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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, November 28, 2010

Beam Wireless Worldwide - The Original Stations

On previous occasions here in Wavescan, we have presented the story of several Beam Wireless Stations in England back in the 1920s and 1930s. These shortwave stations were located at ten different sites in England, including the major Beam Wireless Station at Rugby which was located in the center of the widest part of the English island.

However, each one of these Beam Wireless Stations in England corresponded on shortwave with another Beam Wireless Station in another part of the world. The original intent was for the construction of nine of these stations in nine different countries. However, as time went by, the list of projected stations was dropped down to six, and as it happened, only four were actually constructed.

In our program today, we take a look at each of these other worldwide Beam Wireless Stations in different countries in the chronological order in which they came into service.

We go first to Canada, where we find that their new Beam Wireless Station was opened for shortwave communication with England on October 25, 1926. The Canadian transmitter station was located at Drummondville Quebec, 30 miles east of Montreal; and the receiver station was located at Yamachiche, 25 miles 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 Durmmondville 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.

The Canadian Marconi shortwave station at Drummondville and Yamachiche was in continuous usage for 3/4 of a century, and it was finally closed in 2002 when communication by satellite and fibre optic cable became fully available.

The next country to activate a Beam Wireless Station was Australia, and their shortwave communication service was inaugurated at twin locations in Victoria on April 8 in the following year, 1927. The receiver station was located at Rockbank on the western edge of the state capital, Melbourne; and the transmitter station was located at Ballan, 35 mile west of Melbourne.

There were two shortwave transmitters at the AWA shortwave station near Ballan. These were rated at 20 kW each and they were on the air under the callsigns VIY and VIZ. It is also remembered that back in the 1930s, transmitter VIY carried a relay of the programming on shortwave for VK3ME, and also for the mediumwave station 3LO.

The Australian Beam Wireless Station at Rockbank and Ballan communicated with the British Beam Wireless Station located at Grimsby and Winthorpe. The Australian station was closed in 1969.

Down under in South Africa, the twin Marconi stations were located at Milnerton and Kliphevel, and the shortwave communication service with England was opened on July 5, 1927. The receiver station was located at Milnerton, which is these days a suburb of Cape Town; and the transmitter station was located at Kliphevel, 35 miles 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.

The 4th 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 shortwave service to England was officially opened on August 26, 1928 and the communicating station in England was the aforementioned facility at Grimsby and 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 V. There were two transmitters at this station, both rated at 10 kW, and they were on the air under the callsigns VWY and 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.

Now, that's the story of the four Beam Wireless Stations that were constructed by the Marconi company in four different countries for communication with England; Canada, Australia, South Africa and India. However, the British Wireless Commission recommended that a 5th station should be constructed in Australia, and according to the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper in the United States, the suggested location was at Canberra, the national capital.

However, in Australia, it was considered that the two AWA shortwave stations already on the air, Rockbank/Ballan in Victoria and Pennant Hills/La Perouse in New South Wales, were sufficient for regular communication with England and an additional station at Canberra was therefore not necessary. Interestingly though, a large shortwave station was subsequently constructed near Canberra, and this station also was noted on occasions with radio broadcast programming. But, that's another story for another time, and you will hear about it in a soon coming edition of Wavescan.