N17 Optical Test Range

Located outside the wire on Crow Drive, building N17 was constructed as an optical test range. Most likely originally constructed entirely from wood, the later edition of a brick front facade and roller shutter door may have come from a change of use. By 1975 the building was under the control of the admin department

Early Computing in Britain

Early Computing in Britain examines the interactions and influences between the important computing innovators on both sides of the Atlantic during the seminal period 1945 to 1949. This unique book presents the story of the pioneering manufacturing company Ferranti Ltd. – producer of the first commercially-available computers – and of the nine end-user organisations who


With any British military organisation, there are acronyms. Lots of them! This page hopes to expand on some of the more technical and obscure. A ADD – Armament Design and Development (Department) founded in 1915 at Woolwich Arsenal ARD – Armament Research Department founded in 1903 at Woolwich Arsenal. Combined with the ARE in 1962

Navvies Constructing the Fort

Constructed as part of the London Defence Scheme, the fort at Knockholt (also known as the Polhill Fort and latterly Fort Halstead) was part of an extensive earthwork defensive system constructed on the North Downs. There were a total of thirteen mobilisation centres (also known as redoubts or forts) constructed in the late 19th Century.

Images from the Fort (1989)

In 1989 a report was published aimed at “drawing together at the current time, information regarding the physical plan, form and history of the ancient monument known as Fort Halstead.” These rare images detail some of the historical features still remaining in the old mobilisation centre almost 100 years after its construction. At the time,

Dr WG Penney Commemorative Plaque

“In this building a group of scientists & engineers led by the then Dr WG PENNEY worked on United Kingdom atomic warheads during the period 1946 to 1952. This plaque was unveiled on 6 APRIL 2982 by LORD PENNEY OM. KBE. MA. PhD. D Sc. FRS.”

The Origins of Fort Halstead

This history forms part of a larger RARDE history written by the late Peter Baigent around 1991. Peter had a long and distinguished career in weapons design at Fort Halstead. We are very grateful to his family for giving permission to publish Peter’s research. Fort Halstead originates from a scheme drawn up in 1888 by