1927 - Beam Wireless Worldwide

Project Overview
1800s - Land Telegraphy
1874 - Guglielmo Marconi - a Tribute
1895 - Wireless Telegraphy
1901 - Wireless Telegraphy
1902 - Wireless Telegraphy in Australia
1904 - Australian Coastal Radio
1906 - Wireless Telephony
1912 - Melbourne Radio - VIM
1914 - Shortwave Wireless Telephony
1920s - Commercial Shortwave Telephony Development
1920s - Receivers
1920 - The huge RCA Longwave Station in New York
1920 - Wireless broadcasting in Australia
1920s - First shortwave stations in Victoria
1921 - Discovery of Shortwave Propagation
1921 - Koo Wee Rup (Victoria) Experimental Wireless Receiving Station
1923- Longwave Broadcasting in Australia
1923 - Evolution of Australian Domestic Radio
1924 - 3LO - Melbourne's Second Broadcaster
1924 - 3AR - Melbourne's first broadcaster
1924 - The Braybrook (Melbourne) Transmitting Site
1925 - First Shortwave Stations in Western Australia
1926 - First Shortwave Stations in New South Wales
1926 - RAAF Communications - Laverton (Vic)
1927 - Beam Wireless Worldwide
1927 - Beam Wireless from Australia
1928 - ABC Lyndhurst (Victoria)
1930 - AWA Receiving Station at La Perouse (Sydney)
1930 - AWA Radio Centre at Pennant Hills
1933 (to 1969) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1936 - Ship Broadcaster - the MS Kanimbla
1939 - Belconnen Communications Station (Canberra)
1940 - RAAF Receiving Station at Werribee (Victoria)
1941 - RAAF Frognall (Melbourne)
1941 - ABC Brisbane
1942 - Army Wireless Chain - west of Melbourne
1942 - Dutch Stations in Australia
1943 - ABC Radio Australia - Shepparton (Victoria)
1943 - Army Shortwave HF Stations in Melbourne
1944 - ABC - Radio Australia - Looking Back
1945 - PMG Receiving Station - Highpark (Victoria)
1945 - Radio Australia - DXers Calling
1946 - Radio Australia - Communications Programs
1946 - VNG Time Signal Station
1948 - Radio Australia QSL Cards
1948 - ABC Sydney
1966 - ABC Cox Peninsula (Darwin)
1970 (to 2012) - Shortwave Radio Clubs in Australia
1975 - ABC Gnangara (Western Australia)
1975 - ABC Carnarvon (Western Australia)
1978 - Omega Navigation Station - Woodside (Victoria)
1985 - ABC Northern Territory
1989 - ABC Brandon (Queensland)
2003 - Private Shortwave Broadcasters
Timeline - Part One - 1839 to 1927
Timeline - Part Two - 1928 to 2012
SPECIAL - Licencing of Shortwave Broadcasters
SPECIAL - Radio Receivers for Shortwave
SPECIAL - Radio Monitoring as a Hobby
Bibliography, References and Resources
Links to the author's personal websites

Chart of Beam Wireless Network

Early Developments
In the mid-1920s, the developments of the Shortwave Beam Wireless were quickly advancing

Many advantages for sending high speed radio telegraphy had become apparent by the use of shortwave. Prior to this, radio telegraphy had been associated with high capital cost transmitting stations operating in very low frequencies (very long waves), using tremendous powers.

It was commonly believed that satisfactory 24-hr ship to shore communication would only be achieved by such a system, where fading problems were not significant. However, transmission of high speed wireless telegraphy was limited by the relatively low frequencies of the stations, and during the mid-1920s, it was recognized that some other form of broadcasting would need to be developed, to compete satisfactorily with the submarine cable systems.

The concept of the Beam Wireless was introduced, in which radio frequency energy was concentrated into a narrow path, using a complex system of antenna arrays, using shortwaves. The first such Beam transmitter in the world was built at Bodmin, Moor, Cornwall, England, and the first beam receiver at Bridgewater, Somerset, England.

The first beam stations on the American continent were at Drummondville and Yamachiohe, Canada, being replicas of the English facilities.

The overseas longwave stations typically operated with up 200 words per minute, for 18 hrs a day on frequencies between 10 kHz and 40 kHz, with powers of several hundred kilowatts. Antenna systems were enormous.

One such station, at Long Island, USA, of RCA, had 12 antennae for various parts of the world. Each antenna was supported on 12 440 ft. towers, and was about 8 km in length. It operated on 17 kHz, with between 200 and 400 kW of power.

This should be contrasted with the Australian installation at Ballan, where the antenna system had six masts 250 ft high, with a power of 20 kW, and operating on about 12 MHz,

The original concept for worldwide communication was with the usage of super high power on very low frequencies. Then, because of the subsequent experimentation with the broadcast of radio signals on shortwave frequencies, it was realized that a more reliable form of international communication could be achieved with the usage of lower power on shortwave frequencies, at a considerably lower cost.

Thus it was, that the Imperial Wireless Scheme, with a chain of super high powered longwave stations stretching from England to Australia via the Middle East, Africa and Asia was cancelled in the early 1920s, and in its place the Marconi company implemented a series of Beam Wireless Stations at the same locations. These stations were to be installed with the usage of the new valve or tube equipment, and the stations were to be located no more than 2,000 miles apart.

In the early and mid 1920s, several new Beam Wireless Stations were erected in England with the intent that each would be a key station for a communication service with a specific part of the world. Several of these stations were in use on occasions with the relay of radio programming for broadcast elsewhere, and for the transmission of news and commentaries from one part of the world to another.

The first of these new Beam Wireless Stations in England was installed at Leafield in Oxfordshire. Interest in this location began in the year 1912 when Marconi conducted experimental wireless transmissions in Morse Code. The partially built location was protected by the Home Guard during World War I, and a massive high powered longwave spark wireless station was installed in 1922 under the callsign GBL. Soon afterwards, electronic transmitters were installed, and these were on the air on shortwave under the callsigns GBM and GBO.

During World War II, Leafield was an important communication station, and in the 1960s it was upgraded and modernized, mainly for maritime communication, and it became one of the major stations known as Portishead Radio. The receiver station for Leafield was located at Devizes in Wiltshire. This Leafield station was finally closed in 1986 and the property was sold to a local college. Soon afterwards it was sold again, and it is now in use as a closed circuit for motor car racing.

Another Beam Wireless Station was installed at Bodmin in Cornwall and this station served as the England terminal for communication with Canada and South Africa under the callsigns GBJ and GBK. This station was opened for service at the end of a week long series of test transmissions in October 1927. The receiver station for Bodmin was located at Bridgewater.

During the late 1930s, the equipment at this station was dismantled, removed, transferred and re-erected at Dorchester, as a safety procedure due to political developments on continental Europe.

Another important Beam Wireless Station was erected at Grimsby in Cornwall in 1927. This was a very large station with a series of curtain antennas stretching for one mile. In actual reality, this was a double station with twin 20 kW transmitters. The Grimsby side communicated with Australia, and the Tetney side communicated with India.

This station was established and operated by the Marconi Company, and it was later taken over by Cable & Wireless. The callsigns in use at Grimsby-Tetney were GBH and GBI, and the receiver station was located at Winthorpe.

Another Beam Wireless Station during this era was constructed by the Marconi Company at Dorchester in the south of England. This was a very large station with two transmitter buildings and a bevy of curtain antenna systems on 460 acres of land.

The first transmitter hall at Dorchester initially contained four Marconi transmitters at 10 kW each, and the second transmitter hall contained eight transmitters at a similar power rating. Subsequently, at least a dozen higher powered transmitters rated around 30 kW were installed. The receiver station for the Dorchester transmitting station was located at nearby Somerton.

The Dorchester station was constructed specifically as the England terminal for communication circuits with Japan and Egypt, though subsequently, Asia, South Africa, North America and Australia were added. The main callsign for the American circuit at the Dorchester station was GLH, and for the South American circuit, GLW. This station was finally closed in April 1978.

The original concept for the terminals of the Beam Wireless Stations in England called for six separate stations, though this number was soon afterwards expanded to nine stations, and even more.  

Bodmin transmitter room

Bodmin transmitter room

October 25, 1926
The Beam Wireless Station in Canada was opened for shortwave communication with England.The Canadian transmitter station was located at Drummondville, Quebec, 50 km east of Montreal, and the receiver station was located at Yamachiche, 40 km north of the transmitter station at Drummondville. The Canadian station communicated regularly with the Bridgewater receiver station in England, and return messages to Canada were broadcast from the transmitter station located at Bodmin. Two of the shortwave transmitters at Drummondville were often noted on air back in that era with the broadcast of radio programming. The callsigns in use for these program relays were VE9DR and VE9DN.

Drummondville/Yamachiche was in continuous usage for 75 years, and it was finally closed in 2002 when communication by satellite and fibre optic cable became fully available.

South Africa
July 5, 1927
The twin Marconi stations were located at Milnerton and Kliphevel, for communication with England. The receiver station was located at Milnerton, which is these days a suburb of Cape Town, and the transmitter station was located at Kliphevel, 50 km north east of Cape Town.

The old English spelling for the transmitter location was Kliphevel, but these days, the location is given in Afrikaans as Klipheuwel. This station is still in use today under the callsign ZSC.

August 26, 1928
The fourth Beam Wireless Station during that old era was constructed in India, with the transmitter station located at Kirkee in suburban Pune (Poona), and the receiver station some distance away at Dhond. The communicating station in England was the aforementioned facility at Grimsby & Winthorpe.

The Marconi Beam Wireless Station in India was officially opened by Lord Irwin, and the first message from India to England was a greeting of loyalty to His Majesty King George 5. There were two transmitters at this station, both rated at 10 kW, and they were on the air under the callsigns VWY & VWZ.

Beginning in 1940, station VWY was on the air for a period of nearly three years with programming beamed to the Middle East in the French language. This programming was on the air under the title, Radio Francaise Libre d’Orient and it was noted always on the same shortwave channel, 9045 kHz

Dorchester transmitter hall

Hondee (India) transmitters

Grimsby transmitters

Khirkee (India) transmitters

UK transmitting site

2012 - former beam transmitting station at Bodmin, UK

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