Detailed History 1911 to 1961


It is an established fact that the first Wireless Club in the country was formed in Derby during the year 1911. Prior to this there was an Association run by the periodical, "Model Engineer." Our local model engineering enthusiasts were experimenting with the new science of wireless. In the Spring of 1911, Professor G. P. Bailey gave a lecture in the Derby Guildhall, entitled "Scientific Progress in Our Time" and demonstrated the ringing of bells and lighting of lamps with wireless waves. This prompted the local experimenters to form a group and with the guidance of Mr. S. Grimwood-Taylor and Mr. Alan Trevelyan Lee the Derby Wireless Club was founded. Original founder-members included Messrs. Carl L. Drury; L. W. Bemrose, S. W. Thompstone, G. E. Mart, F. Jolley, R. A....1 Briggs, H~ Latham, A. B. Hulme, G. M. Bowles, J. Lowe, J. W. Downes, F. Nuttall, K. and G. Haslam, W. Harris, E. S. and R. Huson, H. Canham, T. G. C. Hill and J. Parsons, who acted as the first Secretary. A room in Old Bank Chambers, Iron Gate, Derby, was used as an experimental station. The Station Call Letters were QIX.


Having established the station, books were purchased and a lending library started. During the year, through the pages of a periodical, "English Mechanic and. World of Science," the Club gave valuable advice to other amateurs in various parts and subscriptions for membership were arriving daily. On August 12th of this year, the Amateur Radio Movement was officially recognised in the USA. Our local newspaper, the "Derby Daily Express," carried several reports of the activity in Derby and even reported the weather as received from Paris.


On Saturday, January 18th, the Club Rooms were vacated. An Exhibition was presented at the Club's new rooms at 47 full Street, Derby. This received a full-page coverage in the February 6th issue of the "Daily Sketch." On May 7th there was a column in the "Daily News & Leader" devoted to the; Derby Wireless Men's Club. In the July 9th issue of this same paper, under the heading "Aerial Music," reference was made to the Club and Mr. Lee's cigar box receiver. The February issue of the "Model Engineer" carried a letter with a plea for other towns to start Wireless Clubs. Correspondence ensued with several notable people of the day, resulting in the formation of numerous Clubs, among them, the Birmingham Wireless Association, the Croydon Wireless and Physical Society, Northampton and Bristol Wireless Clubs. The London Wireless Club was formed on July 5th and re-formed as the Wireless Society of London on October 10th.


Up till now the Office of President had remained vacant. However, Sir Henry Norman, MP agreed to become the first President. An invitation from the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society to participate in their Exhibition during August was cancelled due to the outbreak of hostilities. It was during this year that Nottingham formed a Wireless Club and that Hiram Percy Maxim founded the American Radio Relay League. During the war years, members put their knowledge to good use in one' or other of the Services, but tenancy of the Club Room was terminated in favour of a smaller room at the Mechanics' Institute in the Wardwick. This helped to conserve the finances.


With the return of members from active service, interest again started and the total fully-paid membership as shown on the 31st December was twenty-two.


The ninth Annual General Meeting, held at 95 Canal Street, Derby, on January 2nd, was attended by thirty-six when the Principal of the Derby Technical College, F. W. Shurlock, Esq.-, B.A., B.Sc., was elected to the office of President, the Secretary being Capt. W. L. Bemrose. Affiliation to the Wireless Society of London was approved and meetings were transferred to Room 24 at the Technical College.


This was the year of the transatlantic tests on the short waves, in which several members co-operated. Meetings were now being held alternately at the Technical College and Mr. A. T. Lee's residence at The Court, Alvaston, Derby. Meetings took the form of informal discussions, lectures and demonstrations of small spark transmitters, crystal receivers, simple valve transmitters and receivers and radio telephone apparatus,


On May 12th, the "Derby Daily Express," under "A Derbeian Diary," featured a paragraph on the Club's activities with a photograph of Mr. A. T. Lee's sister broadcasting to members the result of the Carpentier-Lewis fight the previous night. During this year a Miss Austin was elected to membership. The Dutch concerts from The Hague were a popular Sunday afternoon attraction and at the annual general meeting when thirty four members were in attendance the sum of£1 is. was voted to the Dutch Concerts Fund. On 11th November, the Wireless Society of London was changed to the Radio Society of Great Britain.


Membership now totalled 91 and Club premises were changed twice, meetings being held first at the Shaftesbury Restaurant, and then above the "Derby Daily Express" offices in St. Peter's Street, Derby.


During the past two years, experiments had been carried out by Mr. A. T. Lee and Club members, with telephony transmission from below ground to surface in the mines. The apparatus used was exhibited during this year at the Club Wireless Exhibition.


