South Coast Amateurs of Yesteryear – John Heys G3BDQ

Whilst leafing some otf my ancient radio maqazines recently, I came across the following item in an issue of Popular Wireless. The magazine was dated July 13th 1935 and under the section headed Radio notes and News on the first page were the words “South coast Amateurs”. Here is the full text of the piece:-

“South coast listeners are asked to give ear to Hastings ‘1066 and all that ‘ on Sunday evenings at 6.30, 7.00, and 7.30. At these times special modulation experiments will be tried from G5BS on 160 metres, and the Hastings and St. Leonards Radio Society would like to know how they are received.

A recent 5 metre field day proved disappointing, but work is proceeding at the society’s new headquarters, and it is hoped to start regular test sched. soon from G6HH on various wavelengths.”

So little is known or documented about the prewar Hastings Society and there seems to be no one around who was actually a member of that group. The time gap between its closure in 1939 and the ‘new ‘ club in 1950 / 51 although just a few years was very wide in some respects. I have a feeling that many of the original members left the town during the war or were perhaps killed during the hostilities. The bombing here was very destructive and lethal to many of the local inhabitants who had decided to stay put.

The G5BS call sign is intriguing and I began to research my old call books and logs. The Post Office often reissued call signs before the war and a call could change hands two or three times in as many years. This makes life difficult for radio amateur historians. Fortunately I remembered working ‘Pim’ Bradley several times, and actually meeting that gentleman in Folkstone at an RSGB Regional meeting in the 5O’S. ‘Pim’ then held the call sign G5BS although for a short time he was licensed as G2AX. Here are some facts. G2AX was held up to 1925 by a Mr G Sutton of Dulwich. For a while it was not reissued, then during 1926 it became the property of C.S.(”Pim”) Bradley. For some reason Pim gave up his license in the late 20’s or early 30’s and G2AX was issued to Norman Blackburne (first in Hastings and later in Bexhill) a good friend of our former President ‘Tommy’ G6QB (Howard Thomas). Norman held the call until his untimely death in the late 50’s or early 60’s. Pim Bradley was re-licensed in the 30’s and was issued with the call G5BS. He must have then lived in or near Hastings, but after the war he lived near Maidstone. Later still around 1955 he moved to a period house in the High street at Hythe. This was his final QTH from where he was worked on many Sunday mornings by the local 160 metre AM net. (The path is very good by the way for I well remember using a 3 watt rig on the sea front at Folkstone with a centre loaded 3 ft. mobile antenna and getting S9 reports from John G3HRI in Hastings).

Pim Bradley (real name Clemence) was one of the first people to broadcast from G2LO. On October 3rd 1922 his baritone voice rendered “Sea Fever” and “Sparkling Eyes” to a small but enthusiastic band of listeners. Authors sometimes get things wrong. Dear old Clarry (the late G6CL) in his book “World at their Fingertips” mistakenly stated that Pim was G2AX from 1926 up to the time of his death in Italy in 1962.

I just wonder what those “ modulation experiments “ were all about.

John Heys – G3BDQ. January 1993.

Return to the index of Vital Spark articles or you may like to look at a selection of John Hey’s interesting and quite rare QSL cards.

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