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Penrith Outstation

Directorate of Telecommunications
Cumbrian Memories (1973)

I joined the Home Office in 1968 as a Wireless Mechanic (WM) after serving about 2 years at RAF Carlisle (No:14 MU) and gained a whole 4 in wages! Which was soon eaten up by bus fares, no car in those days!

I understand I was the first "outstationed" W.M. in the department.

After a year or so, I decided to attend our local collage and gain at least some "paper"

I gained my City & Guilds and went to Kippax Maintenance Unit (MU) as a Wireless Technicain (WT) in late 1976 under Dave Metcalf & George Ramsey.  I spent just over a year at Kippax, we only left because my wife's health was suffering, being so far away from home.

I managed a "sideways" transfer back to the Penrith Outstation at my own expense in 1979.


Some amusing incidents . . . or maybe not !

How a WT at Penrith wreaked a BRAND NEW Ford Cortina ..... with moving it an inch. While testing the radio installation, he had revved the engine so high that the flywheel bolts sheared!

Estimated road speed in top of about 180MPH !


.... of hearing reports via local town PR's in the west of the county about a woman of the way up one of our main site masts down that way (Harris Dyke).

She had climbed up in protest about an extension to an open cast coal mine not more than a dozen yards from her front door.

Both local police & fire service in attendance when we arrived. We monitored the situation while a fire-fighter was sent aloft to help her down.


..... of been towed back to Penrith from somewhere up the county. We were in our Landrover which had broken down, and were "rescued" by our SWT.

Can you imagine being towed down the M6 .......... by an Austin 6cwt Van ????

.... of yours truly installing the cabling in a police mini-van & drilling through the fuel line! The traffic sergeant said "don't worry, there's only about a gallon in it" ......

Like hell there was ....... It was FULL!


   ..... of getting reports from the police control room of incoming interference on Channel 1 - the main county wide channel.

After an investigation we proved it to be coming from somewhere in the north of the county.

Having checked all the fixed stations up that way, it was decided to use a bit of "RDF" to track it down, after we had spent almost all day on this, driving around the north of the county, we came to the conclusion that it came from the Dumfries area.

We drove around Dumfries a while, realising it seem to be coming from a certain building in the town ...... Dumfries & Galloway Police HQ !

Their "inter-force" set was jammed on TX but with the A.C.O.R. in the RX position!

Their engineer was none to happy about been called out ....


...... and where are we now?

In 1988 I, along with many others in the dept. decided to look at what the directorate were offering in the way of pay-outs for early retirement.

The first figures were very, very unsatisfactory indeed, but after a month or so, these figures were "upgraded" and I applied for release. It was not until late 1989 that this was granted, and I took my leave of the Home Office on the last day of March 1990.

I have some very pleasant memories of my time with the department and of its staff.

And I might add, some rather unpleasant ones too ........

I still see at least one or two of my old work mates around the county at times ......


I now run my own taxi business, OK very small, but keeps the wolf from the door.

John Borradaile
16th November 2004

Acknowledgement: John Borradaile

page updated: 17/08/23

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