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Portishead Radio

This takes me back to the days when we had lots of ships all over the world. I recall the Old Man talking to the office on HF from the middle of the Pacific. Portishead Radio was operated by the GPO and was reckoned to be the biggest and best Radio Station in the world.

I worked them once from a Twin Otter flying out to the Western Desert from Cairo (1984). This particular aircraft was fitted with HF although it was not used. Being bored and recalling the frequency 2182Kcs I tuned up the set and called Portishead not really expecting anything. To my astonishment this voice came loud and clear in my head set ” aircraft PH-STG (Dutch Register ) what can I do for you..?) I was flummoxed for a minute and then asked for  a link call  to a friend whose number I remembered. They gave me another frequency and away we went. Never knew who payed for the call.

Categories: General
  1. christinaosborne
    February 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    I’m afraid you will have to amplify for the uninitiated. Was this specifically for ships?
    What for, emergencies? or just communication. does it still exist or gone like so many things. Would it be any use these days with modern communications?

  2. February 6, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Jazz: I remember it well. Not five miles from where i grew up, very wet miles however, across the Severn. Portishead was a fairly busy maritime spot back in those days, lot’s going on in addition to the communications centre.

  3. February 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Low Wattage, yes that was back in the days when this country was worth a damn, with Grammar Schools and Technical Colleges and industry, Before the traitorous Politicians, Trade Unionists and leftists wrecked it.
    When I see Cameron trailing round Europe pleading for a tiny bit of our sovereignty back I could literally cry. something I haven’t done since I was ten.

    Christina, Portishead thrived in the days when we had literally thousands of ships trading worldwide and when radio was the only means of communication, Portishead served ships of all nationalities. Towards the end they dealt with aircraft until more modern means of communication (satellite mainly) took over.
    It amuses me sometimes to imagine what would happen if all the satellites got fried by a sunspot or something. There would have to be crash courses in radio and morse code not to mention navigation. Strangely enough the US Navy has begun resurrecting the use of the sextant and celestial navigation again. Maybe they know something ?

  4. February 6, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Jazz, I really understand your sentiment, I am not so young anymore either and see some achievements of our generation in Germany being flushed away, but I would say by future generations, who want other things and have other values than us. This is just a fact of life and I think it has not as much to do with politics, but with the changes that society has to cope with, we cannot prevent that. I like your radio very much, but still I think the new marina in Portishead is beautiful.

  5. February 6, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I feel sorry for the younger generation who are in for a tough time. In the UK at most of them will never own their own home or have a decent pension, their birthright having been sold out by the politicians.

  6. February 6, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Right about being in for a tough time, I fully agree. Nevertheless I think it is too simple to give the blame only to the politicians. The state does not owe anybody a living, the people who are unable to look after themselves are being looked after better these days than they were when I was young. Don’t you think we should blame the greed of some few oligarchs who cannot get enough and never give anything back to society? The people with the assets, landowners (especially in England) were the one’s who were holding humans as slaves in former times, not the politicians, they abolished slavery. The power is in the hand of the money people not the politicians, they are only the puppets holding the strings together as best as possible and these days they are not even allowed any more to dictate the banks, they make their own rules.

  7. February 7, 2016 at 7:13 am

    FoE, slavery has been pc for millennia, in many if not most cultures. Ditto oligarchy – the rule of the few, which combines wealth with politics. It’s ok to nominate England as the worst offender in the slave trade but not an accurate assessment of the big picture.

  8. February 7, 2016 at 7:37 am

    FoE: the majority of African slaves went to Arabia, not across the Atlantic. The majority of African slaves brought across the Atlantic were taken to Ibero-America. Brazil took at least 40pc alone! The English colonies did not take all that many in comparison. You also fail to acknowledge the grass roots abolitionist movement in Great Britain. By the way, “England” is only one of the four countries in the United Kingdom. Scots, Welshmen and Irish were and continue to be part of the fabric of British life along with the English.

  9. February 7, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Frauohneeigenschaften “…. Nevertheless I think it is too simple to give the blame only to the politicians. The state does not owe anybody a living…”

    Agreed, but the politicians sold out our sovereignty, something for which they had no right or mandate for. In doing so they deprived future generations of something far more valuable than social benefits.
    I’m afraid excessive greed will always be a problem regardless of political system.

