Awarua Radio 1930-1939

1930: Spark transmitter dismantled and replaced with a valve transmitter on 500 kc/s. [However, a newspaper report suggests this did not happen until 1934 or early 1935.] Trans-Tasman radio service from Wellington was first tested – Awarua monitored this circuit. Awarua assisted the Ross Sea whaling fleet with traffic to Bergen Radio Norway.

Staff of Awarua Radio c1930

Staff of Awarua Radio c1930. Standing L-R: Unknown, E Norm Creelman, Sid G Hancox. Seated L-R: WA Wallace, AW ‘Hec’ Head (Superintendent), John Houlihan. Mr Head was Superintendent 1929-1945, Mr Wallace 1947-1954 and Mr Houlihan 1955-1958. Courtesy: Alex Glennie

1931: Halfmoon Bay – ZLO opened for communication with Awarua on 500 kc/s.

1932: Halfmoon Bay – ZLO closed due to installation of cable. Communication opened with Milford Sound – Empire Broadcasting Service monitored daily and returns sent to Head Office.

On duty at the Awarua Radio Station, near Invercargill. An operator listening at the receiving set for distress and other signals from shipping. This set is devoted solely for picking up messages from shipping. Auckland Weekly News, 17 July 1935.

On duty at the Awarua Radio Station, near Invercargill. An operator listening at the receiving set for distress and other signals from shipping. This set is devoted solely for picking up messages from shipping. Auckland Weekly News, 17 July 1935.

1934: Short-wave transmitter installed.

1935: Epidemiological Bulletins were copied from Saigon and Salabar. Awarua monitored Charles Kingsford Smith’s ‘Southern Cross’ flights.

1936 Christmas card from staff of Awarua Radio ZLB

1936 Christmas card from staff of Awarua Radio ZLB. Courtesy Alex Glennie

1937: Communication made with Jackson’s Bay (Southland West Coast) and the SLT service was introduced.

1938: The 394 ft steel mast was felled on 24 March (three years later it was replaced by three 150 ft steel towers). Charles Rillstone, who first worked at Awarua Radio ZLB in 1916, was the engineer in charge of dropping the tower.

The original 394 ft mast at Awarua Radio being felled on 24 March 1938

The original 394 ft mast at Awarua Radio being felled on 24 March 1938

Prior to its demise the mast was climbed in 1937 or 1938 by Winnie Hancock (nee Campbell), Station Housekeeper and perhaps the only female to do so. Radio operator Pat Columb is also said to have have climbed the tower for a bet of £50.

Empire Broadcast Service monitoring ceased. A house for the Awarua Superintendent was completed and the first occupant was Mr Head.

A meteorological balloon service was introduced for wind observations, and the first observer was JJ Hughes.

Awarua Radio staff, 6 Apr 1938

Awarua Radio staff, 6 Apr 1938. Seated L-R: Alec Wallace, Arthur “Hec” Head, Arnold Greaney. Standing L-R: Lou Kelly, J Burt, Fred Broom, James Dolan, Pat Columb, Joe Bell

1939: HF DF No.1 opened for supplying bearings to Trans-Tasman flying boat service in conjunction with Auckland (ZLF). Centre Island (RFP) service opened on 500 kc/s. Naval services commenced and staff numbers increased. All coast radio stations came under control of Radio Division, Superintendents became District Controlling Officers.

» 1940-1949

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