1953: Himatangi sends Queen’s Christmas message to world

Manawatu Herald, 31 Dec 1953, p1

Queen Elizabeth delivers her 1953 Christmas message
Queen Elizabeth II delivers her 1953 Christmas message from Government House in Auckland, for relay to London via Himatangi Radio

Himatangi Radio Sends Her Voice Around The World
‘A Job Well Done,’ says Chief P&T Engineer

Everyone was on “qui vive” at Himatangi Radio Station on Christmas Eve for the history-making event: the transmission of the Queen’s Christmas message to the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Additional staff was on hand for the occasion and everyone anxiously awaited the zero hour of 9pm. Chief of Staff Jack Hogan checked and rechecked the plans. No risk could be taken and nothing was left to chance. Not taking any chance of a fluctuation in hydro power, the four diesel engines of the station’s stand-by plant were brought into operation as the time for the broadcast drew near. They provide more than three times the power required to operate the station for such a broadcast with no risk of fluctuation. The station became a self-contained unit.

On duty besides Mr Hogan were Messrs SM Thompson, GT Campbell, LA Tatton, NH Carwell-Cooke, IR Sutherland, JA Morgan, RC White, FL Edgerton and WF Murray. All were within the station with the exception of one man who was stationed in a truck with a powerful spotlight trained on the aerial switches well away from the building but, equipped with a ‘walkie-talkie’ set, he could have been in immediate touch with his chief.

Thus the stage was set for the big event and it came and went with astonishing speed. The message was received right on time and Himatangi Radio had the pleasure and distinction of handling the transmission satisfactorily the first time over. The speech took twenty minutes to transmit to London and it was recorded and broadcast at the same time.

The BBC and the General Post Office, London, both acknowledged that a good recording had been made in London of the Queen’s speech and there was no need for repetition.

“Instead of having to stand by possibly until the small hours of the morning the additional staff was all off duty by 10 pm,” said Mr Hogan when interviewed. “Only the staff required to handle the normal requirements of the station was retained. This was very gratifying for the men who had foregone any form of Christmas celebrations until after the broadcast was completed. Everything went well but we had our moments,” he added. “Just prior to the broadcast one of our diesels blew a gasket in a cylinder head cooling system and another also developed a fault. Nevertheless we had ample power available when the time arrived. The staff is now looking forward to the New Year when it is intended to have a triple celebration: Christmas, New Year and the success of the broadcast.”

Mr Hogan has received the following telegram from the Postmaster General (Mr PN Cryer): “My personal thanks to you and your staff for your contribution to the success of the broadcast of Her Majesty’s Christmas message.”

The Chief Engineer of the Post and Telegraph Department (Mr EHR Green) also sent a wire of congratulations “for an excellent job well organised and well done.”

Mr Hogan and his staff are justly proud of their equipment and the opportunity of broadcasting the Queen’s Christmas message and Foxton congratulates the station on the honour it has won as a result of its efforts.

Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability.