In September 1987 I joined the Thornbury Radio Club as I had recently passed the Radio Amateurs Examination (RAE), in those days we met in the upstairs hall of the United Reformed Church (URC).
We had a variety of radios at our disposal and a large hall, so if conditions allowed we were able to have smaller meetings around the hall; CW in one corner, a radio operating in another and maybe a group stood nattering about all things Amateur Radio, oh and computers were just making themselves known so we were also looking at packet radio and amateur television broadcast and receive.
But now for a short history. The Thornbury Radio Club was formed in early 1980 by Alan Jones G8AZT after running the first RAE in Thornbury. This, however, was not the first club in Thornbury. During the late 60’s and early 70’s there was a club that met, as it happens, at our current location, the Chantry. This club obtained the callsign G4ABC but when the club ceased it passed to a couple of members in Chipping Sodbury where it remained unused. But during the 1980’s it was offered to the newly formed Thornbury Radio Club. During the club’s expansion in the 80’s members also joined from area’s a little further afield: Wotton, Dursley, Yate and Chipping Sodbury. To reflect this larger catchment area the club changed its name to the Thornbury and District Radio Club. But in the early 2000’s the government disbanded Avon county and replaced it with South Gloucestershire, so the club again changed its name to reflect this new division, becoming the Thornbury and South Gloucestershire Radio Club.
We were a club of about 40 members in the late 80’s and into the mid 90’s. Then we started to lose members, either because they were moving away or because the stage after retirement caught them up. So for the period from then until about August 2008 we struggled on with a nucleus of about 12 to 15 members, then we had to vacate the hall for refurbishment, so for nearly 9 months we were offered the HQ of GX0WOI the local Scout radio station at Woodhouse park. Finally in May 2009, we were able to move back into the newly finished URC Hall! But it was not a good period as the hall had been finished with aluminium clad insulation boards in the roof, a highly gloss laminate floor and shiny gloss walls, the echo and cold feeling made it impossible to do anything resembling radio activities, so we were forced to find alternative accommodation.
Finally in August 2009 we were able to rent on a long term but weekly paid rental the Tudor Room in the Community Association premises, this just worked with 10 members but was not ideal. Over a period of time we negotiated the installation of both VHF and HF antenna’s, so things improved and we were gaining new members. The search began again for a larger room, after talks with the Chantry staff, it was agreed that we could trial the Buckingham Room in November and December of 2012, finally, in January 2013 we negotiated a similar deal for this room as we had for the Tudor room although it was about £4 per week dearer. A team exercise one weekend saw us transfer the antenna feed points to the Buckingham room.
Today the Buckingham room is the home of the Thornbury and South Gloucestershire Amateur Radio Club (TSGARC) where it meets each Wednesday evening. Click here for further information. Being one large room it has space to accommodate the club which continues to grow and now has 35 members.
Many thanks to Alan G8AZT for information about the earlier clubs.