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NRP   Dutch Radar Laboratory
Nederlands Radar Proefstation

Nederlands Radar Proefstation (NRP) was the Dutch Radar Laboratory, founded shortly after WWII – on 7 July 1947 – by Mr. J.M.F.A. (Joop) van Dijk, to bring The Netherlands up to speed with the wartime developments in the field of RADAR. Over the years, NRP developed a range of radio and radar equipment, plus a variety of covert listening devices for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). NRP is also the founder of the Christiaan Huygens Lab (CHL), which still exists today (2019).

NRP logo

NRP equipment on this website
Ultra secret project for the CIA, for developing an equivalent to the Russian passive bug known as 'The Thing' under the codename EASY CHAIR.
Artemis range-bearing radar system for precicion positioning
PAN-1000 intercept receiver developed for the Dutch Radio Monitoring Service (RCD)
NRP field strength indicator with built-in frequency counter
During WWII, standing in his garden on the morning of 23 July 1943, Joop van Dijk had watched hundreds of small pieces of silver paper falling from the sky. He immediately realised that it had to be a countermeasure against a high frequency navigation system that was hitherto unknown.

Van Dijk, who had established the Dutch Radio Union (Algemene Nederlandse Radio Unie) back in 1934, went to England immediately after the war, to meet Sir Robert Watson Watt, wartime nagivation pioneer and early RADAR developer.

When he came back, he successfully argued the necessity for The Netherlands to get involved in radar technology. He got permission to set up a laboratory for coastal radar in the town of Noordwijk, right at the Dutch sea side.

On 7 July 1947 the station, meanwhile housed in the remarkable Villa Wave Guide, was officially opened by Mr. D. Spitzen, the secretary-general of the Ministry of Transport, on behalf of the Minister (Vos) [3], by turning on a coastal radar system that greatly enhanced safety on the North Sea. Radar developer, Sir Robert Watson Watt, was amongst the distinguised guests that day.
NRP was housed for many years in villa WAVE GUIDE in Noordwijk. Copyright unknown [4].

In the years that followed, the NRP was involved in development and consultancy in the field of radar, navigation, sensors, communication equipment and communication systems in general. The NRP developed Artemis, a high-precision microwave locating and positioning system that played an important role in the Dutch Delta Works, for precision-positioning of the caissons.

In the 1960s, the NRP established a separate research facility, known as Christiaan Huygens Laboratorium, which focussed on the research, development and production of radar antenna systems and microwave sensors [1]. In 1960, new building for the lab was erected next door.

Earlier, in 1954, the NRP was put in contact with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), through the liaison of the Dutch Security Service (BVD). It resulted in a research contract for the development of covert listening devices (bugs) under the mysterious codename EASY CHAIR.
Laboratory on the first floor of villa Wave Guide

Over the years, a variety of bugs, receivers, antennas and measuring equipment was developed for the CIA. In addition, the NRP developed several innovative audio masking techniques for the CIA. In 1972, the Christiaan Huygens Lab (meanwhile renamed CHL) was acquired by Boskalis, at the time one of the largest dredging companies in The Netherlands. Shortly afterwards, on 22 March 1973, NRP owner Joop van Dijk, who had meanwhile moved to Switzerland, passed away.

For the CIA this was a reason to reconsider its relationship with the NRP. With CHL in the hands of a big conglomerate and the uncertain future of the NRP, the confidential nature of the work for the CIA could not be guaranteed sufficiently.

The problem was solved in 1975 by the current NRP directors Gerhard Prins and At Admiraal, by buying the company shares from the estate of van Dijk. Prins and Admiraal had both joined the NRP back in 1950 and were heavily involved in the development of the Easy Chair equipment [6]. And more importantly: the CIA trusted them.
Joop van Dijk

The relationship with the CIA was secured, which was important as at the height of the work on Easy Chair it had contributed to more than 50% of the company's turnover. In the following 10 years the NRP would develop several new generations of listening devices (bugs) for the CIA.

In 1984, after CHL-owner Boskalis had run into financial trouble, Admiraal managed to buy back CHL (meanwhile relocated to Katwijk) with its 35 staff, making it an NRP subsidiary once again.

