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Welcome

In these days of ever-increasing communication and ground-breaking technological leaps forward, it’s hugely important that we keep sight of the achievements of our past; make record of the outstanding advances made by those early pioneers of communication who helped in shaping the world in which we live. Their accomplishments are woven into the history of the area surrounding the RugbyRadio Station urban extension, and this site remembers their accomplishments and celebrates their pioneering spirit.

Welcome

RUGBY RADIO STATION

On Monday 5th March 1923, the British Prime Minister announced that a Government Long Wave Wireless Station, capable of world-wide communication was to be built. Technically (and politically) this was one of the biggest and most important projects the GPO had ever undertaken. Rugby Radio Station would soon be transmitting – and the world would be forever changed.


1926

RUGBY RADIO STATION OPENS / GBR SERVICE STARTS

On Friday 1st January 1926, Rugby Radio Station’s GBR transmitter opened for service… and the story of worldwide communications was forever changed.

Situated at Hillmorton, just a short distance from the town of Rugby… Read More

1927

THE FIRST TRANSATLANTIC TELEPHONE CALL

In the history of communications, Friday 7th January 1927 stands as a hugely significant milestone. It was on this day that Rugby Radio Station’s second long wave transmitter (60 kHz / call-sign ‘GBT’) opened the world’s first telephone service across the Atlantic…Read More

1928

SHORT WAVE TELEPHONY EXPERIMENTS

The Post Office had been experimenting for a while with ‘short wave’ for use on telephony services, when, in 1928, Archibald Gill (later to become Sir Archibald Gill) and his colleagues took over the Handley Cross farmhouse on the Rugby site to continue with the development work on telephony transmitters and directional aerials.

Gill’s team arranged for a short wave transmitter to…

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1938

THE WORLD’S TELEPHONE EXCHANGE

The fact that ‘short wave’ radio telephone circuits required less power and smaller directional aerials led to a reduction in the cost of using the overseas telephone call service and, consequently, a massive increase in demand… Read More

1939-45

WORLD WAR II

On Sunday 3rd September 1939, at 11.15 am, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcast to the nation that a state of war existed between Britain and Germany.

With war declared, all telephone circuits, with the exception of one circuit to the USA, were converted to telegraphy for use by the armed services.

Although the Rugby Radio Station was never actually bombed directly during the conflict, it did suffer two… Read More

1950

MSF TIME SIGNALS

Since 1927, time signals had been transmitted across the world by the GBR 16 kHz transmitter. However, in the late 1940s the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) at Teddington pressed for time signals to be more readily available to people and establishments within this country. It was at this point that the GPO was approached to set up the MSF Time Signal service.

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1950-2007

THE HISTORY OF THE MSF TIME SIGNAL SERVICE

The GBR 16 kHz Time Signal service started in 1927 and ceased operation in the summer of 1986. However, the MSF 60 kHz Time Signal service continued, with many improvements in accuracy made between…

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1955

RUGBY RADIO, AT ITS PEAK
The post-war period saw demand for overseas telephone circuits increase dramatically. Although the Post Office had taken over all British Cable & Wireless Radio Stations in 1950, most of the radio-telephone circuits still came through Rugby...
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1966

THE COLD WAR

By the early 1960s, the Admiralty had sole use (with the exception of the Time Signal service) of the GBR 16 kHz long wave (now called ‘very low frequency’ VLF) transmitter. Apart from its long range, one of the other advantages of VLF transmissions was that they could penetrate deep oceanic waters...Read More

1986

THE CONVERSION OF SHORT WAVE SERVICES FOR MARITIME USE

With the reduction in short wave (high frequency) Point-to-Point services due to the transfer to telephone cables in 195-66, and then the arrival of ‘satellite’ services from 1975 to 1985, spare equipment began to become readily available…

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2000

THE END OF MARITIME SERVICES

By the early 1990s an increasing amount of the Portishead high frequency (short wave) maritime traffic was switching to satellite, causing a considerable reduction in Rugby’s service requirement. This led to all of the remaining services being housed in the ‘B’ Building

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2003

THE GBR VLF SUBMARINE SERVICE CLOSES

In 2003 a new contract for the Royal Navy’s ‘very low frequency’ (VLF) service was won by Babcock International and not BT. So, at midnight on Monday 31st March 2003, the Rugby GBR transmitter finally closed…

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2007

THE END OF RUGBY RADIO STATION

When the MSF 60 kHz Time Signal service moved to the Anthorn Radio Station near Carlisle in April 2007, it brought to an end over 80 years of time signal transmissions from Rugby Radio StationRead More

2014

THE RUGBY COIL AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUM
December 2004 saw BT donating the Rugby Coil (Aerial Tuning Inductor ATI) from the GBR transmitter to the Science Museum. After being carefully dismantled the Rugby Coil was taken to the Science Museum’s Large Object Store at Wroughton, near Swindon...

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