Adastral Park – a very quick history

© Lee Wilkinson

© Lee Wilkinson

In the late 1960s the Post Office decided to moved its research and development base from Dollis Hill in Neasden, London to what’s now Adastral Park, at Martlesham Heath. It was officially opened by HM The Queen in 1975 after the main building complex – with it’s iconic radio tower – was completed. Until 1999 it was just Post Office Telecommunications (later BT) and its people. The site opened as the Post Office Research Centre, then became BT Research Laboratories and finally just BT Laboratories.

In 1999 the site was relaunched as Adastral Park – with other telecommunications, IT and hi-tech companies joining BT. There are currently over 70 such companies based at Adastral Park under the Innovation Martlesham banner. The name ‘Adastral Park’ is a acknowledgement of Martlesham Heath’s RAF research and development past; from the RAF motto Per ardua ad astra (“through adversity to the stars”).

On the BT side there’s less pure research than in earlier days, but Adastral Park is still the hub of BT’s technical design and development. Notable Post Office/BT achievements that started life or were given a big R&D ‘kick’ at Adastral Park include:

  • Microwave Waveguide Transmission
  • Fibre Optic Transmission
  • Electronic & Digital Telephone Exchanges
  • Prestel
  • First generation electronic phones
  • Mobile networks – analogue and digital

Adastral Park is a large campus site, built on a significant part of the RAF Martlesham Heath airfield. BT and the Innovation Martlesham companies together employee over 4000 people at Adastral Park.