Admiralty Research Laboratory - Locations & Remains

in Teddington & Bushy Park

Teddington, Middlesex - now the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

The main site of the Admiralty Research Laboratory (ARL) was  towards the eastern end of Queens Road, on the southern side, and adjoined the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). Physically isolated from NPL, ARL had its own entrance; from 1939 this was an impressive pair of varnished-wood gates some 10 - 12 foot high. There was an equally impressive pair of ornamental wrought iron gates of a similar size directly opposite, on the southern boundary of the site that opened onto the perimeter road around the NPL sports ground.

ARL Queens Road buildings (in black) circa 1953
Note temporary WWII buildings either side of Chestnut Avenue

ARL Queens Road site mid-1960s

What's Left

Following the closure of the site in 1988 it was subject to redevelopment as a housing estate in the 1990s utilising the ARL site access point on Queens Road - now named Admiralty Way.

ARL remains: the support pillars for the large wooden gates in Queens Rd
Photo: John Holland ex-ARL Group E(W) - 2011


Bushy Park

Upper Lodge was situated in the northwest corner of Bushy Park, and accessible by road from Hampton Hill High Street, also from Teddington and Hampton Court via the road through the park, Chestnut Avenue.

Site under ARL occupancy circa 1969 prior to the redevelopment of the eastern area


Old map
The site c1935 prior to occupation by ARL. Key -  A: The Mews; B: The Lodge;
C: WWI vintage single-storey colonial-style wooden building.

U/L site plan

U/L site plan prior to redevelopment - not to scale


a Main entrance
b Single-storey colonial-style wooden building occupied by D-Group
c Rotating Beam Channel (RBC) known within ARL as 'The Whirling Arm' - a G-Group facility
d 30" Water Tunnel - a G-Group facility
e ARL Photographic Section
f Single-storey hut occupied by a section of D-Group, which became a separate group, ACINT
g G-Group's 12" Water Tunnel and a number of small buildings - occupied by the Admiralty Psychological Unit (APU), and the underwater sparks section of L-Group
h The lodge - offices & conference room
j A large wooden building that became D-Group's anechoic chamber for in-air calibration of hydrophones - the old cinema
k ARL's Motor Transport (MT) section was outside the site in part of the old mews; office was in the Clock Tower

In the 1970s, building "b" was replaced by a large lab and office block for D-Group, and a further block was built in the southeast corner to accommodate the Joint Acoustic Analysis Centre (JAAC). Around this time D-Group was sub-divided into work-related groups: ACINT, and N1 to N4.

Aerial view showing the new D-Group building - top left


What's Left

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 the 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 'Whirling Arm' building with its
somewhat sympathetically-styled access gates.
Photo: John Holland ex-ARL Group E(W) - 2011

Gone but not entirely forgotten - the Monuments

A commendable initiative led by The Royal Parks Assistant Manager Bill Swan has resulted in monuments to the Admiralty Research Laboratory. Some parts of the 'Whirling Arm' have been retained and are displayed in Bushy Park near Upper Lodge (the actual location is within the old ARL site) and in the Stockyard. These items have accompanying plaques, produced by The Royal Parks, describing the hydrodynamic facilities.

Gearwheel of the Whirling Arm monument in Bushy Park, located near Upper Lodge.
Photo: John Holland ex-ARL Group E(W) - 2011

The wall in the above photo was within the ARL Upper Lodge site and separated the Lodge grounds from the King's Canadian Camp School buildings. The wooden School buildings (originally built for the King's Canadian Hospital) were occupied by the majority of ARL's Noise Ranging Group from the mid-1950s onwards. The area where the buildings stood has now been returned to publicly accessible parkland with the wall bordering the redevelopment.

Site of monument at Upper Lodge

The Royal Parks plaque describing ARL hydrodynamics facilities, near Upper Lodge.
An identical one is mounted on a wall in the Stockyard
close-by other pieces from the Whirling Arm.
Photo: John Holland ex-ARL Group E(W) - 2011

This might not be the (complete) end, as Bill Swan is contemplating additional information panels giving an insight into the work of the Admiralty Research Laboratory - an outline of the information provided by these ARL webpages.


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