Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Shipping Forecast Radio

Quite often at a car boot I'll come back with something with no idea why I bothered to buy it, and this was one of those things. I think I had a vague thought about stripping a couple of bits from it. A closer inspection the following day revealed it was a bit more complicated than that, as the saying goes...

That's a timer added to the end, with familiar time settings:

Yes, it's been modified to automatically record the daily cycle of shipping forecasts from Radio 4 long wave, and presumably was used on board ship, or at the very least a shore base in communication with sea traffic. Note, though, the very un-Radio 4 errant apostrophe. ;-)

I'm no shipping forecast expert - there's plenty out there - but it's part of the radio daily ritual, not to mention uk culture generally. I recall a radio programme about it where boats would record it to cassette, and occasionally send the radio cassette over to nearby vessels on a line so they could hear it too. Even in these hi-tech days, the fundamental robust nature of long wave AM radio is fundamental.

The radio cassette itself is a Pye (a Philips brand, by then) TR1728, from around 1985. The mains timer has been modified for DC use (easily done - I've done a couple of 12v canal boat use myself, and there's a description of a similar modification here.

A few more pictures:

Being from a car boot sale, with the seller not knowing much about it, I've no idea about it's history. The 'Serial No.004' suggests it was at least part of a small run, made either commercially or in-house somewhere. Note that there's a guard over the timer buttons, wave switch on the back (and also one that can be swung in on top to keep the radio on 'AM'). The timer has been mounted in such a way that precludes easy dissembly, but the mains inlet socket is either damaged beyond use, or has been replaced with something else (which may also be damaged).

The unit has attracted enough interest to be going to a museum, possibly one called 'Ships Timbers' being set up in North Wales.


Neil Corbett said...

Complete with greengrocer's apostrophe I see.

I always think it would be good if old radios played old music. I this case something by Finisterre and Ginger Rogers.

Simon said...

Colleagues used to make FM to AM converters for their old radios so they could have Radio 2's 'Dance Band Days' on them...

This one is stuck on 'Sailing By', I'm afraid. ;-)