HIDDEN away in a nondescript brick building in historic Harwich is a the first ever purpose-built radar tower.

Harwich’s Radar Tower, which has opened its doors for the summer season, was built in 1941 to keep Harwich’s harbour safe against German fast-attack E-boats.

The pioneering piece of Second World War technology is tucked away from sight next to Harwich’s Beacon Hill Fort, off Barrack Lane.

When it ceased operation in December 1943 it was locked up with its original 21ft aerial array still in place.

As a result, Harwich’s Radar tower offers a unique view of the origins of operational radar and it is believed the equipment on its top floor is the only surviving Type 287 array anywhere in the world.

The building is one of the best kept tourism secrets in the country, but the Harwich Society, which runs the tower, is keen to encourage more people to experience it.

Curators Peter and Julie Appleton have spent the winter months ensuring that this season’s exhibits will be even more fascinating than what has previously been on display.

Peter has built a reconstruction of the original resonance chamber and also built replica valves so that visitors will get to see the type of equipment that originally operated Radar and how it worked.

Peter said: “Harwich’s Radar tower is a unique and important part of Second World War history as well as showing the origins of a technology that has become so vital in peace time.

“It is incredible to think we still have the original array in place after all of this time.”

The radar tower will be open from 11am to 3pm on Sunday April 17, May, 1, May 15 and May 29. Subsequent dates are yet to be confirmed.

Admission is free of charge but donations are gratefully accepted.

Harwich Society chairman Colin Farnell said: “To have the world’s first purpose-built radar tower with the original array still in place is mind blowing.”