Painting commemorating birth of radar goes on display

Daventry District Council Leader Cllr Chris Millar and Chairman of the Council Cllr Catherine Lomax admire the limited edition print at the Birth of Radar memorial near Upper Stowe.
Daventry District Council Leader Cllr Chris Millar and Chairman of the Council Cllr Catherine Lomax admire the limited edition print at the Birth of Radar memorial near Upper Stowe.
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A limited edition print of a painting depicting the birth of radar has gone on display to mark the 80th anniversary of the historic breakthrough.

Robert Watson-Watt successfully demonstrated his invention for the first time on February 26, 1935, using receiving equipment set up at Weedon and the signals transmitted from the BBC station on Borough Hill.

His instruments were able to detect an RAF Heyford bomber flying at 6,000 feet – proving to the Air Ministry the effectiveness of what would later become known as radar.

The moment was captured by aviation artist Roy Huxley in his painting ‘The First Step’, which was specially commissioned in 1985 to mark the 50th anniversar.

It depicts Watson-Watt and his assistant, Arnold Wilkins with the receiving equipment at Weedon while the aircraft makes a low pass overhead. Borough Hill can be seen in the distance.

A limited-edition print of the work was recently gifted to the Council by Mr Huxley. It is now on display in the reception area at the civic offices in Lodge Road to celebrate the 80th anniversary of one of the most important technological breakthroughs of the last century.

By the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 there were 20 radar stations along the east and south coast of England, providing early warning of the approach of German aircraft and helping the RAF defeat the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

Variations on the technology remain in use today, in air traffic control systems, geological mapping instruments and police speed guns among other applications.

The spot where Watson-Watt and his team carried out their so-called ‘Daventry Experiment’ is remembered by the Birth of Radar memorial stone near Upper Stowe.

Councillor Chris Millar, Leader of Daventry District Council, said: “The role that Daventry District played in the development of radar is something we should celebrate and commemorate as an important part of our heritage

“We are thrilled to have received this wonderful limited edition print depicting the birth of radar and we’re very pleased in this 80th anniversary year to be able to share it with the wider public by putting it on display in the reception area of our Lodge Road offices.”