A Friendly Voice on Many a Dark Night
by Larry Bennett
Portishead Radio was the world’s largest long-range maritime radio communications station. Originally located at a site in Devizes, Wiltshire in 1920, the transmitters were relocated to Portishead, near Bristol, shortly after the receiving station was moved to Highbridge, Somerset during the 1920s. The station, originally operated by the British Post Office, provided vital communication links both to and from ships at sea, using Wireless Telegraphy (Morse code), Radiotelephony, and latterly, Radiotelex. The developmental and war years are recounted in detail, as well as the rise (and eventual fall) of commercial maritime radio traffic over 80 years of service. The aeronautical and leisure markets are recalled, as well as other services provided by the station. The station closed in 2000, as satellite technology became the preferred method of ship-to-shore communication. This book gives both a technical and social history of the station; how it worked, what it was like to work there, and fondly recalls many of the stories and characters who became part of the station’s charm. Using many photographs, staff memories and with recently found magazine and newspaper articles, the complete history of this important and much-missed station can be told for the first time.
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