradually became redundant, the maritime traffic having been transferred to mobile telephone networks and satellite, and it closed in June 2000. The site is now the British cable terminal for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG).
Also in the 1970s, part of the west side of the site was converted to self-catering accommodation for sea-surfing enthusiasts, known as the Skewjack Surf Village. It would have been quite a long walk along the lanes carrying surfboards to the nearest surf at Sennen Cove. The surf village closed in 1986 and was demolished in 2000. A new submarine cable terminating station building was constructed by E. Thomas (Mowlem) Ltd. on behalf of the new site owner, the telecommunications operator FLAG Atlantic, on the surf village site. The building received an architectural award from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2003.
Notes and references
- "The Book of St. Levan - Crabs, Crousts and Clerks"; St. Levan Local History Group (2004); Halsgrove, Lower Moor Way, Tiverton, Devon EX16 6SS. ISBN 1-84114-328-6
-  Image (bottom of page) of the Skewjack cable terminating station.
- The former Skewjack Surf Village