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"Daventry Calling the World" by Norman Tomalin

Reviewed by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson

Back in the era when I was growing up in a very small country town in South Australia, our major means of radio information was from a small handful of AM stations located in the capital city, Adelaide, just 25 miles away. There were two categories of radio stations on the air in this era before FM, and these were operated by the government ABC network and by commercial interests.

Regularly each day, at set times in the broadcast schedule, the ABC network would carry a shortwave relay from London, or in those days, as it was announced on air, from Daventry. The shortwave relay was received on a bank of radio receivers at a receiving station operated by the ABC near Perth in Western Australia, the nearest location on the Australian continent to England. This relay programming was then fed by wire to the entire ABC network throughout Australia. Thus, we used to listen on a regular daily basis to "Daventry Calling."

A recent publication, "Daventry Calling the World" presents the entire history of this now nostalgic shortwave facility, located in the English countryside something over 100 miles from London towards the center of England. This very readable, 96 page book, with a high gloss color cover, unfolds the entire history, from the earliest beginning in 1925 throught its 67 year history, till its memorable close in 1992.

Back at the beginning, the original building at Daventry housed the longwave transmitter 5XX. Then on December 19, 1932, the "BBC Empire Service" was launched over two shortwave transmitters newly installed at Daventry. Soon afterwards, England's first shortwave transmitter, G5SW, was transferred from Marconi's factory at Chelmsford and relocated at Daventry.

At its height, Daventry contained 11 shortwave transmitters. As the years rolled by, shortwave facilities were erected at other locations in England, and Daventry became obsolete. At a special ceremony on Sunday March 29, 1992, Daventry came to its end.

(96 pages, ISBN 0-905355-46-6, available from Caedmon of Whitby Publishers, "Headlands," 128 Upgang Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 3JJ, England; 12.5 Br. pounds, plus 3 pounds air post & packing.)


The dust jacket for "Daventry Calling the World" (left) shows a general view of Daventry Station from Norton to Dodford Road.