RAF Drytree building identification project

Elizabeth Masterton has been working with researcher Benjamin Oldcorn to unravel the mysteries of some of the derelict buildings on the RAF Drytree site. The RAF Dry Tree/Goonhilly NNR Building Identification Project report was commissioned by Natural England to form the basis of new interpretative material for visitors to the site. The report includes the buildings earmarked for inclusion on a new walking route around the site, and doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a good start. Please do get in touch if you have any information regarding RAF Drytree or identifications for any of the buildings we’ve missed.

Photos by Benjamin Oldcorn.


  1. Matt Tonkins

    Great site. I was just wondering if, during your investigation, you found anything about the WW2 installations just a few miles East along the road just past Zoar Garage in the woods. Are these installations part of RAF Drytree? There are additional ones to the West in the woods next to Telstar Garage (now a coffee shop) which appear to be more of U/G shelters.
    the installations near Zoar Garage are on both sides of the road. The main group of buildings are fairly tall structures that appear to have houses large structures. I am assuming these were the bases or the main electrical workings for the Chain low system? if so, why was it so far away from RAF Drytree.

    Any information will be welcome,

    kind regards,

    Matt Tonkins

  2. I was a National Serviceman at Treleaver in 1957/8 prior to its closure in early 59; This radar unit was further along the road again,near the Coverack/St Keverne junction
    . At that time the unit closer to Zoar garage was Trelanvean and which had closed prior to 57, Domestic site on one side of the road tech site on the other. It was a CH station and I believe it worked with Drytree to give a long range triangular bearing which was reported to Portreath who then fired up the GCI station at Treleaver to enable Portreath fighters to home in on the contacts.
    During my time at Treleaver we had a small team working at Drytree removing gear fromthat unit, this being several years before the Goonhilly Earth Station was built on the edge of the old Drytree tech site.

  3. happidrome

    Many thanks for your comment. Fascinating to hear from someone who worked on the sites. The Trelanvean site has recently been cleared of vegetation and many of the original CH buildings on the tech site, which mirror those at Drytree, have been revealed. The post war ROTOR bunker at Treleaver (site of the actual ‘Happidrome’ GCI building) is now the home of the Lizard Brewery!

  4. My first posting after training at RAF Locking (No.1 Radio School) as a Ground Wireless Mech was early 1955 for RAF Trealeaver. On arrival at Helston Railway Station I was informed that Treleaver was not open yet and that I would be transported to RAF Drytree at that time on ‘Care and Maintenance’. In due course I had the first experience of being picked by an RAF Driver Mech in a 15cwt Bedford Truck that rattled a drafty way to where the now new Earth Station is (in construction early 1960). Drytree was then a ‘Domestic Site’ for the CH Radar at Trelanvean serviced by a half dozen of ground radar mechanics under a signals Flight Sgt. This Station was at about 30 strength mainly Cpl. RAF dog handlers, cooks and admin.! This was under a SWO Sgt. as the Pilot Officer O/C was away on ‘a course’!. I was the ‘odd ball’ being what was termed ‘Wireless’ in those days and no one seemed to know about the function of Treleaver that was programmed to open in about 6 months. The commanding officer for this ‘Signals Unit’ was based at the Radar Station at Newquay and we drew our stores from RAF St Mawgan, a regularly weekly visit with our 3 ton Bedford truck. Later RAF Treleaver was another phase of my service as a Ground Wireless Fitter.

    Peter D Beattie

  5. happidrome

    Many thanks to you for this comment. Its always fascinating to hear first-hand stories about the sites; hard to imagine them as operational once in ruins. Hopefully we might be able to compile some of these accounts in the future to tell the story of radar on the Lizard.

  6. that first photo you have put question marks by shows bases for small pot bellied stoves for keeping warm/brewing up in.

    these buildings would have been some sort of crew room, perhaps guardhouse

  7. Masterton

    Many thanks for your contribution. Good to fill in another piece of the puzzle.

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