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Bawdsey Radar - photo credit: Freeland Rees Roberts
Bawdsey Radar - photo credit: Freeland Rees Roberts

Civic Awards 2019

6 March 2019

On Friday 1st March the Civic Trust Awards were announced in Manchester at the Imperial War Museum North. Now in its 60th year, the Awards are Europe’s longest running architectural and built environment awards programme and one of the UK’s most important and prestigious. We are therefore extremely pleased to note that two AHF funded projects featured as winners of the Civic Trust AABC Commendation, an award given to projects which demonstrate the highest standards of historic building conservation and make a significant contribution to the quality and appearance of the built environment. Well done to Bawdsey Radar Trust and their architect Freeland Rees Roberts and The Kirkmichael Trust and their architect McGregor Bowes!


Built in 1937, the Radar Station at Bawdsey Manor was the world’s first operational radar station. The Transmitter and Receiver Blocks were the prototypes for the Chain Home Defence System which was developed just before the Second World War and is credited with helping the Royal Air Force win the Battle of Britain. Bawdsey remained in control of the Ministry of Defence until 1992, after which it was boarded up. In 2003 the Bawdsey Radar Group opened the site to the public for one weekend. This sparked tremendous local interest and began the road to the Transmitter’s regeneration, as featured in 2004 on BBC2’s television series ‘Restoration’. The Bawdsey Radar Group has been instrumental in raising awareness and securing funding for the development of this site. The project has been run entirely by volunteers, demonstrating the significance of Bawdsey Radar to the local community.

AHF grants enabled the Trust to assess the projects viability and employ an architect to produce design and engineering specifications. An AHF loan was provided to help with the project’s cash flow in between payments from major grant funders. Over £1.8m in funding was secured, including from Historic England and a major grant of over £1.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This has enabled the Trust to transform the Transmitter into a visitor attraction providing exhibition space and educational resources with RADAR at its centre.


The Kirkmichael project was initiated by community concern over the steady deterioration in the church at Kirkmichael. The earliest records of the Kirkmichael parish date to the early 1400s and the chancel of the church was converted to a mausoleum in 1560. In 2002 The Kirkmichael Trust formed to restore and maintain the building and associated mausolea and came to the AHF for support of their project.

Funding from the AHF included a Project Development Grant of £14,289 in 2014. This enabled the Trust to compile a project plan and develop successful major funding bids. An AHF loan offer was administered in 2015 to cover the projects working capital requirements, allowing work to continue in between payments from major funders. The project architect was McGregor Bowes and the restoration was completed in the Spring of 2017. Today the Kirk is open to the public where there is a unique display of medieval ornamental crosses. In 2018 it won an award at the Scottish Heritage Angel Awards for Best Heritage Research, Interpretation or Recording.

Editors Notes

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. We are the leading heritage social investor and the only specialist heritage lender operating in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans.

For press enquiries please contact Oliver Brodrick-Ward, on 020 79250199 /

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