Sennen Cove then and now

Sennen Cove today is an idyllic holiday cove, world renown centre for surfing, sandy beach and friendly local people. It's war years were very different. Five years of TOP SECRET radar sites all but forgotten today. Our valued visitors know little of the footsteps in which they walk. Sadly most of the infrastructure of the RAF Station, has all but gone but fortunately for research, a few who lived during those dark distant years have shared the past with me, for which I am grateful. “The Old Success” public house in which you may have a drink or a meal, or perhaps you may stay there, was the RAF Officers Mess. Majestically surveying the cove from high on the cliff is Sennen Heights Apartments, pre war it was the Sennen Cove Hotel. During WW2 it was the WAAF Quarters for the Top Secret Radar establishment on the Cliffs between the Cove and the Land’s End Complex. This was RAF Mark’s Castle, Chain Home Low 17A Radar station, defending the Country in its darkest hours, watching the skies for enemy aircraft.


This particular modern day photograph is perfect for explaining the wartime layout. The modern holiday complex in the extreme foreground is built on the site of the original cookhouse and recreation rooms. To it's imeadiate right where the two low buildings are, was the site of two nissen huts for RAF male accommodation. Where the carpark extends left behind the buildings was the Medical Centre. Also where the WC block is today in the carpark was situated another nissen hut accommodation. There was also an Admin HQ near the present day toilets but not easy to explain, it's concrete steps are still to be seen.

Lastly the WAAF block can just be seen peaking out at the top right.

Photograph courtesy



Page under construction


1943 view of the Cookhouse and recreation complex from room 4 of the WAAF block.




A view from room 4 of the WAAF block looking towards the beach.

Photo courtesy of ex WAAF Muriel Bunkhall nee Mussenden



Taken just behind the present day toilet block in the carpark. This small step is on the seaward end of the Nissen hut seen above to the right of the cookhouse with the single vehicle along side it.



A particularly good shot of the cookhouse complex and behind the complex, almost in the centre of the photo, is the long black timber Admin HQ building (not the building in the foreground). The WAAF block can also be seen end on top right.




This is the upper floor of the WAAF block showing just half the length of the corridor


The Sennen Cove Hotell (The WAAF Block)

Photo courtesy of Cyril Jackson

Georgina's Cafe' (Sennen Cove Cafe')

The Service personnel treated this as the NAAFI. It is also where Norah Leggatt used to meet boyfriend Archie (Jock) Easton for supper. This is mentioned in his letters to Norah.

Photo Courtesy of Cyril Jackson

Cyril and wife Eileen were to hold their wedding reception here on 9th Dec 1946

More photo's to be added.




Cyril tells me that all of the buildings after the war, were turned into civilian housing due to the extreme housing shortage. The cookhouse complex was broken up into small units. He could also remember who lived where. An amazing memory.

Not the nicest subject but still visible today is the sewage line from WAAF block and cookhouse running out to sea. Cyril says it was far from pleasant near the outfall.

WAAF block showing original steel door at one end of corridor. Further questions have returned the information that this steel door separated the WAAF block from the smaller slightly higher Hotel block which continued as a hotel for some of the war years housing escapee's from the blitz.


A present day view from the end window of the WAAF block






Another view out over the harbour from room 4 WAAF Block.

Again Courtesy of Muriel Bunkhall



The main carpark taken along side the toilet block. Through the gap in the wall and to the left are the original steps leading up to the HQ Admin offices which were almost on a level with the top of the wall. WAAF block is the long white building across top of photo.


Letter posted St Mary's Isles of Scilly 29 Oct 42

One of the letters written to Norah at Sennen. As in all the other letters he mentions having supper. In other letters he says "In the Cafe'". Cyril and others tell me there was only Georgina's Cafe that it could have been.

Sennen as it would have been seen by RAF & WAAF personel when they first arrived here. Far from the made up road and sea wall of today.

The single story white building with a car to it's centre front was the RAF Medical Centre in which Norah Leggatt spent a little time. To it's right a black wooden building was the RAF Admin block. Surveying the site from above is the WAAF Block (Sennen Cove Hotel). My thanks to Mrs Roberts (Sennen) for the Post card.

Another fantastic photo by Peter Crumpler. Streched out on the high ground left to right is the entire area of RAF Mark's Castle. I think this will lend it self to being altered to a painting. Perhaps time to bring back my painting hobby.

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