Club finances were suffering due to the increased cost of room rent and to save further expense the Club moved to a room in St. James's Street, Derby. Membership in 1925 dropped to forty-four, possibly due to the increase of subscription which was enforced to offset the increasing financial liability.


Activity increased in spite of the reduced membership. Members co-operated with the Derby Branch of the Wireless League, Derby Rotary Club, Derby Railway Institute Radio Society, Bemrose Radio Society, Ripley and District Radio Society and members of the Post Office Engineering Staff to provide wireless for the patients in Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. The Chairman of the Technical Committee was E. V. R. Martin, G2TL, a very early member of the Club, and the installation -was officially presented to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary on Monday, November 15th. The "Derby Daily Express" for November 15th and 16th carried full-page articles with photographs of the presentation.


October of this year saw some changes in the transmitting licence conditions, to take effect from the 1st January, 1929. Finances were such that the Club did not renew its affiliation to the R.S.G.B. E. V. R. Martin, 2TL, was busy experimenting with Television.


With effect from 1st January, existing licences to transmit were terminated, the prefix G was essential, as was the need to measure the sending frequency to a greater degree of accuracy. This led to the non-renewal of some of the Old-Timers' calls. It was estimated that of the previous total of 1,500 licences, only 900 had been renewed. On January 15th, E. V. R. Martin gave a demonstration of Television with his home-constructed transmitter and receiver in the Mechanics' Institute. The 18th annual general meeting of the Club was held at Messrs. Richardson's, Eagle Street, Derby on January 17th, when E. V. R. Martin was added to the list of vice-presidents.


The straight receiver was in popular vogue and as a matter of passing interest, the BBC reported that they had received some 7,023 complaints of interference caused by oscillating detectors. An interest in direction finding had started among local enthusiasts, possibly due to the dearth of radiating oscillators.


The Amateur was still only permitted to broadcast for two hours out of every twenty-four, a reason for the Club's visit to Bass's Brewery on July 1st. The winter session commenced with meetings of the Derby Wireless Club in the Lecture Room at the Pear Tree Branch Public Library.


The coming-of age of the Derby Wireless Club was celebrated with a dinner at the Irongates Hotel on February 8th. Among those present were many of the founder and early members of the Club.


Membership remained constant, activity being centred around demonstrations and visits, but to cater for the short-wave enthusiast the Derby Short-wave Club was formed, the Secretary being Gil White, G2BOW. It was on January 27th of this year that W. A. Mead G5YY (first Chairman of D. & D.A.R.S.) was elected Secretary of the Burton-on Trent Radio Society.


A visit to the Rugby Radio Station was organised.


The G.P.O. incorporated a new clause in the Amateur Licence forbidding social or political propaganda. The Derby Short-wave Experimental society was busy organising lectures.


The Silver Jubilee of the Derby Wireless Club was celebrated with a dinner at the Irongates on the 28th October when a presentation was made to the founder-members, Messrs. S. G. Taylor and A. T. Lee. In November, Mr. E. V. R. Martin, as Chairman of the Derby Wireless Club accepted the office of President of the Derby Short-wave Experimental Society.


The writer joined the Derby Wireless Club. Membership had risen to seventy-one and an evening to remember was the demonstration of the Voigt loudspeaker at the residence of Mr. W.Bemrose. Visits during the summer months were most popular and included the Ford Works at Dagenham, G.E.C. Coventry, Mr. Lee's model railway at, Etwall, the Bemrose Printing Works and the Derby and Notts. Generating Station at Spondon. The first lecture of the winter session was by Mr. J. D. Price on September 30th, his subject being "Early Experiments in Wireless." April 10th saw the erection of an aerial on the Police Headquarters in Derwent Street, the feeders being attached on the 13th. This was for experiments on the five-metre band between a car and headquarters, the tests being carried out by A. K Hazlehurst, G5HT and Reg Street, G2SD.


During the early months of this year, field events were being discussed. R.S.G.B. members were interested in the National Field Day stations being operated in District 4. On Sunday, June 25th, tests were carried out to provide five-metre telephony around the outskirts of the town and across. District 4 R.S.G.B. members won the N.F.D. Trophy with a score of 655 points. With the outbreak of the second world war transmitting activity ceased, all apparatus being confiscated by the authorities. The number of local stations at this time amounted to seventeen fully-licensed amateurs and eighteen artificial aerial licences. Mr. S. G. Taylor formulated a listening group.


