The strange shape of things to come

A giant structure built at English Electric's Plastics Division, Warton in 1961 for housing radar equipment

A giant structure built at English Electric's Plastics Division, Warton in 1961 for housing radar equipment

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INTRODUCING what was Europe’s biggest plastic ‘house’, a huge green dome which made its mark, albeit temporarily, on the Fylde coast skyline back in October 1961.

The large ball-shaped object, teased on Memory Lane last Saturday, had Warton residents joking 50 years ago that little green men had landed when the structure was built by of one of BAE Systems’ predecessors English Electric.

The dome, clearly visible from Lytham Road, Warton – in pre-M55 days one of the main roads to the seaside at Blackpool – was revealed at a press conference to be a radome.

The name came from radar and dome, put simply, a cover for the protection of defence radar equipment designed not to interfere with the radar beam inside.

It was the largest reinforced plastic structure in Europe, almost 70ft in diameter and more than 50ft high, and designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and sub-zero temperatures.

Made entirely of reinforced plastic materials, fibreglass and resin, it consisted of 300 diamond-shaped panels bolted together. The nuts and bolts holding it together were the only pieces of metal in the huge structure.

The radome, costing £20,000, weighed less than 10 tons compared to a steel structure of more than 100 tons.

English Electric was to make the buildings under licence and it was said one could be erected by a team of 25 men in just 15 hours.