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. This allowed for the development of an improved Maritime Service in telephony and telegraphy (Morse and telex).
During the mid-1980s most of Rugby Radio Station’s Point-to-Point rhombic (diamond shaped) aerials were replaced with omni-directional aerials. Following this, the 30 kW transmitters were steadily replaced with lower power 8-10 kW versions. Some of these transmitters were recovered from the Ongar Radio Station at in West Essex. A number of these were brand new Marconi H1141 fast-tune transmitters. These greatly enhanced the Maritime Service as they could be tuned to any frequency within the 1.6 MHz to 30 MHz range in just a few seconds.
The Control Centre for the Maritime Service was at Highbridge, near Burnham-on-Sea. The Radio Officers housed there used remote control technology to operate the transmitters at Rugby and the receivers at Somerton. For historic reasons, the long-range Maritime System was always referred to as Portishead Radio.
The demolition of the last masts on Rugby’s ‘B’ Building (DIRFT III) and the ‘A’ Building (SUE) also took place around this time.