  10. February 7, 2016 at 10:13 am

    On re reading the initial post I realised that I’d got the registration wrong PH-STF instead of the correct PH-STG. There was am ‘STF’ on station at Cairo but she didn’t have HF radio. STG and I had a little history together, she had originally been G-BHXG-i.e. British and owned by Loganair in Glasgow where I first flew her. She had been bought off the deHavilland Canada production line and originally intended for another customer, hence had various goodies like full Collins Flight Director and autopilot and of course the HF radio which we never used in Scotland but unfortunately no radar. This aircraft also replaced the Britten Norman Trislander G-BAXD which I flew up and down the Western Isles as Chief (the only) pilot at Loganair Stornoway. Going from the Trislander to the otter was a big step up – internal combustion engine to turboprop. When I joined Schreiner Airways I delivered XG/TG out to Cairo from Maastricht. We flew Athens Cairo in one hop planning to have 20 mins fuel left on arrival…totally illegal but no one was checking.
    Oddly enough I flew ‘XD’ again at Aurigny Air Services in the Channel Islands some time after leaving Egypt. If you follow the link on XG you’ll find that she met with a sticky end in the Pacific near Vanuatu.

    ‘XD’ is the aircraft that I retain a lot of affection for, she was my first (very humble) aviation command and we went through quite a lot together in the year that I flew her in the Western Isles — the weather there is XXXX.

  11. February 7, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Jazz, I like your accounts of your life in aviation. They remind me of the novels I read as a boy, about derring-do adventures in far-off places.

    And I agree – we feel betrayed by politicians. The question is how else can we elect leaders?

  12. February 7, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    I avoid derring do. It’s very overrated.

  13. February 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Janus – I fully agree with you, but my previous comment was never intended to transport the full picture regarding slavery ( we have knowledgeable people like Christopher, who can do that), but rather meant as a very simple and easy to grasp example to give evidence how unscientific it is to consider the two completely separate groups politicians and oligarchs as one group.
    Jazz – when I was talking to Mr Gazoopi on our morning amble to the local market we came to the same conclusion as you “I’m afraid excessive greed will always be a problem regardless of political system”. But therefore I think, Janus has asked the most important question: how else can we (better influence) the election of political leaders! I suppose the upcoming in/out vote is a step in the right direction, but nevertheless with our without Britain in the European Union the political class represented by single countries and the european union supporting or representing the oligarchs in this world will stay there and rather be weakened as a counterpart to economies in America, China, etc, if Britain drops out. This in my mind is the sort of arguments that Mr.Cameron should lay down in front of the british people not this nonsense renegotiation. He still seems to be thinking that the population is mostly stupid. Not a good idea.

  14. christinaosborne
    February 7, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    “It amuses me sometimes to imagine what would happen if all the satellites got fried by a sunspot or something. There would have to be crash courses in radio and morse code not to mention navigation. Strangely enough the US Navy has begun resurrecting the use of the sextant and celestial navigation again. Maybe they know something ?”

    Ain’t that the truth!
    I think it extremely silly of society to rely on any machines to do things for humanity. It has contributed to the general idiocy of the current population. You can include in the above the constant use of cell phones, map reading gismos, calculators etc etc.
    I always made it an absolute rule of thumb that the boy know how to do anything the old fashioned way without a machine. How many now could clothe themselves, feed themselves, warm themselves and build basic machines? Not very many. totally bloody pathetic if and when anything happens to society as we know it.

    An amusing incident at Cwmdu, where I had the cottages with open fires. A young couple rented one for the weekend. I always stocked them with newspaper, dry kindling and logs for them to build a fire. Two hours after check in they turned up back at the Inn covered with soot and in a right pet. The fire didn’t work!
    (The fuck it didn’t! They didn’t know how to light one) We all went back together with new kindling and a couple of sheets of paper, five minutes later a roaring fire. They were in their late twenties and admitted they had never lit a fire in their lives!! What chance such as that surviving dystopia? Another nutter checked out because they didn’t have a cell phone signal in their cottage! Beyond, quite beyond!

