AWARUA RADIO VLB - ZLB

CHRONOLOGICAL LISTING

This following information is from handwritten records by Lester Price ZL4PO
  • 1908 - Conference held in Melbourne Australia re feasability of a radiotelegraph link from Australia to New Zealand as a parallel system to the existing submarine communications link. A similar link from New Zealand to Fiji was envisaged.
  • 1910 - Tenders called for two N.Z. Government stations, one at Awarua for Australia-New Zealand and one at Awanui for New Zealand-Fiji. Tenders were received from Marconi Co. and Australia Wireless Co which represented Telefunken. Telefunken was the successful tenderer. The cost of the two stations was 25,000.
  • 1913 - Awarua VLB opened on 18th December with A.L.M.Willis as Officer in Charge and Mr E.Dunwoodie the first man on duty. Other officers were G.H.Robins, P.O.Spry and H.Adamson who were under the control of Telegraph Engineer, Mr E.H.Lawn of Invercargill.
    The VLB transmitter was a spark gap type of 50kw and a range of 6000 miles.
  • 1913 - Three cottages built for staff, including one for officers.
  • 1914 - Mr J.M.Davies became Officer in Charge. Kerosene lighting was replaced with a "Wizard" lighting system.
  • 1917 - W.F.C.Whiteman became Officer in Charge and a billiard table was installed in the social room.
  • 1919 - The 'British Official Wireless Press' was first transmitted from Leafield, Oxford. Awarua observed the press but did not copy.
    Awarua was the official standby station for schedules between VMA and Apia, and VLA and Apia in cases of transmitter failure at those stations.
  • 1920 - Returns were furnished to the effect, signals were received from all parts of the world on long wave. Awarua also became an earthquake reporting office.
  • 1921 - Mr L.H.Steel became Officer in Charge.
  • 1925 - Traffic figures for December, 136 received and 30 trasmitted.
    'Sir James Ross' whaling ship sent 263 messages totaling 4044 words through Awarua at a cost of 101 (101 pounds=$202) while in southern waters.
  • 1926 - British Official Wireless Press transmissions were transferred from Leafield, Oxford, to Rugby (GBR) longwave 16 kcs. The transmissions were only observed at Awarua.
  • 1927 - Mr J.Hampton became Officer in Charge. In March the British Official Wireless Press was first copied and transmitted by telegraph to Wellington.
    At an International Radio Convention in Washington, New Zealand was allocated calligns in the sequence ZKA-ZMZ. This resulted in Awarua VLB becoming ZLB instead. (This was the second change in callsigns as prior to 1913 there were Auckland - NZK, Awanui - NZA, Wellington - NZW and Bluff - unallocated.
  • 1929 - Mr A.W.Head became Officer in Charge. Awarua monitored radiotelephone tests between UK and Australia and records show signals were better at Awarua than Sydney. Awarua also monitored American station W2XAW Schenectady for the General Electric Company and continued to do so in 1930.
  • 1930 - Spark transmitter dismantled and replaced with a valve transmitter - frequency 500 kc/s (kHz). Trans-Tasman radio service from Wellington was first tested - Awarua monitored this circuit. Awarua assisted the Ross Sea whaling fleet with traffic to Bergen Radio Norway.
  • 1931 - Halfmoon Bay (ZLO) opened for communication with Awarua on 500 kc/s.
  • 1932 - Halfmoon Bay (ZLO) closed due to installation of cable. Communication opened with Milford Sound - Empire Broadcasting Service monitored daily and returns sent to Head Office.
  • 1935 - Epidemiological Bulletins were copied from Saigon and Salabar. Awarua monitored Kingsford Smith's 'Southern Cross' flights - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Kingsford_Smith.
  • 1937 - Communication made with Jackson's Bay (Southland West Coast) and the SLT service was introduced.
  • 1938 - Empire Broadcast Service monitoring ceased. House for Awarua Superintendent was completed and first occupant was Mr Head. The 410 ft steel mast was lowered (see photograph) and replaced by 3 x 150ft steel towers.
    Meteorological balloon service was introduced for wind observations - initial observer was J.J.Hughes.
  • 1939 - H.F.D.F. No.1 opened for supplying bearings to Trans-Tasman flying boat service in conjunction with Auckland (ZLF).
    Centre Island (RFP) service opened on 500 kc/s. Naval services commenced and staff numbers increased. All coast radio stations came under control of Radio Division, Superintendents became District Controlling Officers.
  • 1940 - The first 'Mechanician' C.Taylor was permanently appointed to station, rigging work was performed by Lines Staff, Invercargill. New receiving station opened. Those responsible for technical installation at new station were P.Suckling, Engineer, and J.G.Hogan, Technician. Further staff increases in 1940 due to additional naval services. BBC Advance Programme copied.
  • 1941 - Coast watching service commenced; officers recruited from N.Z. coast stations. Auckland Island & Campbell Island commenced communication with this station. Further naval services introduced and staff increased considerably. Dog Island commenced on radiotelephone. 16 room dormitory erected for single officers.
  • 1943 - H.F.D.F. No.2 opened for naval services. H.F.D.F. and staff transferred from Taieri Aeradio and serviced commenced. BBC Advanced Programme ceased. Additional 8 rooms added to dormitory.
  • 1944 - Weather broadcasts commenced on radio telephone circuit 1840kc/s (kHz). Full time meteorology observer begins - first observer was L.A.C.Hay.
  • 1945 - Superintendent A.W.Head retires and was replaced by L.G.Emens. Canterbury snowstorm interrupts all landline communication south of Christchurch. Awarua passes traffic with Auckland, Wellington and other emergency stations (see 1945 Main Room photo taken during snowstorm event).
  • 1946 - Peace time again and area scheme of traffic disposal introduced. Official transport introduced from Invercargill.
  • 1947 - L.G.Emens promoted to Superintendent Auckland Radio - W.A.Wallace appointed Superintendent Awarua Radio.
  • 1948 - Port Pegasus ZLHS radiotelephone office opened on 2182 kc/s (kHz). 6 additional residences were built for staff. Meteorology services transferred to Invercargill airport.
  • 1949 - Aircraft public radio-telegraph correspondence begins, and Awarua accepts traffic from aircraft.
  • 1950 - Recommencement of copying Epidemiological bulletins from Geneva.
  • 1951 - Campbell Island and Kermadec Island now manned by C.A.A. and communication by r/t with Wellington.
  • 1952 - Macquarie Island VJM commences. Government approves development of station grounds and surrounding land as a farm, due to efforts of W.A.Wallace through M.P. for Awarua, G.R.Herron.
  • 1953 - Three additional residences built for staff.
  • 1954 - Mr W.A.Wallace retired and replaced by J.Houlihan.
  • 1955 - Land End Radio logged on 2182 kc/s QSA 3/4. Farm managers house built. J.U.Bonisch replaces J.Houlihan as Senior Supervisor.
  • 1956 - Scott Base (Antarctica) opened and comminucation established with Awarua.
  • 1957 - I.G.Y. team installed at Awarua.
    J.U.Bonisch promoted to Superintendent, Auckland Radio. P.J.Columb promoted to Senior Supervisor Awarua Radio. Daily communication with Hallett Station (Antarctica) commenced.
  • 1958 - J.Houlihan retired and was replaced by J.U.Bonisch. Farm management taken over by Lands & Survey Department. Radio-telephone service between Milford Sound and Awarua linked with toll system. A.H.Greaney retired.
  • 1959 - Epidemiological Bulletin Service ceased, as did communication with Hallett Station.
  • 1961 - Ceased copying the London Press Service (formerly known as British Official Wireless Press).
  • 1963 - The Doubtful Sound - Awarua circuit opened.
  • 1964 - Telefunken M.F.D.F. sets installed - in effective and later dismantled. Main M.F.D.F. service discontinued and also dismantled.
  • 1965 - HF 22Mcs (MHz) listening watch commenced, hours were 8am - 6pm. J.U.Bonisch Superintendent deceased, replaced by J.B.Dolan.
  • 1967 - Scott Base circuit to Awarua was closed and opened direct to Wellington. J.R.Bell retired. Creed (teleprinter) circuit between coast stations in operation. Emergency stations to be converted to SSB (single side band).
  • 1968 - N.C.Pawley retired. Continuous headphone watch on 2182 kc/s introduced. Awarua's transmitting frequencies changed on 8 Mc/s to 8504 kc/s and 12 Mc/s to 12740 kc/s.
  • 1969 - H.F.D.F. No.2 now property of N.Z.P.O.
    Tape recorders installed and being run continuously on 2182 kc/s. New Zealand and Austraila withdraw from area scheme on 1st October 1969. Staff establishment 28 10/40. New Collins receivers installed for 2182 kc/s to enable SSB working. P.J.Columb (Superintendent of ZLD) deceased. December traffic increase of 30% noted.
  • 1970 - Sandra Mathews, first female technician, was employed. An additional farm residence was completed and a bus shelter on Bluff Road provided. Staff establishment increased to 29 10/40. ZLG/Haast ceased w/t working and changed to telephone working.
  • 1971 - ZMV/Milford Sound landline completed, r/t retained as emergency link. Ellie Ellenden retired in January. Gentex operational 21 May (See interesting site which mentions Gentex at http://wildland.owdjim.gen.nz/?cat=12).
    J.F.Ryan took up as Superintendent on 24th May. The position was regraded to Class Special 3 on 1st April, and Senior Supervisor Class Special 1.
  • 1972 - September, the area commercial QSP system ceased, through being unacceptable on defence communications network. Overseas traffic now routed through commercial cable systems.
  • 1973 - 16 MHz watch opened 0880 to 1800 hours NZST.On 16th July ZLW discontinued HF broadcasting of outward traffic. All HF traffic (inward & outward) now centred at ZLB.
  • 1974 - February J.F.Ryan, Superintendent, transferred to P.O.H.Q. In March H.J.Milne (Ex ZLD) was appointed Superintendent. On 1st April designation of Superintendent changed to Manager. In May ZLB opened up a request service on 4 & 6 MHz. In June H.J.Milne retired, and was replaced by C.A.Glennie. September saw a new 'Small Ships' room added with a new table designed and constructed locally. Also in September R.N.McVicar (Superintendent at ZLD) was appointed Senior Supervisor at Awarua, but in October he declined. In October the nightly 8 MHz sked with KFS ceased, rendered unnecessary by telex facilities.
  • 1974 - ZLB had operating teleprinters to ZLO, ZLW, Gentex, & Telex (installed for Schmitt Ocean Towage, Rotterdam, who were engaged in tug work with Penrod 2 oil drilling rig).
  • 1975 - On 28th January fifth supervisors position was approved, and in July third operating unit for leave relief approved. July 31st VJM Macquarie Island CW meteorological skeds discontinued when Australians installed teleprinters.
    From 1st May to 30 September 4 MHz HF watch opened 0700-1900 GMT daily and 12 MHz closed at these times. On October 28 Malinhead Radio (51N - 19W) heard working a distress on 2182 kHz. November 6th daily sked at 1130 with VJS discontinued. Penrod 2 now drilling in Foveaux Strait, rig working r/t for Met traffic.
  • 1976 - Suspicion and alarm generated in coast stations at proposal by Director of Radio Services that coast stations transfer control to CPMs. J.T.Dudley appointed Manager in September. Takeover bid by CPM fails and proposal dropped in October. P.J.Collett appointed Senior Supervisor in November.
  • 1977 - Managers seminar held in Wellington in March. 1st June spot frequency calling began on HF, but due to lack of proper equipment common channels only guarded. In November ceiling was lowered, carpet laid and new filtered fluorescent lighting added. On 11th November HFDF facility was withdrawn and Adcock DF sent to museum. In December the old iron horse autokeyer was sent to museum and replaced with new Model 750 teleprinter/morse converter autokeyer, all electronic.
  • 1978 - On 1st January, speaker watch commenced on 4125 kHz. Codan fixed-tune receivers located in the back room for 2162, 2182, 2196 and 4125, 4143.6, 4414 kHz. In March a telephone service was introduced to Dog Island, and weather reports now passed by this medium. Female toilets were added to the retiring room.
  • 1979 - The Post Office gentex network changed from tape machines to page printers. In February, Centre Island was linked to the mainland by telephone. Direct circuit to Wellington was no longer necessary, traffic passed via the gentex network. Direct circuit now to Kelburn Weather Office. Later in the year Eddystone digital receivers replaced the Philips, in use since 1956. J.K.(Bill) Riley retired 24th December.
  • 1980 - The technicians moved from the station to Radio Depot in Invercargill 3rd May. Leigh Hattan, (ex Navy) our first female operator began 14 May. Awarua Radio had its first direct teleprinter contact with a ship at sea via satellite to Forum New Zealand/ZFEV, 18 May.
  • 1981 - George R.Edlin retired 2nd April. Technics headphones replaced Telex type in September. James T. Dudley retired 30th September. Lester J. Price (Supervisor) appointed Manager ZLC in October, and in November P.J.(Joe) Collett appointed Manager Awarua Radio, and C.R.(Dick) Bennett Senior Supervisor.
  • 1982 - VDU installed as our terminal to the AFTN network 19th May. HF telex introduced at Wellington Radio on 1st November. Scan units introduced to HF on 29th December.
  • 1983 - In January C.R.(Dick) Bennett transferred to Instructor, Radio Training School. Paul D. Burke (Radio Operator) appointed Senior Supervisor 31st March. New wooden tables installed on HF watches and 500 in July. Creed teleprinters replaced by Olivetti JE 300's in August.
  • 1984 - Cyril W.Burke completed 29 years at ZLB, retiring 29th March. Wm. O. Eales long awaited retirement happened 12th July. Philip Twyman ZLD (ZLB 27-10-1981 ~ 5-1982) Passed away, 15 September.
  • 1985-1986
    # P.J. Collett (Joe) retired 4th May.
    # Lester F. Price appointed Manager 16th July.
    # Sagem teleprinters introduced 18th September.
    # Paul D.Burke appointed Manager, Chatham Islands Radio (ZLC), 16th October.
    # Electronic Air Cleaner installed in main office, December.
    # Brick front entrance to Station built by Peter King, Bricklayer, during December 1985, to Jan 86. Lights erected on pillar June 86.
    # Brass sign plate scheduled for July 86.
    # Front entrance cleaned up by MOWD subcontracted November 1985 & to be replanted in shrubs 1986.
    Old shelter belt from station to hostel (about 500 metres) delimbed by contractor in September 1985, and a new fence line to the rear of this was erected in February 1986. A new Pinus Radiata shelter belt is planned to be planted in July 1986.
    # All three 30,000 gals fire ponds were cleaned out for first time by ditching contractor Bill McEwan of Invercargill during July 86. New fences to be erected around these in August 86 by fencing contractor Malcolm Wright of Kennington.
    # Approx 1.5km of discharge drain also cleaned out at the same time.
    # Station Master clock retired on 9th April 1986,and new solid state quartz master clock installed by PO Electricians to drive the existing slave clocks.
    # Old retiring room partitioned off by BMB during May 1986, and made into office for Senior Supervisor & as a meeting & interview room for Management & staff.
    # New carpet laid in Manager's office and new office next door June 1986.
    # New Senior Supervisor: N.W.Chesney, appointed 11th Feb 1986.
    # New Supervisor B.J.Simpson appointed 1st March 1986.
    # Individual lines to station houses put in about April 1986 to provide individual telephone service, although some residents opted to remain on the station PABX. STD cutover for Invercargill area was at 9.30pm, Friday 14th March 1986.
    # The Mason/Morris report on PO services was released on poor unsuspecting PO employees on 1st May 1986. This review proposes many changes to the PO business: Postal, Banking, & Telecommunications.
    # Proposal to substantially renovate the Receiving Office store/kitchen & male toilet area plus provide lean to garage for the PO work van (Mitsubishi L300) released to Property division June 1986 for financial authorisation to proceed with the work 1988/89.


I believe that Awarua closed down on 30 August 1991
(B-In March/April 2002 article by the late Frank Barlow ZL2NB)
Alan ZL4PZ