Blue Streak site of yesteryear


General History

Spadeadam's first connection with modern defence came in the late 1950s when it was chosen as the site of the test establishment for the Blue Streak, Britain's intended Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). Until then, the area had no activity at all and was referred to as the Spadeadam Waste. The initial site was built by the Ministry of Aviation, and was managed on their behalf by Rolls-Royce. It is their name that is most often associated with the early years of the Station.

In 1960 the IRBM programme was cancelled but the project was immediately replaced by the European Launcher Development Organisation, (ELDO), in which Britain joined with France and Germany to provide a European alternative to the American and Russian monopoly on satellite launchers.

In 1972 Britain withdrew from ELDO and the consortium withdrew from Spadeadam. At that point the site was handed over to the Proof and Experimental Establishment, (P&EE), for static firing and range activities. In 1976 Spadeadam became an RAF Station and the location for Western Europe's first full scale Electronic Warfare Tactics Range, (EWTR), in January 1977.

The Station Badge was approved by the Queen in 1984 and shows a Roebuck set in front of an escallop. The interpretation of the motto is "If you seek peace, be prepared for war". The Roebuck's head is representative of the Roe deer seen at Spadeadam and the escallop represents the parabolic shape of the radars operating on the unit. This also symbolises the historic links of Gilsland with the Dacre family, in whose coat of arms 3 such shells are displayed.

Butterburn Hill & Greymare site

Test Firing Blue Streak Engine

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