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.
By the end of 1992, Rugby ‘A’ Building had officially closed as a transmitter site. It’s clear today that two significant changes were responsible for the demise of the Maritime Service:
1. Ofcom removed the licensing requirement that stated that BT must be responsible
for supplying the Maritime Service, even where it’s not commercially viable for them
to do so.
2. The Marine Distress System moved to satellite. Now, when a ship owner purchased a satellite distress system, a 24-hour watch by Radio Operators was no longer necessary.
The final message sent by the Radio Operators at Burnham-on-Sea and transmitted from Rugby ‘B’ on 30th April 2000 was:
“CQ de GKB2/4/5/6
This is the last broadcast from Portishead Radio. For 81 years we have served the maritime community. We say thank you to those who have supported us and used our Station. We pay tribute to Marconi who made it all possible. His first transmissions across the water were made from nearby here and so started the ‘radio era’. We are proud to have been part of that era. As this historic time in the commercial messaging world comes to a close, the Manager and Radio Officers wish you farewell from Portishead Radio/GKB AR VA”