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Blehheim Lane buildingBlenheim Lane

The following in an excerpt from the monthly newsletter of October, 1961 by the Glasgow Branch of the RSGB, which was printed in the AARS publication The Voice of Blenheim in May 1969.

The Night Life Of Aberdeen

After a short but wet search while on holiday in Aberdeen, we eventually ran the Aberdeen Amateur Radio Society to earth (or is it antenna!!) at 6, Blenheim Lane.

The club meets in a loft over a garage. When they moved in, it was the usual loft - beams, rafters and dust. The club members put in a floor and lined the roof; then walls were erected to form four walls.

The main lecture room, measuring about 15' x 30' is equipped with a wall-mounted blackboard and a well built bench for demonstrations, all mounted on a low dais (platform to you). There are several rows of cinema seats which are very comfortable and make it much easier to fall asleep during a lecture than those benches at Woodside Halls. These rows can be moved back to the wall for king-size demonstrations. The walls are well decorated with Mullard charts and photographs of club groups.

Behind the blackboard wall is the club radio room, which apart from the rig, also houses a library of radio magazines going back to - well, even before LTB's time.

At the other end of the lecture room is the workshop, complete with bench, vice and those anonymous boxes we ail breed under the workshop bench. Also at that end is the Canteen, where tea was served (3d for the first cup, all after free). After a talk-cum-discussion on Field Day Equipment led by GM3FKS, a large part of the discussion was concerned with the motion study of Field Day operation, and covered such aspects as which side the transmitter should be on... can one successfully 'net' with the right big toe (honest) and should the night shift be served hot, sweet tea in cups or have a continuous drip-feed of Guiness. In short, it was designed to make N.F.D. more efficient, so look out next year Glasgow!

Having finished our tea, we were all standing about holding our empty tea-cups when several blinding lights were suddenly switched on... While we swept up the broken china, one of the lads explained that the local cine club were making a film concerning the radio club. It was to tell the story of a new boy, played by one of the young old-timers, who comes to the radio club, and of course, knows nobody. He is taken under the Secretary's wing and is shown around the clubroom, where the rest of the club members are engaged in activities befitting Hams, in our case, drinking tea. The film mogul took a few shots of this bloke, while the rest of us were extras, standing there taking deep draughts from empty tea cups - talk about Method Acting, Cor...

[You can view the 'Hams' film mentioned above by visiting our Videos Page]

In the same issue (May 1969) of The Voice of Blenheim, Sandy Smith GM3AEL (SK) continues the story:

Read On...

Glasgow members - and others who have not been around ‘our domain' for some time - would be pleasantly surprised to see the Clubrooms now.

The stairway entrance has been cleared of all junk and there is now free access to the premises.  An illuminated sign (supplied by Jim Smith) is now an indication to visitors that they "are there".

The emergency exit has been covered over with wallpapered hardboard (easily moved in an emergency) and the window suitably decorated with curtains.  The ceiling was re-done and covered with white ceiling paper, and the roof lights fitted with new lampshades.  A large table (most suitable for committee meetings) rests against the emergency exit door, and carpet covers the floor!

The "Station" room walls have been re-lined with plaster board and suitable wallpaper applied.  Carried out under the supervision of GM3VEY.

A brand new operating bench (the work of Jeff Wilkie - the loon frae Udny) has been fitted for the full length of the north wall and accommodates:

Sommerkamp FL-200B transmitter
Sommerkamp Receiver
A.R. 88 Receiver
One bug key
2 hand keys
1 microphone
Aerial tuning unit incorporating SWR meter
RSGB Communicators contained in holder made by Bill Wilson, our ‘Jack of all trades' - and ‘stand in' lecturer
Log book and ancillary gear.

On the wall above the operating bench are two World maps of the type consistently favoured by radio amateurs.

The aerial to the rig (meantime a G8KW trap dipole) comes in via the skylight above the operating bench.

The bench previously used as the operating bench is now used for test gear and associated equipment.  An ITU frequency chart is also displayed thereon, along with the ‘visitors book' and radio handbook.

On the east wall is displayed a WAGM Certificate and a facsimile of the Aberdeen Coronation Year Award.  Altogether the station room is more attractive, clean and tidy - and more important still, spacious.

Blenheim Lane morse classA new, larger, blackboard presented by Mr. Shepherd is now in use and the old blackboard has been affixed to the wall at the rear of the hall as a notice board. Coat hooks have been fitted to the walls and a 'stand' is available for hats.

What was previously the Canteen is now the Workshop Sales department.

Half of the Workshop (lecture hall end) was altered to provide a new Canteen (on plan provided by Gilbert Hamilton and Ewen MacPherson) with servery facing the lecture hall and a passageway entrance.  This has proved a most successful venture. Shelves hold crisps (of all types), biscuits (in variety) and lemonade etc.  An electric cooker heats the 'goodies', and ensures hot bridies along with the hot ‘cuppa' at the conclusion of Friday sessions.

The remaining portion of the Workshop is used as a Workshop-cum~store.

For security, and insurance reasons 5 keys are now required to obtain full access to the premises:
(1) Entrance door (latch key)
(2) Door at top of stairway giving access to lecture hall (ordinary type key)
(3) "Station" room (latch key)
(4) Canteen (ordinary type key).
(5) Workshop Sales (ordinary type small key).

Blehheim Lane early shackKeys are available to members against a deposit on application to the Secretary for keys 1 and 2 - and key 3 for those entitled to operate.

In effect, the Clubrooms have undergone extensive overhaul and clearout of extraneous, unnecessary equipment and 'junk' in order to make the place more attractive and accommodating - a most necessary procedure on present attendances.  On one night in particular (not a junk sale), 55 members were present!

Members can now leave cosy homes in the winter and expect at least equivalent warmth and we hope, complimentary interest, in the Clubrooms.

"Pride comes before a fall" they say, and I suppose one was inevitable after boasting about the Society Clubrooms and equipment. If not a fall the Society certainly suffered a hard knock in as much that between 9pm on 30th September and 2.30pm on 1st October, 1968 (a weekend period) the Clubrooms were broken into and the Sommerkamp FL-200B transmitter was stolen. The matter, of course, was reported to the Police. To date, however, nothing has been heard of the equipment. Fortunately, it was suitably insured and on a claim being submitted for loss the Society received £115 in settlement by means of which another FL-200B Sommerkamp transmitter was obtained.  Dare I say the new rig is 'going like a bomb'!

‘The act' was a most despicable one (i.e. the act of breaking in and stealing). Everyone will agree I am sure.  It is worth keeping in mind that the loss was only tempered by adequate insurance.

The 1973 Blenheim Lane Fire

Blenheim Lane fire aftermathThe Blenheim Lane clubrooms were located in the attic space above a motor vehicle workshop.  In January 1973, a fire broke out in the workshop below, which not only claimed the life of a young mechanic but also caused extensive damage to the building.  The clubrooms were rendered unusable and much of the Society's equipment and records were destroyed in the blaze.

As a result of the fire, the Society began the search for new, permanent clubrooms.  This process took a few years and in the meantime, club meetings took place at various locations in Aberdeen.  Eventually, suitable premises were found in Thistle Lane at a former Scout hall.  The building had been empty for some time and much work was required to bring it back into use.  We will be producing a page chronicling the Thistle Lane story shortly.