100 Years of Amateur Radio in Furness

2013 is the Centenary Year of Amateur Radio in the UK.

Barrow Wireless Association was one of the first Amateur radio clubs to be issued with a transmitting licence in the UK, on the 26th June 1913. To celebrate, GB100RXY was active between June 5th and July 2nd 2013 at various venues around Furness.  Visit the GB100RXY website for full details.

We would like to thank all the thousands of amateurs from around the world who worked our centenary station and hope you all enjoyed your QSO - after looking at the logs GB100RXY made over 3500 QSOs

Furness ARS would like to celebrate the role of Radio Amateurs in the Furness area in establishing the Barrow Wireless Association by setting up a special radio station for a number of weeks on or around the 26th June 2013 in Barrow-in-Furness with the specific purpose of giving publicity to this historic date.

The hobby of Amateur Radio has its roots in the early days of the 20th Century. Before 1900 progress in the development of ‘Radio Telegraphy’ was largely made by academics, engineers and scientists in their professional roles in universities, industry and the military services.

In 1903 the first meetings of the ‘International Telegraph Conference’ and the ‘International Conference on Wireless Telegraphy’ were held in London and Berlin respectively.

In 1904 the ‘Wireless Telegraphy Act’ became law in Great Britain and the licensing of wireless transmission by an ever increasing body of ‘amateur’ experimenters came into force. In 1910 the Postmaster General decreed that all holders of experimental licences should have a distinctive call-sign.

Each station when transmitting was to begin with the call-sign of the station being called and was to end with its own call-sign. In 1913 the first local club licences were issued to Derby Wireless Club (QIX), Liverpool - March 1913, Birmingham Wireless Association (TXS) April 1913, Northants & District Wireless Club – June 4th 1913, Barrow and District Amateur Wireless Association (RXY) - 26 June 1913 and Newcastle – July 1913. At this time there were some 405 licenced transmitting stations and 360 receiving stations.

In March 1913 at the 6th meeting of the Barrow and District Association of Engineers Mr F W Skinner AMIEE gave a talk on ‘Wireless Telegraphy’ supported by the loan of equipment from ‘Messrs. Vickers’ from their Walney station. After reading minutes of this lecture and others, I think it is safe to conclude that much of the interest in setting up this club and understanding the science of Wireless Telegraphy was from employees of the company.

During 1913 and early 1914 the growth of interest was rapid and in particular the London Wireless Club was formed with a number of eminent and influential members. This club was eventually to become the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) – the official body representing amateur radio in the UK.

In the 1950s the Barrow Wireless Association met at the Castle House Hotel on Walney Island . Club meetings were held in the attic of the hotel and had ex RAF radio equipment as used in Lancaster Bombers - R1155 (RX) and T1154 (TX). Later the club moved to the old Technical College on Abbey Road.

As an affiliated club to the RSGB – a National charity – we have a remit to undertake educational and informative activities in the field of Amateur Radio. We have a good record in this field with involvement over the years in National open events, conducting examinations for Amateur Licences at all levels and setting up publicly accessible stations including the Cumbria Steam Gathering, the Ravenglass & Eskdale and Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railways, Walney Lighthouse, The Lifeboat Institution (£500 raised last year for RNLI and £1000 this) and the Sir John Barrow Monument on Hoad Hill.

In January 2013, we operated a station with the Centenary callsign G100RSGB of the National society for three days and managed a total of 2540 contacts around the world and we followed that by two weekends of activity at Roa Island for RNLI fund-raising again.

We believe that this is an opportunity to bring to public notice the significant contribution made by radio amateurs. The development of Short Wave communication in the 1920s and 30s by amateurs when professionals had considered these frequencies worthless or the skilled contribution to our national interest particularly during WW2 and the subsequent massive expansion of international communications technology in the second half of the 20th century have all been influenced to a lesser or greater extent by amateurs. Amateur communication now covers a wide spectrum of modes from morse and voice in various forms to advanced data exchanges and television. From the ionosphere to communication via amateur-built satellites and meteor bounce. The pioneers of 1913 would not recognise the hobby today and yet the foundation they laid produced much of the advance.

28 days came and went... we did it!

The operation of GB100RXY during the 28 days licence is now complete although there remain other activities celebrating this centenary of amateur radio in Furness.

Band conditions were dreadful during this time with several people remarking that they cannot remember the bands being this bad for so long. Despite this we had over 3,500 contacts with the occasional bit of DX despite our simple station. On the last evening of operating, our two Octogenarians (ie over 80 years of age) continued working stations until 23:59 thus ensuring we ceased operating on a high.

A number of members of the club were involved in one way or another and all deserve a thank you. In particular, Chris 2E0CPG (now M0KPW) for the website creation and his operating, Ivan G3IZD drove our operating skills up whilst contributing to the totals and to Laurie G4BZP whose idea it was in the first place. Thanks also to BAE Systems, Barrow & District Association of Engineers, Barrow Borough Council and our local MP John Woodcock all of whom contributed letters of support which secured this special centenary callsign.
73's - Dave G3VUS
2013 FARS Club Secretary