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We present a description of the prototype interferometric gravitational wave detector at Glasgow. The detector, which has been under development for a number of years, consists of two perpendicular 10‐m‐long high finesse Fabry–Perot cavities formed between test masses hung as pendulums and is illuminated with a cw argon ion laser. The differential displacement sensitivity of the detector is ∼7×10-19 m/√Hz from 500 Hz → 3 kHz and is close to being limited by photoelectron shot noise in the detected photocurrent. © 1995 American Institute of Physics.