Long Range
in the UK

Early History
Portishead Radio
Wick HF Service
Wick Radio/GKR





HF service

GKR's HF service started in the 1948 as an experimental service - and remained with that status until its close in 1982.

Two 300 watt transmitters capable of transmission in the 4, 6, 8 and 12MHz maritime bands provided the service for it's duration.

The service was primarily aimed at the UK's distant water trawler fleet, working off Iceland, Bear Island, Spitzbergen, the North Cape of Norway, the White Sea, Greenland and Newfoundland. Other vessels were worked from time to time, notably the occasional Soviet vessel coming from the north to the UK.

Northella - callsign GTIW

GKR mainly used 8MHz and 12MHz through each day, with one Radio Officer monitoring each band. In the evening the service dropped to one Radio Officer with 4MHz skeds alternating with skeds on the 1.6MHz service. Where warranted the 6MHz frequency was put into use, although this was rare.

All UK trawler traffic was routed to GKR by the telegraph offices at Hull, Grimsby and Fleetwood. Traffic lists were transmitted every two hours in parallel with the MF traffic list on 432kHz. After each traffic list the 8MHz and 12MHz martiime bands were full of British trawlers, all calling GKR to claim their traffic. On each band the GKR Radio Officers scanned for these calling vessels and built up a QRY list (a queue), following which each vessel was worked in turn.

Arctic Corsair

Each evening a blind broadcast was made of all unclaimed telegrams. Vessels could monitor at this broadcast time and sometimes one vessel would attend to this duty and pass traffic on to other trawlers in it's vicinty. Receipt of these messages (QSL's) was acknowledged later that evening on 1.6 or 4MHz or the following day.

GKR's 300 watts of power was quite adequate in the early days of the service, when a well-equipped ship might have only 150 watts. As the years went on and ship's transmitters grew to 400 watts, 800watts 1kW and even 1.5kW, the GKR lower power level became an embarrasement. Often GKR could hear the trawlers without any trouble at all, but the ship's end was having great problems.

Christmas was a busy time for GKR, with huge numbers of greetings telegrams being transmistted to and from the trawlers. Often there was just too much traffic for the available circuits and additional operational points were set up with the GKR Radio Officers sharing transmitters. Additional transmission frequencies were brought into use at night time by keying transmitters on the MF RT frequencies and listening on 4 or 6 MHz. At the end of the day they always managed to clear the traffic in time for Christmas Day.

Laterly, with the demise of the UK distant water fishing fleet, GKR's hf service became more used by merchant ships who found the service a useful, if occasional, alternative to that provided by GKA.