Long Range
in the UK

Early History

Portishead Radio
1927 to war
in the 70's
in the 80's
GKA today
Transmitter Sites



Content researched by
Terry Slack

HISTORY of Portishead Radio
80's computerisation

The advent of satellite communications in the early 1980s had little initial impact, and in 1983 the new control centre was opened, providing new radiotelephone and radiotelegraphy consoles, with automatic radiotelex being installed later that year.

Remotely-controlled receivers and receiving aerials, located at Somerton, were utilised for all services, resulting in the dismantling of the receiving aerials at Highbridge.

The old operating rooms were demolished, creating space for administration offices and stores.

1985 saw the opening of a new aircraft service, providing world-wide 'phone patch' and flight information services. This service proved so popular that many land-based industries based in remote locations in Africa used the 'aero' frequencies, culminating in the opening of the Gateway service, which continues to flourish to this day. Relief agencies, military units, embassies, and industries still use the service, which acts as a lifeline to those located in countries where normal landline links are poor or non-existent.

By the end of the 1980s, satellite communications were making significant inroads into Portishead's traffic figures. It became clear that a severe rationalisation programme was necessary in order for the station to remain viable, which resulted in the closure of the transmitter sites at Leafield and Ongar. The number of operating consoles was reduced in line with the decline in radio traffic, and the number of staff employed fell proportionally.