Admiralty Research Laboratory - Monuments & Remains

Monuments in Bushy Park

As a consequence of Bushy Park’s Assistant Manager William (Bill) Swan’s interest in science and technology, undoubtedly instilled by his father who worked at NPL, crucial and invariably ground-breaking scientific work of the Admiralty Research Laboratory (ARL), based at Teddington, would have passed unrecognised into history.

Through remarkable good fortune and thanks to Bill there are now two, recently expanded, ARL monuments using items rescued during the demolition of ARL’s facilities, located inside Bushy Park.

One monument situated within what was ARL’s Upper Lodge (secure) site is now accessible to the public. This monument features two information plaques and a large gearwheel, part of the mechanism that drove a purpose-built, hydrodynamics research tool – the Rotating Beam Channel (RBC) with its 122ft beam and 15ft deep by 34ft wide annular water channel. The RBC was housed within its own purpose-built building; the 156ft diameter domed-roof was larger than that of St Paul’s Cathedral.

ARL Monument at Upper Lodge (Photo: Nigel Godsell ex-ARL Group L - 2017)

The tall brick wall in the above photo was within the ARL Upper Lodge (secure) site and separated the Lodge grounds from the King's Canadian Hospital buildings. The hospital wards of wooden construction were occupied by the majority of ARL's Noise Ranging Group from the mid-1950s onwards. Around 1969 the wooden buildings were demolished and replaced by a new office and laboratory block. The area where the buildings stood has now been returned to publicly accessible parkland with the wall bordering the redevelopment of the old Lodge and RBC building. It is thought that building 417 (portion visible in above photo) was at one time the school 'Tuck Shop'.

The Stockyard off the Hampton Court Road is the location of the second monument to ARL that comprises two information plaques together with other pieces of the RBC. Amongst these exhibits is a section of the centrally-pivoted 60-ton rotating beam, which could be rotated up to such speed that a 20ft long model test piece (mounted 55ft from the pivot point) travelled at 90 knots (45 metres/second) at a depth of 6ft in the water-channel. The RBC facility was used for experiments on a range of items to investigate how they behaved at high speed when underwater. It was also used to determine the propulsion and control behaviour of underwater vehicles e.g. torpedoes.

ARL Monument in The Stockyard, Hampton Court Road with Assistant Park Manager,
Bill Swan who was responsible for the ARL Monuments
(Photo: Nigel Godsell ex-ARL Group L - 2017)

The RBC was just one of the many facilities underpinning ARL work, other in-house and outstation facilities also played key roles in the physical research that, during the Cold War, ranged from Radiological Defence, to Underwater Acoustics centred on a submarine’s ability to avoid detection and its capability to detect and prosecute targets - ships and submarines. Many aspects of ARL’s research remain highly classified.

Bill who was solely responsible for creating the monuments, became aware that the information plaque (detailing the RBC) he had created, with assistance from a past member of ARL's G-Group, Les Messum, fell significantly short of a history of ARL’s research. Upon discovery of the original version of this ARL website, he sought help from its creator to produce an additional information plaque for the monuments. Following months of collaboration and having to overcome many problems associated with the production of block-filled, engraved stainless steel sheet, an additional plaque was added to both monument sites in July 2017.

Location of Monuments in Bushy Park

Top Left: Upper Lodge monument; Bottom left: The Stockyard monument

Closer few of the location of the ARL monument at Upper Lodge

The ARL monument at Upper Lodge is situated in an area that was within ARL's Upper Lodge site - for further information see website contents >> Upper Lodge.

Closer few of the location of the ARL monument in The Stockyard

The ARL monument in The Stockyard is situated on the left, close to the Hampton Court Road entrance, which is the only point of public access.


Visiting the monuments

Both monuments are accessible by the public. The nearest access point to the monument at Upper Lodge is the (Park) pedestrian gate on the High Street, Hampton Hill. Whereas the one at Upper Lodge is in an open area and can be viewed during Bushy Park opening times, The Stockyard is a secure area that is open during working hours only. Anyone wishing to park in The Stockyard is advised to contact the Bushy Park office on 0300 061 2250.


ARL remains in Queens Road

Following the closure of the Admiralty Research Laboratory's main site in 1988 it was subject to redevelopment as houses in the 1990s. Somewhat against the odds the pillars of the post-1939 ARL entrance that supported a pair of large, varnished wooden gates  were kept  and now mark the development's access point on Queens Road named Admiralty Way.

ARL remains: the support pillars for the large wooden gates off Queens Road, Teddington
Photo: John Holland ex-ARL Group E(W) - 2011


ARL remains at Upper Lodge, Bushy Park

Defence-related work ceased in Dec 1993 and the Upper Lodge site was returned to Crown Estates. Since then the bulk of the site has been demolished and the land returned to Bushy Park with public access. Along with the old Lodge a portion of the Rotating Beam Channel (aka the Whirling Arm) facility has been retained and redeveloped as private dwellings.

What was ARL Upper Lodge site entrance with the Lodge beyond no longer obscured from view by
the Hydrodynamics 30" Water Tunnel and G-Group office block built in the early 1950s.

Photo: John Holland ex-ARL Group E(W) - 2011

The retained portion of the RBC aka 'Whirling Arm' building with its
new, somewhat sympathetically-styled access gates.

Photo: John Holland ex-ARL Group E(W) - 2011