Meanwhile, in 1982, Gerhard Prins had retired from the NRP, but kept working for the company as an advisor until 1984. After that, the work on new developments for the CIA started to decline, as Prins' creative and inventive mind was dearly missed. Nevertheless, the NRP refurbished the existing CIA equipment until the early 1990s, and even developed the all new SRT-153 bug.
NRP company director Gerhard Prins (left) and At Admiraal (right)

To make up for the decline in orders from the CIA, the NRP started looking for other development work, in which their knownledge in the field of transmitters and receivers could be exploited. This was done by teaming up with the Dutch subsidary of the German conglomerate AEG Telefunken.

AEG, who had a good track record in the field of civil, military and governmental communications systems, was a key supplier to the Dutch Police and was able to delegate modication work and the development of control centres to the NRP.

In the early 1980s, also via AEG, the NRP came in contact with the Dutch Radio Monitoring Service (RCD), who urgently needed high-end mobile monitoring receivers for locating the rapidly increasing number of clandestine radio stations (pirates) in the country. The NRP subsequently developed the sophisticated PAN-1000 receiver.
PAN-1000 main unit

In 1993, the radar activities of the NRP and CHL were merged and the company went on as CHL Netherlands BV. The remainder of the NRP was liquidated and the highly secret activities for the CIA came to an end. CHL is still in business today and has its headquarters in Katwijk, from where it sells its expertise in sophisticated radar antenna systems and microwave sensors [1].

NRP products
Over the years, NRP and its (then) subsidary CHL, developed and produced a variety of equipment in the field of radio and radar, some of which is covered below. It is little known that the NRP also developed and built an impressive range of covert listening devices (bugs) and related equipment for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under the intriguing codename EASYCHAIR.

Work for the CIA
In 1952, the CIA discovered a covert listening device in the office of the American Ambassador in Moscow, which became known as The Thing. In 1954, the CIA approached the NRP with the request to research The Thing's principles and develop similar technology for the CIA.

The research resulted in a long-term contract with the CIA, for the development of a range of covert listening devices (bugs), receivers and test equipment, under the codename EASY CHAIR.

 More information
Ultra secret project for the CIA, for developing an equivalent to the Russian passive bug known as 'The Thing' under the codename EASY CHAIR (EC).

Artemis is a high-precision microwave locating and positioning system of the range-bearing type, developed by the NRP between 1957 and 1964. It was used for precision-positioning of the caissons in the Dutch Delta Works.

Artemis was later maintained by CHL and is current being produced and marketed by Guidance Marine in the UK (2017).

 More information

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PAN-1000 was a high-end general coverage panoramic intercept receiver, that was developed especially for the Dutch Radio Monitoring Service (RCD) in the early 1980s.

The receiver covers a frequency range from 0.1 to 1000 MHz and could be fitted inside a car. It was intended for locating clandestine radio stations (pirates).

 More information

Complete PAN-1000 set

Alongside the PAN-1000 intercept receiver (see above), the NRP also released this small portable field-strength indicator that was used by the law enforcement officers to pinpoint the location of clandestine transmitter at very close range.

This unit has a built-in frequency counter that could be enabled temporarily by the user, to quickly determine the frequency of the strongest signal in its vicinity.

 More information

NRP field strength meter with built-in frequency counter
Opening of the NRP building in 1947
The video below is probably the only surviving footage of the opening of the NRP (Dutch Radar Laboratory) in July 1947. The short 1:24 minute clip was taken by the Dutch cinema new agency Polyoon/Profilty, and published on 7 July 1947. It features a number of distinguised people, including NRP founder Joop van Dijk and radar pioneer Sir Robert Watson Watt.

Opening Nederlands Radar Proefstation - 7 July 1947.
Source: Open Images. Reproduced under the Creative Commons.

Villa Wave Guide today
The former headquarters of the NRP - Villa Wave Guide - was built in 1912 as Villa Kempner. It was designed by architect Karel (K.P.C.) de Bazel as a holiday house for the German businessman G. Kempner, who was a great admirer of The Netherlands and the Dutch coastline in particular.

During WWII, the house was occupied and used by the German Army to oversee and protect the work on the Atlantic Wall [10]. Towards the end of the war, the Germans abandonned the 33 years old villa and left it in a deplorable state.

