Records relating to Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt

Scope and Content

Records concerning the centenary of the birth of Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt (1892-1973), including photographs, articles, typescript of lecture, and video of tribute The Watson-Watt Centenary: a Tribute by Professor R. Hanbury Brown to Sir Robert Watson-Watt, The Father of Radar, 1912-1993.

Administrative / Biographical History

Professor Robert Hanbury Brown was born in 1916 and attended Tonbridge school. He took a BSc from London University in 1935 and was immediately asked to work with Sir Robert Watson-Watt (1892-1973) on radar development. From 1936 to 1942 he was based at the Air Ministry research station at Bawdsey and was then seconded to a US naval research laboratory in Washington. Working under great secrecy, he made an important contribution to the development of the US airborne radar programme. After the war he worked as an engineering consultant in partnership with Watson-Watt before taking up a research fellowship at Manchester University in 1949. Here he worked with Sir Bernard Lovell on the Jodrell Bank radio telescope and his pioneering design of an intensity interferometer contributed directly to its success. Hanbury Brown was appointed professor of radio astronomy in 1960 but in 1963 left Manchester to take up the chair of astronomy in Sydney. In Australia his work with radio telescopes enabled him to compile an unequalled catalogue of measurements of the southern sky. Hanbury Brown returned to England in his mid-70s to settle in Hampshire and to write his autobiography Boffin: A Personal Story of the Early Days of Radar, Radio Astronomy and Quantum Optics (1991). A highly respected scientist, an outstanding and original thinker, and something of a dreamer, Hanbury Brown died in 2002 aged 85.

Access Information

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.


Compiled by Jenny Cutts, Scottish Archive Network project and modified by Caroline Brown, Dundee University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list available at Dundee University Archives. Subject source lists and databases are also available.

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Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges are made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply.