My local radio club LEFARS (Loughton & Epping Forrest Radio Society) enjoys a great relationship with the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Bishops Waltham in Essex.
Formerly a factory for Gunpowder, established in 1850’s the site went on to manufacture nitro-based explosives and further more to become the Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor Establishment until 1991 when it closed ending 300 years of explosives production and research.
LEFARS has a permanent NOV to operate GB2RGM from the site and has a dedicated radio shack and aerial installation which is used during activations, which take place throughout the year.
Activations tend to be timed to occur during special events either on the RGM calendar or in the ‘radio calendar’. The site having both waterwheels and gunpowder mills, and a light railway, GB2RGM is fired up as part of Mills on the Air and also Railways on the Air and sometime Museums on the Air.
This year the first chance to activate the callsign was for the VE day celebrations over the Mayday Bank Holiday weekend. This event did not take place last year due to uncertainty over the future of the RGM, but this year, the venue enjoying a reprieve and hosted the event once again.
Lefars were invited to set up a display again and put together a collection of classic radios in keeping with the events Military and WW2 theme. Both sections of the LEFARS marquee were set up and a selection of Vintage military and domestic radio equipment was set up on display. Many of the exhibits actually work, and some were used to demonstrate that the technology of the time still works well today.
There were many re-enactors on site, many of whom had a selection of non-working radio sets. Many of us tried to convince them it would be a great idea to at least get their M6 licence and use the things, but hey, we tried!
M0IDF went walkabout with his 38 set which was only putting out 200mw and was designed for fairly local communication. GB2RGM worked him all around the site with fine audio, we were well impressed with the performance of this little radio on what is a really inefficient aerial!
For those people looking to get into the vintage military scene, there were even a few radios up for sale from some of the re-enactors.. check out the final pic..
I will be back at the RGM this weekend for Mills on the Air.