Search

Caister radio hams contact 29 countries

PUBLISHED: 10:43 26 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:33 30 June 2010

Radio hams at the Caister Lifeboat Visitor Centre managed to contact more than 130 other radio amateurs in 29 different countries on Saturday when they took part in the annual International Marconi Day to mark the inventor's birthday.

Radio hams at the Caister Lifeboat Visitor Centre managed to contact more than 130 other radio amateurs in 29 different countries on Saturday when they took part in the annual International Marconi Day to mark the inventor's birthday.

Notable contacts included Queensland, Australia (using Morse code) and another in Saint Thomas on the US Virgin Islands (using speech). Other contacts varied from a ham north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland to another aboard a yacht in the Mediterranean.

The station's signals crossed the Atlantic on three other occasions, making contact with hams in Newfoundland, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Contacts closer to home included a holidaying ham in Caister and numerous other radio amateurs around the UK.

The Norfolk Amateur Radio Club (NARC) ran the all-day special event station with the callsign GB0CMS at Caister Lifeboat Visitor Centre to commemorate the village's original Marconi Wireless Station, which was established at Caister in 1900. The station was in a house in the High Street known as Pretoria Villa and its original purpose was to communicate with ships in the North Sea and the Cross Sand lightship.

On Saturday, the closest to Guglielmo Marconi's birthday, stations around the world were set up at sites with historical links to the inventor's work. These include Poldhu in England; Cape Cod Massachusetts; Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; Villa Griffone, Bologna, Italy and many others.

NARC public relation officer Steve Nichols, who organised the event, said: “We were very pleased with the way the day went and it just shows what you can do with radio using just 100W - about the same power as an average incandescent light bulb.

“We had some technical hitches, including our club chairman getting stuck 20 feet up in the air on a 'cherry picker' when its power supply failed, but that's all part of the fun.

“Considering we set the whole station up on the Saturday morning, including erecting the two antennas, installing the radios and computers, and had it all taken down again by the end of the day that's quite a feat - I think Marconi would have been proud!”

The Caister station was connected by land line to Gt Yarmouth Post Office and the Caister Coast Guard Station. The main aerial mast behind the house was 150 feet high, the aerial wire being suspended between this and a slightly shorter mast situated on land where Lacon Road was later built.

The large front room of the house contained the main apparatus and was also used as the operating room. The engine for charging the accumulators was situated in a shed adjoining the house and the accumulators themselves were housed in a specially constructed annex.

The remainder of the premises were used as a dwelling house for the officer-in-charge.

The range of communication was 150 to 200 miles on the long wave (600m) and 100 miles on the short wave (300m).

In 1909 all the Marconi coastal stations were taken over by the Post Office. In 1911 the Caister station was used to train lightship men in the use of telegraphy equipment.

In January 1915 the telegraph equipment on the Cross Sand lightship was transferred to the Parlour lightship and the Caister station was changed to 'general working' and not used for ship-to-shore work. Public use of the telegram facility provided at Caister was suspended for the duration of the WW1.

In 1921 plans were made for the reinstallation of wireless on Trinity House lightships, but this time the new wireless telephony was to replace telegraphy (Morse). New technology made the Caister station out of date and it finally closed in 1929. The masts were taken down and a few years later the house became the village Police Station.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury