PORTISHEAD RADIO/GKA, the United Kingdom's long range radio
and one of the world's most famous names
in the maritime
closed at 1200z on Sunday 30th
ending 81 years of service.
The Final Day of Portishead Radio / GKA
On the 30th April 2000 hourly broadcast announcements gave details of the station's final broadcast
In the final hour a "private"
message was heard being broadcast by one of the station's "old
timers". The message read:-
CQ de GKB =
This message is from an R/O who has been
working into and from GKB since 1963
= krs and 73s
= John Hocking +
RadioTelephony Closedown - 1200 GMT
In the run-up to the station's final RadioTelephony broadcast the station's
frequencies were once again being marked by an elderly Post Office
"circuit adjustment" recording specially resurrected to mark the
occasion, something which brought back memories of
yesteryear to many Radio Officers and Post Office Radio Engineers:-
"This is a transmission from the Portishead Terminal of the
Ship's Radio Telephone Service of the British Post Office.
This transmission is for circuit adjustment purposes.
No acknowledgement of this transmission is required, except by users of
the service, at this time."
The final radiotelephony broadcast was made at 1200 GMT, first on 4383,
8764 and 12346kHz and then on 17245, 19755 and 22711khz.
RTT - Radioteleprinter
final RTT broadcast transmitted automatically as 1201z and carried a message identical to that read on radiotelephony and sent on CW.
The Final GKB CW Broadcast
Finally, the sequence of close-down events finished with
a hand-keyed message broadcast on CW on
the stations GKB range of transmitters.
The message read:-
"CQ CQ 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
thankyou to all those who have supported and used our station.
We pay tribute to Marconi who made it all possible.
His first transmissions across water were made from nearby here and so
started the radio era. We are proud to have been part of that
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 + SK
The signal SK indicates end of sending - in the Amateur Radio world it also stands for Silent Key., used when a Radio Amateur dies, never to be heard on air again.
Portishead Radio Closedown Video
The video below is a personal recording by a staff member who capured the activity around the station on the day of the closedown of Portishead Radio.
Amateur Radio Special Event
On Saturday 29th April 2000 from 0700z to 1900z a special once-only and CW-only Amateur
Radio event took place with cross-band communications between the
Amateur stations and Portishead.
With Portishead Radio using it's
multi-kilowatt transmitters at Rugby and it's remote receiving array
at Somerton, the station's Radio Officers at Burnham gave Radio Amateurs,
sitting in the comfort of their own radio shacks, the chance to communicate
directly with GKA before the station's transmitters fell silent for
the final time.
The frequency arrangements for this events were as follows:-
Portishead Radio Callsign
+or- 5 kHz
Three stations operated at any one
time, subject to the commercial requirements of the station, and special
efforts were made to beam towards Commonwealth countries at appropriate
BT appointed the Radio Officers
Association to handle the amateur side of this operation and the liaison
officer was David Barlow G3PLE. All QSO's received a QSL card
via the RSGB bureau.