Shortly after the war, in 1946, the building was acquired by Joop van Dijk with the intention to use it as the future headquarters for the newly established Dutch Radar Laboratory (Nederlands Radar Proefstation). The house was refurbished and expanded. Furthermore, it was painted white and was given the suitable name WAVE GUIDE. 1
Villa Wave Guide in March 2017

At the rooftop, an impressive operational radar antenna, a so-called scanner, was installed. It was intended for radar experiments and demonstrations. In July 1947 the new prestigious company opended its doors, in the presence of Robert Watson Watt, as can be seen in the newsreel above.

Over the years, the villa was refurbished and expanded several times and in 1960 a separate building was erected to house the Christiaan Huygens Laboratorium (now: CHL). It is visible in the image above to the left of Villa Wave Guide.

As the Christiaan Huygens Laboratory was spun out of the NRP to focus on the development of radar antennas, the big rotating radar scanner was removed from the rooftop of Wave Guide and re-erected on top of the new CHL building, as can be seen in this picture that was taken in 1962 whilst working on the Easy Chair Mark V.
The name 'Wave Guide' still on the building in March 2017

CHL was sold off in 1972 and bought back in 1984 by the NRP's new owners Gerhard Prins and At Admiraal. In 1993 part of the NRP was merged with CHL and the company was relocated to a new premises in Katwijk. The NRP's former headquarters - Villa Wave Guide - became a family house for the next 25 years, but kept its radiant white colour and its intriguing name as witnesses of its remarkable past. In 2017 it was sold to a new owner, who has since refurbished it completely.

 Villa Waveguide in 2017
 Villa Waveguide in 2019

  1. A Wave Guide, also written as Waveguide, is a hollow pipe structure that guides electromagnetic or acoustic waves. It is one of the core components of a radar installation.  Wikipedia

Villa Wave Guide in March 2017
The name 'Wave Guide' still on the building in March 2017
Villa Wave Guide (NRP) seen from Hotel Belvedere
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Villa Wave Guide in March 2017
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The name 'Wave Guide' still on the building in March 2017
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Villa Wave Guide (NRP) seen from Hotel Belvedere

Last known addresses
  • Nederlands Radar Proefstation (NRP)
    Villa Wave Guide
    Zuid Boulevard 57
    Noordwijk aan Zee (Netherlands)

  • Nederlands Radar Proefstation (NRP)
    Villa Wave Guide
    Koningin Astrid Boulevard 57
    Noordwijk aan Zee (Netherlands)

  • Christiaan Huygens Lab (CHL)
    Koningin Astrid Boulevard 56
    Noorwijk aan Zee (Netherlands)

  • CHL Netherlands BV
    Office address: Lageweg 16, 2222 AG Katwijk, Netherlands
    Postal address: P.O. Box 3072, 2220 CB Katwijk
    Phone: +31 (0)71 4025514
  1. NRP Company Brochure
    Date unknown, but probably mod-1970s.

  2. Nederlands Radar Proefstation 40 Jaar / 1947-1987
    NRP 40-year celebration, July 1987 (Dutch).

  3. CHL Company brochure
    Date unknown, but probably 1987.

  4. Polygoon Journaal: Een Radar Proefstation aan de Nederlandse Kust
    Short news clip about the new Dutch Radar Laboratory (Dutch). 7 July 1947.
  1. CHL Netherlands BV, History of CHL
    Website. Retrieved January 2013.

  2. Reformatorisch Dagblad, Radar/Proefstation op Boulevard in Noordwijk
    Website (Dutch) 3 January 1985.  Original article

  3. Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, Radar-proefstation geopend
    8 July 1947. p.1, col. 6.

  4. Noordwijkse Huizen, Photograph of Villa Wave Guide
    Website (Dutch). Copyright unknown. Retrieved January 2013.

  5. Google Streetview, Photograph of Villa Wave Guide today (2013)
    Google Maps. Retrieved January 2013 and November 2019.

  6. Nederlands Radar Proefstation 40 Jaar / 1947-1987
    July 1987.

  7. Pjotr, Villa Kempner (eindelijk)
    Retrieved March 2017.

  8. Bazel, K.P.C. de / Archief
    Retreived March 2017.

  9. Fritz Kempner, Looking Back
    Family history 2006. Retrieved march 2017.

  10. Wikipedia, Atlantic Wall
    Retrieved March 2017.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Tuesday 15 January 2013. Last changed: Monday, 26 December 2022 - 08:45 CET.
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