Post Office Research Station

The Post Office Research Station was first established as a separate section of the General Post Office in 1909.[1]

The former Post Office Research Station
The former Post Office Research Station, 2012

In 1921, the Research Station moved to Dollis Hill, north west London, initially in ex-army huts.[1]

The main permanent buildings at Dollis Hill were opened in 1933 by Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.[1][2]

In 1968 it was announced that the station would be relocated to a new centre to be built at Martlesham Heath in Suffolk. This was formally opened on 21 November 1975 by Queen Elizabeth and is today known as Adastral Park.

The old Dollis Hill site was released for housing, with the main building converted into a block of luxury flats and an access road named Flowers Close, in honour of Tommy Flowers. Much of the rest of the site contains affordable housing administered by Network Housing.

World War IIEdit

In 1943 the world's first programmable electronic computer, Colossus Mark 1, was built by Tommy Flowers and his team, followed in 1944 and 1945 by nine Colossus Mark 2s. These were used at Bletchley Park in Cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher. Dollis Hill also built the predecessor of Colossus the Heath Robinson (codebreaking machine). The Director, Gordon Radley, was also told of the secret Bletchley Park establishment.

Members of Flowrers' team included Sydney Broadhurst, William W. Chandler, Harry Fensom; and Allen Coombs (who took over for the Mark II version of Colossus).

Paddock, a World War II concrete two-level underground bunker, was built in secret in 1939 as an alternative Cabinet War Room underneath a corner of the Dollis Hill site. Its surface building was demolished after the war.


The first transatlantic radio telephone service (in the 1940s).[3]

In 1957 ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) was built for the government's Premium Bond lottery, by Sidney Broadhurst's team.

In 1971 Samuel Fedida conceived Viewdata and the Prestel service was launched in 1979.

Notable staffEdit


  1. ^ a b c "The Post Office Research Station". Nature. 162 (4106): 51–53. 10 July 1948. doi:10.1038/162051a0.
  2. ^ Excell, Jon (5 October 2017). "October 1933: The Post Office Research Station". The Engineer.
51°33′42″N 0°14′18″W / 51.561629°N 0.238401°W / 51.561629; -0.238401