North of the Stone Wall - The Radio Scene in Scotland
the middle of September, Scotland held a referendum to determine its future,
and the two way choice was either to remain with England as an integral part of
the United Kingdom, or to become independent as a separate country. Because of this referendum and its widespread
implications, we interrupt the normal flow of topics here in Wavescan, and
instead we present a new topic under the title “North of the
Stone Wall: The Radio Scene in Scotland”.
However, as we are now aware, the referendum revealed by a wider margin
than expected that Scotland will remain an integral part of the United Kingdom.
best known stone wall in the world is the Great Wall of China which astronauts
tell us is visible from outer space.
This great wall in Asia was constructed in an attempt to prevent
invasions into China proper from tribal territories to the north.
a lesser known, though surely an equally important wall as far as the ancient
peoples were concerned, is Hadrian’s Wall which is located in the far
north of England. This wall was
constructed in an attempt to prevent incursions from clan peoples living to the
Wall is located entirely in England, just south of the border with Scotland and
it stretches across England from coast to coast, a distance of 73 miles. On the west end, the wall is less than a mile
from the border with Scotland, though on the east end, it is nearly 70 miles
from the border.
Wall was named in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian who visited England at the
time of its construction which took six years to complete, in the year 122
AD. The wall was manned by nearly 10,000
personnel made up of both Roman occupation forces as well as local British
encyclopedia informs us that the territory of Scotland covers the northern
third of the island of Great Britain as well as nearly 800 nearby islands. It shares a common border with England that
is just 60 miles across, otherwise Scotland is surrounded by the two pounding
bodies of water; the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. Their largest city is Glasgow with more than
half a million, and their capital is Edinburgh with a little less than half a
million. Their total population of the
while country stands at around 5¼million.
history is rich and long and it goes way back to the earliest known human
settlements. Their written history began
with the invasions of the Roman legions in England around the year 80 AD. In those days, Scotland was known as
Caledonia. In subsequent eras, Scotland
was ruled by a succession of regional and national monarchs, until unity with
England began under the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1502.
Scotland recognizes three languages: English, Scots and Gaelic. The standard English is equivalent to British
English; Scots as a language could be described as a dialectal version of old
English; and Gaelic is an earlier Celtic language in the British Isles, linked
to similar languages in Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany in France.
English pound is the recognized currency in Scotland, though three different
banks in Scotland also issue Scottish currency at the same value.
most popular outdoor sport, golf, was developed in Scotland. It was a variation of a similar game called
paganica that was played by Roman soldiers on duty over there two thousand
years ago. In the original paganica, the
players used a curved stick to hit a leather ball stuffed with feathers or
May 6, 1905, the Argyllshire Herald newspaper carried a report that
negotiations were underway for the lease of a field on which a wireless station
would be built. A total of 6 acres at
Uisead Point Machrihanish Bay was procured from Captain MacNeal, sufficient land
for a wireless station with its associated buildings for transmission
equipment, a power generator, personnel accommodation, and of course the tall
transmitting tower as well. This
wireless station was located on a narrow peninsula on the west coast of Scotland,some
60 miles southwest of Glasgow.
Machrihanish Wireless Station was constructed for Canadian born Professor
Reginald Fessenden of the National Electric Signalling Company and it was
intended for mutual communication with a similar station at Brant Rock in
coastal Massachusetts in the United States.
The wireless mast reached 450 feet high, it incorporated an internal
ladder for full length access, it stood on an insulated base, and guy wires
held it in position.
December 1905, the Campbelltown Courier newspaper carried a report that work on
the station was completed, and in January of the next year, transatlantic
communication began in Morse Code between Machrihanish (callsign LK) and Brant
Rock (callsign BO). Spasmodic
communication was achieved, sometimes at a surprisingly good level, throughout
the following year. Interestingly, the
Chief Operator at the station in Scotland, Mr Armour, reported in a letter to a
scientist that he heard voice transmissions from Brant Rock at 4:00 am one
morning in November (1906).
on December 5 of that same year 1906, a stormy gale hit the coast and felled
the tall wireless mast. Though no one
was hurt, the station was never re-established; instead, the equipment was sold
off and the staff dispersed.
that is not the end of the wireless scene in Scotland; instead, it was just the
During that same year, 1906, the Marconi
company was awarded a contract for the installation of two wireless stations in
Scotland, one at Tobermory and another at Loch Boisdale. The Tobermory station
was installed on the island of Mull just off
the west coast of the Scottish mainland and it was on the air under the
callsign GCA. The Lochboisdale station
was installed on a small island at the very north of Scotland just off the west
coast, and it was on the air under the callsign GCB.
In the era after the end of World
War 1, the directory lists show a dozen or more wireless stations on the air on
both the mainland and islandic territories of Scotland. These stations were in communication service
with three different organizations; the Royal Navy, the Royal Air force, and
the British Post Office. For example,
the navy operated station BYD at Aberdeen, the air force operated station GFK
at Donibristle, and the General Post Office operated station GSW at Stonehaven.
That’s as far as we go in the Scotland story for
today, and in our programing in two weeks time, we are planning to complete the
story, “North of the