FARS celebrated 100 years of Amateur Radio in the Furness area in June and July 2013 with a 28 days special events station... GB100RXY
Furness ARS completed their activation of GB100RXY on July 2nd 2013 as a celebration of 100 years of amateur radio in the Furness area of NW England. This celebration was prompted by a re-reading of two RSGB books, World At Their Fingertips by John Clarricoats and Bright Sparks of Wireless by GR Jessop by Laurie G4BZP one of our club members.
The first club to receive a transmitting licence was the Derby club followed by Liverpool, Birmingham, Northants and our own Barrow in Furness Wireless Club. The Dublin Wireless Club began a day earlier than the Barrow club but Eire is not now part of the UK so we consider the Barrow club to be the fifth English club to be licensed. This licence and the call letters RXY were issued by the Post Office on June 26th 1913.
I spoke to the Derby Club Secretary at one of the Hamfests and pursued the issue of a GB100 call and NOV with Ofcom also at a Hamfest. Investigating matters locally led us to make enquiries of the Barrow & District Association of Engineers (BDAE) and they revealed they held minutes of a public lecture early in 1913 on the subject of Wireless Telegraphy.
Our local MP John Woodcock was also very happy to provide a letter of support and in fact visited the station whilst it was operating from one of the venues. He was interested and amazed at the distances and countries we had worked and visibly happy to have his photograph taken sat at a loaned FT-2000. The club had the opportunity to operate G100RSGB in January of 1913 and consequently experienced some pile-ups during the three days we operated.
We secured 2,540 contacts in these few days so we hoped for great things during our own centenary activity. Unfortunately this was not to be since band conditions were absolutely awful for most of the period of our NOV.
An approach was made in May to Ofcom about progress on our NVV and special call only to find that all the support letters, photocopies and other information as well as the application had been shredded without being scanned. Thankfully, I had copied most of this stuff myself before sending off the originals but some intense negotiations took place and thanks to an understanding Ofcom official, we were granted the special call GB100RXY thus re-activating the 1913 call. This came just in time since the planned activity was only a few weeks away. One of our newer club members, Chris M0KPW, volunteered to write a dedicated website for the centenary and it went live just in time.
We have a close friendship with our local RNLI station at Barrow and have raised significant sums for them including £1000 this year as part of SOS Radio week. We sought permission and started our activation from the lifeboat station itself where we operated for several days with a lot of success. Members of the club then operated from the town square as part of a festival over the following weekend June 8th & 9th and had the highest profile possible being in front of the Town Hall. This was also an excellent opportunity to meet and explain amateur radio to members of the public.
The following week we attempted to operate from our club HQ at Gleaston Watermill but were plagued with a lot of noise from equipment on the site. Apologies to anyone who called us and didn’t work us but we were unable to hear any but the loudest stations. As a result of the contacts made in the council, we operated over the next weekend from our local museum within yards of the Irish Sea. Having returned to the club HQ on June 17th, we moved our station to a field a short distance from the Mill and behind the residence of Mike G8ALE who also owns the restored Mill. Here we had minimal noise, had mains power from Mike’s workshop, operated from the club caravan and had plenty of room for masts for our doublet and a HF trap vertical. We operated from here for the rest of the NOV and despite the poor conditions, had great fun. On the final evening, our two Octogenarians, G3IZD and G4BZP took it to the wire working stations until 23:59 on July 2nd.
As part of our celebration of this centenary, Furness ARS have been invited to submit items for a display at our local museum and 100 years after that first public lecture of our Association of Engineers, club member, Chris M0TES will bring up to date the subject of Wireless when he gives a lecture in September as part of the Winter lecture topics of BDAE.
A little over 3,500 contacts were made despite the continuing dreadful band conditions. Several lessons were learned and it only remains to say, let’s make a sked for the 200th anniversary.
David Latimer G3VUS
2013Chair, Furness Amateur Radio Society