G3TKF – Robin Thompson

At the age of about 6 (1950 ish) I liked to help deliver the bread around a few of my neighbours in Downend. The local baker was Maurice Palmer and in his small delivery van along with the large white loaves and small brown ones was an odd collection of wires and boxes with dials … you’ve guessed it Maurice was otherwise known as G6OZ. I was fascinated by his ability to talk to people from his van (160m?) and eventually went to his shack inside the bakery at the junction of North Street and High Street in Staple Hill to see the rest of his station. I can vividly remember seeing what to me looked like a hedgehog on the side of his desk ,but turned out to be a large pile of ash (I THINK in an ashtray!) from his constantly smoked pipe with a large quantity of dead matches sticking out of it—very odd! Maurice would work the DX on 14Mhz in the middle of the night while the dough was rising next door in the ovens.

G3TKF 1961
1961 pre G3TKF licence
1965 in Short Wave Magazine

In the late ‘40s my father worked for the Electricity Board in Overnhill Road in Staple Hill .One of his chums from the office and his wife became great friends with my parents and they would visit regularly in the evenings. I remember talking about my visit to the local bakery and radio kit in the bakers van and was very surprised to learn that Dad’s friend whose name was Geoff was also licenced as G2IK. For several years on a Sunday morning I would catch the No 4 bus from Staple Hill to Norton Road in Knowle where Geoff lived and I would be allowed to say “hello” to G2BGA “Bunny” on Geoff’s regular skeds with him. I was amazed at hearing W and VEs on 10m AM all at S9+ – I thought that maybe one day I could do the same .Geoff and Gwen became lifelong friends with my parents and when Geoff and my father passed away , Gwen and my mother would go on holiday together.

Several years passed and like many others I experimented with building circuits from Practical Wireless designed by F.G.Rayer G3OGR. One gave me contacts on CW on 7Mhz and this must have been where my interest started in CW—it has stayed with me until the present day!

After several years as an avid listener I decided to get a licence . A few terms of R.A.E. night classes at Ashley Down technical college with Reg Griffin G5UH and Ted Harris had my callsign details dropping on the mat early one Saturday morning in June 1963. At the time I was working as an apprentice in a Radio & TV workshop in Westbury On Trym . A close friend Keith Winnard was also in Westbury and we had both applied for our licences at the same time . Our callsigns arrived – G3TKF and G3TKH – we went straight on to 80m to work Eustace G3RAJ (a blind amateur) in Redland, our first ever qso (legally!) on the air – DX of about a mile. Unfortunately, within a short time there was a knock on the door and the head of Radio Interference and his lacky (Mr Wallington and G3OUK!) demanding to see if we had a licence – we had of course – but they had not been informed – so they were left with egg on their face. HOWEVER it seemed as though our home brew TX was doubling in the p.a. and we were coming out with an S9 + signal on (2x 1.950Mhz) = 3.9Mhz ! – they were NOT happy . Two absorption wavemeters were quickly constructed and one 100Khz crystal was bought and shared amongst 4 newly licenced amateurs – it became known as the “Bristol Crystal” and the same serial number appeared on several station inspections list of frequency measuring kit!

I first attended the RSGB meeting at Carwardines Restaurant in Baldwin St (is there anyone else left to remember those !?) in about 1960, I had an associate listening number, A2821 until I got my licence. I met with two “locals” in the area G3OLI and G3RAU . and all three of us became avid DX’ers on 160m I spent many hours digging down into the noise and static on my R1155 listening for USA stations. As a well known G6G* station in Keynsham used to say “Fat Watts always helps to work the DX”. So did patience and lack of sleep !

To cut a long story short, I am still – over 60 years later – chasing stations on the air.

Many things including my wife and all my jobs are directly attributable to my interests in radio … but that’s another story!!

Many thanks to Keith G3TKH for saving this story over the years – I had forgotten it ever appeared in print! (August 1995 issue of the Bristol RSGB Newsletter – Clive G4NAQ was the Editor; G4NKT was the Secretary and Tony G4ROX was the Chairman .

73 Robin

G3TKF @ SARC NFD 1987/8
1997 @ GB500JC G3TKF, G2HDR, G3RFX & ?
2004 @ Shirehampton ARC
G3TKF GB4TC 2019 (G0OER)
2019 @ GB4TC (G3TKF, G0OER)
2023 IOTA @ EI9E
G3TKF GB4KSC 2023 (with G3YHV & G0CJG)
2023 @ GB4KSC (G3YHV, G3TKF, G0CJG)
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