    I actually despise and despair that so many are so inept these days, they don’t seem to be able to do anything except whine! These are supposed to be the superior species of this planet? They wouldn’t stand a chance!

  15. February 8, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Christina, you might miss the point, when you say “How many (people) now could build basic machines?” Exactly not everybody feels the need to be able to build basic machines, but as long as there are people like your boy, who you have been taught to do it, others can spend their time with complex machines without being worried that existing knowledge and experience gets lost and in order to do something new or what excites them. Intelligent people need some new challenges and contribute with soemthing that the previous generation couldn’t do. Therefore yes, some things some people can’t do and others they can do better than the previous generation, but all of us together we move forward that way by having new people scarfing in and old people slowly scarving out, this is progress by rebuilding, rearranging and improving a whole network of things and relations….but you are right this creates a huge dependency between the people and comes together with the inherent risks of all sorts like e.g. the famous catch 22 situation, in which we cannot make headway/got stuck, like a mountaineer who has overestimated his ability and goes too far, but has not planned for a potential rescue team in case he cannot come back down the mountain on his own. His fault you could say, stupid you could say and all other names on earth you want him to call. But nevertheless my motto is: we are all responsible adults and need to know what is important to us, live in fear or risk our life by making deadly mistakes ( these are the two extremes at both end of a scale of human behaviour) or always have a fallback, backout or sit at home or whatever. It is a life choice for everyone to make or otherwise to let others or your own lifes circumstances make it on your behalf. Might sound simplistic, but I might write something down properly over the next years or two, interesting subject to understand how people’s minds work.

  16. O Zangado
    February 9, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Jazz – it is a small world. I flew more often than I care to remember between Efate and Espiritu Santo in the nineties and early noughties, so must have been on ‘XG’ many times when she was in Vanair colours.


  17. February 9, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Frauoh…’ “..Christina, you might miss the point…..”

    I doubt it 😉

    Oz, Yes it is a small world. The Twin Otter (DHC6) is still in production albeit by another manufacturer. It was one of my three favourite aircraft BN2/3 Islander/Trislanders ,Twin Otter and DC9.

  18. February 9, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Jazz why? any explanation for your rebuke?

  19. February 9, 2016 at 11:28 am

    frauohneeig, It’s not a rebuke.

  20. February 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    what then? Perhaps I am not as clear in conversations in english as it is not my mother tongue, please enlighten me.

  21. christinaosborne
    February 10, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    frauh, I hate to point out that the boy was doing his PhD in micro electrical mechanical engineering, aka nano technology!

    Some people have the sense to know that it is essential in design terms to understand first principles to extrapolate. People who design technology without understanding basics adequately frequently run into huge problems at prototype manufacture stage. It fails to work, note govt. IT schemes!

    People who cannot garden have no hope of feeding themselves.

    People who cannot build a simple weather proof shelter will die of exposure.

    Interestingly private schools, for which you pay a fortune, insist on teaching children, carpentry, metal work, gardening and animal husbandry. One wonders why, Perhaps they too have missed the point!

  22. February 10, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    Christina, I really think you are missing the point I was making or you don’t want to understand, what I am saying, but here once more: it is wrong, that people who cannot garden have no hope to feed themselves, they can go to a shop and buy themselves what they need and people who are no doctors do not necessarily live shorter or worsethan doctors either!!! We are a community, which is interdependent and multi skilled but no-one can master all skills. The one;’s like in the end my father in law, who thought he does not need others in society will die a horrible death, because everybody realises in the end, that we need each other and loose control, better accept it.

  23. February 10, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    FoE, you will have to study Christina’s style quite carefully to understand her meaning. Sorry, but it’s true.

  24. christinaosborne
    February 11, 2016 at 1:22 am

    Had you read my original comment correctly you would have realised that society does not always function quite so smoothly.
    Turn off the electricity and you are on your own PDQ.
    Dystopia is only a very small distance away, society has become too dependent on technology, gismos and governments.
    How very craven to be so naive and accepting of what society deems appropriate.
    Some of us march to our own drum and thank heavens for that. If they have any sense they will exit this world on their own schedule and not wait for the bogeyman of a ‘horrible death’ That sounds like one of Cameron’s silly threats.

    Let us leave it at that.

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