Signals Research and Development Establishment

Coordinates: 50°44′24″N 1°44′10″W / 50.740°N 1.736°W / 50.740; -1.736
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The Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE) was a British government military research establishment, based in Christchurch, Dorset from 1943 until it merged with the Royal Radar Establishment (RRE) in Malvern, Worcestershire to form the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in 1976. Its focus was military communications (signals).


The establishment had its origins in the Royal Engineers Wireless Telegraphy Experimental Section founded at Aldershot in the very early part of the twentieth century. It moved to Woolwich, initially into the former Royal Dockyard (at that time a military stores depot) where it formed part of the Inspectorate of Royal Engineers Stores, before moving on to Woolwich Common.[1][2]

In 1914 it was operating out of a van at Woolwich, but in 1916 it settled into its own premises, becoming the Signals Experimental Establishment.[3] The establishment was renamed SRDE at the start of the Second World War; it moved briefly to Horsham before settling in Christchurch in 1943 after the radar teams left to Malvern. The Woolwich buildings then became part of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.[3][2]

In the 1960s and 1970s SRDE was involved in the development of military communications satellites. It participated in the U.S. Interim Defense Communication Satellite Program (IDCSP), and a trans-Atlantic link to a U.S. station was first established on 18 June 1966.[4] It also led the development of the British Skynet 1 and 2 military communications satellites, the first of which launched 22 November 1969, and performed their initial in-orbit testing.[5][6] Skynet 1A was the first military satellite in geostationary orbit.[4]

In 1976, under the Director of John Mills, SRDE merged with the Royal Radar Establishment (RRE) and the Services Electronic Research Laboratory (SERL) to form the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE), headquartered in Malvern, Worcestershire. SRDE remained in Christchurch until 1980, when it moved to a RSRE facility at RAF Defford near Malvern.[5]

Topics of research[edit]


  1. ^ "History". SRDE. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Records of the Signals Experimental Establishment and Signals Research and Development Establishment". National Archives. AVIA 23, 61 and 74. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Saint and Guillery (2012). Survey of London volume 48. Yale.
  4. ^ a b E H Thomas (March 1978). The RSRE Satellite Communications Test Facility (PDF) (Report). Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. RSRE Report 78008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 June 2022. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  5. ^ a b Harris, Dick (July 2018). "Defford Satellite Communications". Malvern Radar and Technology History Society. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  6. ^ Burr, Ron (February 2012). "Chapter 14.2 - Satellite Communications". The Decca Legacy - a View From Inside the Radar Company Decca - BAe Systems 1949-2009. Retrieved 21 January 2021. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)

External links[edit]

50°44′24″N 1°44′10″W / 50.740°N 1.736°W / 50.740; -1.736