Signals Experimental Establishment
The Signals Experimental Establishment (SEE)
1903 A detachment of Royal Engineers began experimental radio work
WWI This group of engineers moved into Woolwich Arsenal after the outbreak of war
1916 They moved to a site on Woolwich Common where the group first became known as SEE. Their remit was Army communications research, including gun sound-ranging and aircraft sound-location.
Postwar: some of the staff moved out to form a group which eventually formed the nucleus of the radio department of the Royal Aircraft Establishment in 1922.
The remaining work continued at SEE and there was some contraction in its activity until the outbreak of the Second World War.
1941 part of SEE went temporarily to Warnham Court in Surrey
1943 The whole establishment (by then renamed Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE)) was moved to Christchurch in 1943, with an outstation (Broomy Lodge) in the New Forest.
The first Civilian Chief Superintendent was J. D. Cockcroft. Work concentrated on developing new signal techniques and increasing the mobility of the Army Signals organisation. SRDE absorbed several small specialist units, one of which was of Polish origin and brought in expertise on mine detection methods.
Developed a more secure field telephone, which was used during the invasion of Europe. S.R.D.E. also produced, in Christchurch, a method of laying field cables from the air.
Postwar: The establishment was split - development and engineering was located at Somerford, Christchurch; research was at Steamer Point on the coast near Mudeford. The Somerford site had first been used by the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE), set up in 1939 and itself an amalgamation of earlier establishments.
Mid to late 70s: SDRE was relocated to Royal Signals and Radar Establishment at Malvern
Sources of Information
- History of Somerford 
- National Archives