Portishead Radio GKA



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Portishead Radio GKA

PORTISHEAD RADIO/GKA, the United Kingdom's long range radio station and one of the world's most famous names in the maritime communications field, closed at 1200z on Sunday 30th April 2000.

Located on the Bristol Channel coast, near Burnham on Sea and Highbridge in Somerset, PortisheadRadio, BT's long-range maritime communications station, had provided radio communications to ships since 1920. Originally located at Devizes, Wiltshire, the station moved to its Burnham on Sea/Highbridge site in 1924.

The transmitter site at Portishead, near Bristol, opened in 1927. Although the tranmsitting site at Portishead closed in 1978, the radio station retained the Portishead name and was one of the most famous maritime radio station in the world.

The highly-qualified and experienced staff were well used to handling calls and messages from all types of craft, ranging from the large Royal Naval aircraft carriers to the smallest yacht.

From the early days of yacht racing in the 1960's, Portishead Radio provided a valuable service to the leisure market. Portishead Radio was the recipient of the 1995 RYA Service to industry award, in recognition of its services to the leisure market..

For the maritime industry, Portishead provided radiotelegraphy (morse code), radiotelephony and radioteleprinter services using high power HF transmitters and directional receiving systems. A full 24-hour message delivery service is provided, including an 'Emergency Contact Service' for urgent communications.

For the history books, Phonetex/Radiotelephone bookings could be made 24 hours on 0800 378389 while the main switchboard number was 01278 772200. The address for Portishead Radio was BT Radio Station, Portishead Radio, Highbridge, Somerset, TA9 3JY

By 2007 the hallowed ground which once was BT Radio Station Highbridge - better known as Portishead Radio - has been flattened to the ground.

Today a a new housing development stands on the site, named MULHOLLAND PARK after Portishead Radio's former station manager Don Mulholland and his father Robert, who also worked at the station.

The houses of Highbridge and Burnham on Sea, over the years having slowly encroached on the station's once semi-rural location, have now concreted over the historical site of Portishead Radio / GKA once and for all !

Point 43

It was common practice for vessels to arrange 'skeds' with GKA whilst they were in port so that no traffic would be missed.

Any to-ship traffic that came in would be transmitted 'blind' at an agreed time and frequency (normally in the GKG series of transmitters) and the ship would QSL each message once they left port.

Traffic would be broadcast twice then held until the QSL was received from from the ship.

Point 43, where this work was broadcast, was a listed duty at GKA and if there were no skeds then the Radio Officer manning that point would work ships as normal until the next sked time came up.

Hello World at GKA in 1982

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.

Portishead Links


Historical Maritime Radio Stations