Highbridge maritime radio station

A new book has been published this month telling the incredible history of Highbridge’s maritime radio station.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the UK’s long-range maritime radio service, which started from a site at Devizes in 1920.

To celebrate the anniversary, former radio officer and current Burnham-On-Sea resident Larry Bennett, pictured below, has produced the new book, Portishead Radio: A Friendly Voice On Many A Dark Night, which provides a complete history of the service.

It features the formative years prior to 1920 and the establishment of the Post Office maritime radio station at Devizes, plus the relocation of the transmitter and receiving sites in the 1920s to Portishead and Highbridge respectively.

Larry Bennett author

Larry told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The station and its aerial masts were a familiar landmark in Highbridge, and many local residents will remember attending functions at the social club over the years.”

“The station was the largest maritime radio station in the world, providing vital ship-to-shore links by Morse code, radiotelephone and radiotelex.”

“The war years are covered in depth, together with the construction of the ‘new’ receiving station at Highbridge in 1948.”

“The visit to the station by Her Majesty the Queen in 1958 is featured, and the rapid technological developments in radio communication during the 1950s and 1960s are also explained.”

New book on Portishead maritme radio station in Highbridge launched

“The 1970s saw further expansion, as well as the cessation of the Royal Naval presence at the station, and when the modern new building was opened in 1982 the future of the station seemed assured.”

“Sadly, the development of satellite services spelt the end of the service, and the eventual decline and closure of the station in 2000 is sympathetically noted.”

Larry adds: “The narrative includes recollections of staff members and sea-going Radio Officers, and many photographs, some of which are published for the first time.”

“A chapter on life at the station fondly recalls many of the staff who worked there, as well as recounting many of the humorous – and indeed not so humorous – episodes which made the station such an enjoyable place to work.”

With over 320 pages, the book is priced at £9.99 and is a must-read for anyone with an interest in maritime radio communications and local history.

New book on Portishead maritme radio station in Highbridge launched

It can be ordered through Amazon and other online booksellers, as well as signed copies through the radio station website at www.portisheadradio.co.uk.

Due to current lockdown restrictions preventing sales through local shops, delivery of the book will temporarily be free of charge to addresses in the TA8 and TA9 areas. Ordering details can be obtained directly from the author via portishead.radio@btinternet.com and signed copies will be hand-delivered.

Larry adds: “Although the station has long gone, it remains a well-remembered part of local history as well as being a link with home for thousands of mariners worldwide. It was a friendly voice on many a dark night indeed.”


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