Australia - International - AWA.
Coastal Radio Stations.


This page address facilitates access to information about the AWA operation of the Coastal Radio Telegraphy stations. Click on the appropriate link to access the required information:
  1. The origins of the service and its purpose;
  2. Establishing the service;
  3. Management issues and changes;
  4. The Coastal Radio Stations;
  5. Operational details - including T.A.A.;
  6. The AWA Telegraph forms.
    Radiogram forms: Transmission and Delivery;
    Beam Wireless forms: Delivery.

 

1. The origins of the Coastal Radio telegraphy service.

The Sydney Morning Herald of 17 March 1908 reported that "Wireless telegraphic stations are to be erected at Fremantle, Cape York, Port Moresby, Thursday Island and Goode Island". There was no elaboration on that announcement. On 26 December 1908, the Perth Mail gave some insight by reporting that "A few days ago, the second series of tenders for the installation of wireless telegraphy in Australia closed. They have shared the fate of their predecessors, none having been accepted. These tenders were for establishing wireless telegraphic stations on the coast of Victoria and Tasmania, linking up King Island and the Furneaux Group".

In 1909, the House of Representatives resolved that wireless telegraphic stations should be established around the coasts of Australia and that merchant ships should be equipped with wireless installations to:

Other uses envisaged were the reception and transmission of private messages, weather and storm warnings, navigation warnings and medical advice from medical authorities on the mainland to ships not carrying doctors.

In the Budget brought down in the House by the Treasurer Sir John Forrest in August 1909, a sum of £10,000 was put on the estimates for the establishment of wireless telegraphic stations.

On 18 March, 1910, in the run up to an election, Mr. W. N. Hedges, the sitting Member for Fremantle, addressed a large gathering in Midland Junction, W.A. The Perth Sunday Times of 26 March reported one of his statements as follows:

"Another thing was the necessity for the establishment of wireless telegraphic stations all round Australia. When they (the Government) saw, during the past 12 months, how many lives had been saved by the wireless system - and how many more might have been saved - it would be admitted that it was imperative, not only that wireless stations should be established, but that every vessel over which the Commonwealth had had any jurisdiction, should be compelled to install wireless telegraphy".

 

2. Construction commenced for the first two stations.

In 1910, the Government advertised for tenders to construct the first two Coastal Radio Stations - one at Sydney and the other at Fremantle. In April 1910, it was announced that "The tender of the Australasian Wireless Ltd. for the erection of two wireless telegraphic stations at Fremantle and Sydney, at a cost of £4,150 each, has been accepted". The newly formed Sydney-based Company acted in association with Telefunken (Germany) and later also with Marconi. At that time, the relationship with Telefunken was questioned on a number of grounds. On 29 October 1910 (6 months after the first announcement) , the Kalgoorlie Western Mail reported "In answer to Mr. Hedges (W.A.) in the House of Representatives last week, the Postmaster-General stated that the contract for the wireless telegraph stations was in the hands of the Australasian Wireless Ltd., 129 Pitt Street, Sydney who were the local company representing a well-established German company. They had deposited £100 in cash".

The Prime Minister, Mr Hughes, elaborated on this tender in the House on 28 October 1910 by stating "that tenders had been accepted for wireless telegraph stations having ranges of 1,250 nautical miles, to be erected at Sydney and Fremantle and tenders were about to be invited for stations to be erected at Port Moresby and Thursday Island, The question of further stations was receiving close attention".

The Evening News of 14 December 1910 reported "The contract for the erection of a wireless telegraph station at Pennant Hills was signed by the contractors with several alterations which the Postmaster-General refused to accept".

It is interesting to note that it was July 1910 - contemporaneous with the Australian developments - that Mr. Herbert Samuel (Postmaster-General), in introducing the Post Office Estimates in the House of Commons, said "the establishment of wireless telegraphic stations had been fully justified and he hoped to have a ring of these stations around Great Britain soon".

The Australasian Wireless Company and its Telefunken partner had a very significant disagreement with the Marconi Company about possible infringements of Marconi's patents. This disagreement was however just one part of a world wide problem between the two powerful companies. To avoid the dispute affecting the new Australian company, the Government supported the proposal by Fisk to merge the Australian components of Marconi and Telefunken with the Australasian Wireless Company to become Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. (AWA). It was agreed that the new company would take over the other interests and the companies agreed to exchange patents.

As an insight to the problem and the legal context, it is informative to read the report on part of the case which appeared in several newspapers in July 1912.