H. C. Murfitt, B.R.S., 4071, appealed for R.S.G.B. members to form a local group.


Gil White, G2OU, agreed to accept the office of scribe for Derby R.S.G.B. members. Pre-war R.S.G.B. meetings were usually held at the Trent Bridge Hotel in Nottingham, there being insufficient support for meetings in Derby.


Casual meetings were arranged by Gil White, G2OU, these being held at 43 Kenilworth Avenue, or at Les Jackson's residence at Franklin Drive, Alvaston.


District 4 R.S.G.B. members attended the first Provincial District Meeting to be held in Leicester. During this year, Mr. S. G. Taylor passed away, the town losing a very keen supporter for the amateur radio movement.


R.S.G.B. meetings continued in February: Bill James, G6XM demonstrated his 22-valve receiver.


Came the return to civvy Street - and due to the extensive use of radio in the Services, the bug had bitten quite a number of the younger generation. Meetings of the Derby Wireless Club were recommenced at the Technical College, under the secretaryship of Mr. A. W. Elliott, the theme of the lectures being Radar. Derby Short-wave Experimental Society started their informal meetings at Nunsfield House, Boulton Lane, Alvaston. There was now quite a large number of local R.S.G.B. members. A group was formed by Alan Grindrod, B.R.S. 9577, and meetings were held in a room at St. Thomas's Road, Derby. Alan Bryan, G8BN, started a Basic Radio Course pending the re-issue of transmitting licences. A combined effort to enter a Station for the first post-war R.S.G.B. National Field Day was a flop and the R.S.G.B. Group being short of funds. Discussion took place in November regarding the formation of the Derby & District Amateur Radio Society. Membership was to be open to all on payment of a five-shilling subscription, the Society to cater for all aspects of radio and electronics, both technically and socially. The Secretary during the first few months was Mr. Steadman and the Hon. Treasurer, Mr. H. Clamp, G2CRL.


The constitution of the new Society had not yet been confirmed and at an extraordinary general meeting on - the 30th -June, a new Committee was proposed and Mr. Alan Alsbury, B.R.S. 12789, agreed to assist the writer in sorting out the paper work, whilst Mr. W. R. Chaffe, G2DLJ, agreed to work on the rules to be adopted. On July 7th the Chair was taken by Mr. W. A. Mead, G5YY and a draft set of rules perused. The first technical lecture demonstration was on August 4th, when R. Bonner Williamson, G5RW, spoke on Crystal Grinding for the Amateur. Membership at this time was thirty-eight, being composed mainly of R.S.G.B. members who were also members of the other local organisations. The services of an early Derby Wireless Club member, John Goodwin, 2NC, were co-opted and a series of lectures and demonstrations on Practical Television for the Amateur were commenced. Attendance at meetings rose rapidly, such that the room at 67b London Road was incapable of holding the audience. The Society co-operated with the Local Model Engineering Society and put on a display at the local exhibition. Gil White, G2OU, built the Society a transmitter for participation in contests. At the close of the financial year the Society's membership stood at seventy.


The Society's first annual dinner was held at the Grandstand Hotel on February 9th. Shortly afterwards, A. G. G. Melville, F.R.C.S., consultant at the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, accepted office as the Society's President. The Call Sign G3ERD was obtained for the Society. Member J. A. Headworth started the magazine for the Local Hams, G 3 Experimental Radio Derby. In the National Field Day, the Society scored 758 points and came sixth out of the entries in Great Britain. Social evenings were organised on the last Thursday in each month at the Post Office Social Club. The premises, 67b London Road, were vacated and the Society's headquarters became the subbasement in the College of Art, Green Lane, Derby. On June 22nd, an invitation was received from the Derby Wireless club for members to join them on their visit to the Whitely Electrical Works at Mansfield and on November 19th the Wireless Club members heard Mr. A. B. Vaughn speak on Electron Optics.


On June 14th, Derby Wireless Club founder-member A. T. Lee spoke to Society members on the history of the Club. The first Direction Finding contest was arranged for June 25th. On July 5th an extraordinary general meeting approved the increase in subscriptions from five shillings to seven shillings and sixpence, to cover the rent of additional premises at Swarkestone. The first annual outing to the Hobbies Exhibition at London was arranged. The magazine editor, Ron Naylor, left for Canada.


Renewals were slow in forthcoming although a very full and attractive programme for this year had been arranged which included an elementary series of lectures for the juniors by E. Shimmin. In September, Jock Smith, G3EMJ, gave the first lecture on single sideband transmission. Later that year the Society's historic section created Quite an attraction at the Exhibition in the Becket Sale Rooms. October 17th saw a large gathering at the Grandstand Hotel for the R.S.G.B. official regional meeting-the first to be held in Derby. The organisation for this event was in the capable hands of Charles Drink-water, G3FNK. Towards the end of this year, correspondence was entered into with the secretary of the Derby Wireless Club, Tom W. Brown, and the Hon. Treasurer, Les. Corbett, with a view to amalgamation. Members assisted in the Festival of Britain's Land Travelling Exhibition at Nottingham. To increase funds, the Society was now participating in public address ventures at various functions.


