Courtesy of the Amateur Radio Station at Newhaven Fort

By Andy Gilbert - G0CCX

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'NEWHAVEN LIGHTHOUSE GOES ON THE AIR' page

Not everyone will know that there is an active Amateur Radio Station at Newhaven Fort. It's located right at the very top of the site and, if you look up towards the cliffs from the parade ground, you can't miss its collection of various radio antennas. It's run by the Newhaven Fort Amateur Radio Group - NFARG for short - and has been allocated its own unique radio call sign of GB2NFM - Golf Bravo Two November Foxtrot Mike - standing for Newhaven Fort Museum.

Photo:GB0NL on the air, with the operator on the mike and the call logger recording the details.

GB0NL on the air, with the operator on the mike and the call logger recording the details.

Andy Gilbert

However, on the weekend of 18th and 19th August 2018, the station was operating with the special call sign of GB0NL - Golf Bravo Zero November Lima - standing for Newhaven Lighthouse. This was to allow it to take part as a 'lighthouse' in the amateur radio contest that forms part of the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend. OK, the radio station wasn't actually based in the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater, but there were special dispensations for those lighthouses or lightships that were closed to the public or otherwise physically unaccessible! Each lighthouse or lightship radio station taking part was allocated a unique number - Newhaven's was UK0190 - and radio amateurs around the world were trying to put as many of these numbers into their logbooks as possible. Many will then confirm the contact - especially if it's over a very long distance - via electronic means or by the more traditional, and rather more fun, method of exchanging what are called 'QSL cards'. GB0NL's card is shown at the top of this page, with the reverse of the card giving all the details of the contact. There are international 'QSL Bureaux' around the world that handle the exchange of these cards, so stations don't have to post out each one! 

Photo:The radio station's Icom HF radio transceiver tuned to 7.113.50 MHz on the 40 metre band.

The radio station's Icom HF radio transceiver tuned to 7.113.50 MHz on the 40 metre band.

Andy Gilbert

I'm a licensed radio amateur myself, my own call sign being G0CCX, so I was able to take the mike for a couple of sessions and work other stations around the UK, and in Holland and Germany on the 40 metre and 20 metre amateur radio wavebands. Atmospheric conditions were a bit up and down, and the bands were quite noisy at times but, by the time I left, the station had made nearly 50 contacts, including quite a few other lighthouse stations.

Photo:The radio operator's card with 'reminders' of the station's details for the event

The radio operator's card with 'reminders' of the station's details for the event

Andy Gilbert

By the end of the weekend, GB0NL had worked dozens of stations, including 37 other lighthouse stations, in the UK as far north as GB0OL at North Ronaldsay Lighthouse in the Orkney Islands (I had the pleasure of making that contact myself), throughout Europe and even across the 'pond' to the USA.

Photo:Some of the station's radio antennas

Some of the station's radio antennas

Andy Gilbert

The radio station at the fort also boasts a collection of old military radio equipment as well as old home radios from the 1930s through to the 1970s - the kind of thing that might have sat on the sideboard or on a table in the corner of the room years ago! Well worth looking into the radio room next time you're up at the fort. It's not always open, as it's run entirely by volunteers but if the door is open, then do go in and have a look around. It's quite likely that someone will be operating the station on the air as GB2NFM and they'll give you a warm welcome.

Although we'd think nothing of picking up our mobile phone and making a call to Australia (though we might wince at the cost), or holding a Skype conversation via computer with family, friends or colleagues abroad, there is still that little bit of magic about amateur radio, bouncing radio signals through the atmosphere yourself, rather than relying on the phone or internet connection, and speaking to like minded people all around the world. It's a fun hobby and the 'entry level' exam to get the Foundation Class licence is not too demanding at all. Once you have a licence, a small starter radio can cost as little as £25! Of course, like all hobbies, the sky's the limit on spending if you get really into it but by buying good, used equipment rather than new, it can still be quite affordable. For more information on amateur radio in the UK, visit the Radio Society of Great Britain's website at

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 26/08/2018.

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