Text from Ian Rhodes accompanying the RAF Weyhill Photos
Well it wasn’t the greatest role ever but I was lucky to gain a couple of stripes whilst there and so had fair responsibility.
The station was run by a Warrant officer Monday to Friday and at weekends either myself or another corporal would be in charge. I also had the dubious honour of driving the truck you see in the photograph as most of the time we went down to Andover camp to get our meals.
The night shift and weekend shift slept at the site but the rest of us lived at the Andover airfield accommodation although in the traditional way the forces work we were actually “stationed” at Weyhill. There were two civilian workers in the transmitter hall and two civilians looking after the diesel generator 24 hours a day on a shift basis.
Basically our work was to ensure that transmitters were kept in working order. It was the days when the valves in output stages of the transmitters were water cooled, which occasionally resulted in spectacular failure. Mind you, unlike now, you could see when the valves were not alight – an easy fault to sort out.
There was a considerable amount of filling in of logs on each transmitter as every thing was well metered trying to keep ahead of any possible failures.
There was a demand from both RAF and naval stations for transmitters to be brought up on a particular frequency, which involved a reasonable amount of time and effort. Unlike the modern day coils were made up of copper piping which looked more like a plumbing job than a transmitter coil. Quite often these changes of frequency happened in the middle of the night – thus the reason for the night shift.
I well remember that in the switch room there were large three phase breakers and a huge array of wet cell batteries for keeping the telephone communications going in case of power loss.
There was a small kitchen area and a “bedroom” for the Warrant officer.
Being small in terms of numbers it was a very friendly place to work and I have always been indebted to the RAF for my training as when I left I joined the BBC engineering research department.
Previous to the RAF, like many young persons, I didn’t really know where I was going in life but after nine months at RAF wireless school I had a definite objective.
Weyhill was an outstation of the central signals area at Stanbridge, Leighton Buzzard and that was basically the “home” station of all staff. Stanbridge was quite a place, with a large number of personnel manning the central phone system which handled 20,000 calls a day and a cipher section with mercury cipher machines (basically a very sophisticated update of the Enigma machine). I’m sure it’s all changed now.
19th December 2010