First trans-global radio transmission to London
From the family sheep station in Shag Valley, East Otago, amateur radio operator Frank Bell sent a groundbreaking Morse code transmission received and replied to by London-based amateur operator Cecil Goyder.
Frank and his older sister Brenda were radio pioneers. Invalided home from the Western Front in 1917, Frank revived a boyhood interest in wireless communication while recuperating. He helped pioneer the use of short radio waves to communicate over long distances, initially through Morse-code telegraphy. He achieved a number of firsts, including New Zealand’s first overseas two-way radio contact with Australia and North America. But it was his radio conversation with London that made world headlines.
When Frank turned his attention to running the family farm, his sister Brenda took over the wireless station, becoming New Zealand’s first female amateur radio operator. In 1927 she was the first New Zealander to contact South Africa by radio. After the Second World War, Brenda Bell moved into professional radio as a writer and broadcaster for Dunedin station 4YA.
Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Frank Holden, for sharing this episode of Sounds Historical via Radio New Zealand. In commemoration of the first radio link between New Zealand and the UK, host Jim Sullivan features a 1964 recording of New Zealand radio pioneers, Frank and Brenda Bell:
(Source: Radio New Zealand)
The first radio link between New Zealand and England took place 90 years ago yesterday and last night it was re-enacted. In 1964 at the time of the 40th anniversary Frank and Brenda Bell recalled the 1924 event which Frank Bell orchestrated from their home in Shag Valley, East Otago. His sister Brenda recalls the historic occasion from her home. The recording was made at Shag Valley to mark the 40th anniversary between Frank and Cecil Goyder of London. Allan Frame and Clive Liddell also recall the event. Then Martin Balch reports from the vents at Shag Valley Station on 18 October 2014. He talks to Mike ZL4OL from Dunedin, Dave Mulder, ZL4DK and Mike Mather ZL2CC from Gisborne. Frank Bells’ great-grandchildren Henry and Lucy re-create the 1924 event by talking to children at Mill Hill School, London.
Below, I have embedded audio players for Part 1 and Part 2 of Sounds Historical. While I would encourage you to listen to the whole show, you’ll find the anniversary recording in Part 2 beginning around 36:00. Enjoy:
I’m a little surprised to discover no articles about Frank or Brenda Bell on Wikipedia (of course, their uncle, Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell is featured).