Bill Mead, G5YY, who had served as Chairman since 1948 had to relinquish office in view of his move to Leicester and Maurice Swift, G3IUK, was welcomed to the chair. Tom Darn, G3FGY, took over Editorship of the Club Magazine. On 19th February the committee of the Derby Wireless Club decided that no more meetings were to be held for the present. At the annual dinner on the 29th February, Mr. W. A. Mead was presented with a clock by the Society. The Society won an R.S.G.B. miniature, having attained the highest score in the first two-metre field event held in May and contested from Harborough Rocks, Brassington. The Chairman organised the first annual Christmas party.


One item of note during this year was the visit to the Sutton Coldfield Television Station. The Society assisted at the Hobbies Exhibitions at Matlock and Ripley. A special Coronation issue of the Society's Magazine was edited by Tom Darn, G3FGY, which included pictures by Jack Hibberd, G3MXI. This was the last issue, due to the expense involved.


The Society was presented with a Trophy by G5YY, to be contested for annually. The first to receive this trophy was Tom Darn, G3FGY. On March 3rd a meeting was convened between Committee members of our Society and the Committee and founder-members of the Derby Wireless Club, when agreement was reached that our Society incorporate the name of the Derby Wireless Club 1911 within the Society's title.


June 15th saw an introduction to Radio Astronomy when member Ken Stevens described the construction of the Radio Telescope he was building at his residence in Oaklands Avenue, Littleover. The founder-members of the Derby Wireless Club were elected to honorary membership of the Society.


The Society's second trophy was presented by the President, Mr. A. G. G. Melville and contested for on July 1st, the winner being Fred Clay, G3IBL. "Isotopes" was the subject of the President's lecture on March 14th, held at the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary.


Under the organising hand of the Chairman, Maurice Swift, -G3IUK, the two-metre station was again operated from Harborough Rocks, the points scored gaining the Society its second miniature.


Ken Stevens' radio telescope now being operational, members heard of the latest achievements at Oaklands Amateur Observatory on June 25th. This was supported by a cine' film covering the past five years' work. On August 17th, the Society, in collaboration with the Derby Short-wave Experimental Society and the 21 NM Corps (NM) Radio Club, held its first Mobile Rally at Rykneld Schools, an event which is one of the most popular annual social gatherings. During October, the Society had a stand at the S.S.A.F.A. Exhibition in the Drill Hall, Derby when numerous copies of the "Do you belong to a Radio Society?" (a re-write of E. V. R. Martin's pamphlet) were distributed. Interest in Direction Finding was at last catching on.


Norman Birkett, G3EKX, won the President's trophy for direction-finding for the second year in succession. The Society organised the R.S.G.B. National Direction-finding Final event on October 6th, when only one team found the two hidden stations. On February 18th, at the invitation of Victor Buckland, over one hundred members and friends visited "Studio B" for an excellent demonstration of stereo and hi-fl sound. In April the Chemical Plant at British Celanese was toured, our guide being member Fred Clay, G3IBL. June 10th was the occasion of members visiting the first Amateur Radio Telescope at Ken Stevens' house, when the abilities of the twenty-five-foot dish was demonstrated. The second Mobile Rally was held on August 16th when over 1,000 visitors were signed in.


The Golden Jubilee Year, when the foundation of the Derby Wireless Club was celebrated with a dinner and dance at the Derbyshire Yeoman on April 23rd. Guests of honour included Major General Eric Cole, C.B., C.B.E., G2EC, President of the Radio Society of Great Britain, the Director of Education for the County Borough of Derby, C. Middleton, Esq., M.A., the Chief Constable of Derbyshire, W. E. Pitts, Esq., and Derby Wireless Club founder-members, Alan Trevelyan Lee, Esq., Carl L. Drury, Esq., G. Eric Mart, Esq., together with Derby Wireless Club members, Arthur K. Hazlehurst and E. Vivian R. Martin.

The foregoing is a brief history of activity throughout the first fifty years, extracted from records held in the Society's archives. It is not possible in the space provided to include every detail, nor include by name all those persons who have worked so hard for the Amateur Radio movement in Derby and District. Apologies are tendered to those who have received no mention. FRED C. WARD, G2CVV.