Discovering Dumfries and Galloway's wartime secrets

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The North Cairn Radar Station is a site that was vital to the defence of the UK during the Second World War.

It once guarded the coast against German attack.

North Cairn Radar Station was concerned by the very real threat posed by German bombers.

A new path is set to be launched next year which will allow people to explore the Rhins of Galloway. As part of the path scheme an extensive archaeology and history project has taken place.

The site once protected the shores of the UK. Credit: ITV

Ian Baldie, a local historian, said: “The mobile radar unit arrived here in July 1940. That was just before the Battle of Britain was about to start down in the south east of England.

"Other buildings here started to be constructed at the same time. It was fully operational right through until the end of the war itself. It provided early warning initially to Belfast and the north channel and also the Clyde.

“Radar had only been really discovered and developed in 1935. Unlike the normal radar that we see on ships which rotate and project a beam this was stationary masts that projected an electromagnetic wave into the atmosphere and out to about 90 miles plus.

“There would have been at least 120 staff working on the site. It provided defence training for radar technicians on the site here as well. There were upwards of 200 people on this site at any one time."

It all had to be built in complete secrecy.

Ian added: "The staff that worked and operated on this site here were sworn to top secrecy and their families and friends weren’t told.

"An example of that would be in the receiver bunker the diagrams and technical drawings and information about the radar was kept in a safe. If the site had been attacked by Germans for any reason there was an acid bath kept next door to the safe so that they could actually go into the safe take the plans out and put them in the acid bath."

The re-examine of the north cairn site is part of the new path project.

Ian said: “In the UK there are very few of these left. There were over 60 chain-home radar stations like this throughout the coast of the UK but there are very few of them left.

"This is one of the few and it gives a real insight into the lives of the staff that worked here and the important job that radar performed in the Second World War. It provided early warning to our cities."

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