Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grimeton Station

Previous post: Timmerkullen

My cousins have taken us to the Varberg Radio Station at Grimeton because it seems like the kind of place my father (a former telephone man) will find interesting.

I’m not sure how interested he is, but I see that whatever weird magnetism has brought me to the remains of various Marconi stations and similar sites around the world is still at work. I have no idea why I end up at these monuments to dead communication technologies, but it seems, almost invariably, to happen. It’s weird, but the advantage is that I actually understand most of the context in which this particular station was built.

This was part of a short-lived long-wave radio system that relayed messages between Sweden and the United States in the days before and through World War II - in the space between the telegraph and the ascendancy of short-wave radio.

We are lucky and get a guided tour in English, so actually learn how all this equipment, including the Alexanderson alternator and tuned antennas, actually worked.

Dad's photo

It’s pretty cool. The station has been totally preserved – literally frozen in time – to try to give a sense of what this place would have been like when it was operating. . . despite the fact that it was only fully operational for a relatively brief period and would have been deafening loud.

Today it is still and quiet, making it hard to imagine what it really was like to work here in the frantic days when the daily news to New York might include a report of another victory by the German forces.

The whole place evokes tidy Scandinavian efficiency, right down to the cooling pond that doubled as a decorative fountain.

But what I like best are the towers. At 415 feet in height, they are slightly eerie, almost alien examples of industrial sculpture that is both massive and delicate.

(The station still broadcasts occasionally. It’s SAQ at 17.2 kHz CW.)

Next post: War Graves

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