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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan, March 7, 2010

The Story of the Temporary BBC Relay Station at Clevedon

Back in the middle of the last century, the BBC in London established three temporary shortwave stations in widely scattered areas in the British Isles. These stations were located at Start Point on the south coast of England, Lisnagarvey in Northern Ireland, and Clevedon on the edge of the Bristol Channel opposite the coast of Wales. On a previous occasion we looked at the shortwave station at Start Point, and on this occasion we investigate the story of the shortwave station at Clevedon. This is what happened.

The small city of Clevedon is located on the Bristol Channel in England, straight across the channel from Cardiff in Wales. The name, Clevedon, is derived from two words in the old Anglo-Saxon language: Cleve, meaning a cleft or an open valley in the hills, and Don meaning hill.

It was at the very beginning of the year 1935 that engineers from the BBC began an extensive search for a suitable site on which to build a medium powered mediumwave station that would fill in for shadow areas in the coverage from other stations already on the air. Two years later, in the month of April, after extensive site tests, a suitable location was chosen.

This new location for a radio broadcasting station was quite close to the coast of the Bristol Channel in a low lying area just ten feet above Mean Sea Level. A single-line railway line ran very close to this property, and the small shelter at the halting stop was moved across to the other side of the line to make way for access to the radio station.

This new radio broadcasting station was inaugurated on June 14, 1939 with a single STC mediumwave transmitter rated at 20 kW. The frequency was 1474 kHz; and the radiating tower stood 350 feet high. The programming service for this new station was the Western Regional Program coming in by landline from Bristol.

However, when the station was less than three months old, it was closed as a security measure, on September 1, 1939. Work began soon afterwards to convert the mediumwave transmitter to shortwave operation as a remote BBC shortwave relay station.

Just one year later, to the very month, this station was re-opened as a shortwave facility with a power output now of just 15 kW. This transmitter was capable of operating on either of two channels, one in the 25 metre band and the other in the 41 metre band. The programming relay was from the BBC European Service, usually in parallel with one or more of the higher powered transmitters at Daventry.

This shortwave service from the converted transmitter at Clevedon was on the air to continental Europe for a period of nearly five years. On June 2, 1945, the station was again closed, this time for re-conversion back to mediumwave operation. During the following year, it was back on the air again, with 20 kW on a new mediumwave channel 1384 kHz.

Very little is known about this BBC broadcasting station during its time of shortwave service. It is known that it operated with 15 kW in the 25 and 41 metre bands, and that it carried the BBC European Service. However, during this era, the callsign system in use by the BBC gave a different three letter callsign to each shortwave channel in use, regardless of the transmitter location.

Thus, it is now unknown just what channels were in use, and what channel callsigns were in use, for the radio broadcasts from the temporary BBC shortwave station located near the small city of Clevedon on the Bristol Channel. And of course, there are no known QSLs verifying the reception of this station.