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Uisaed, Machrihanish Radio Station

Radio Station (20th Century)

Site Name Uisaed, Machrihanish Radio Station

Classification Radio Station (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Wireless Telegraph Station

Canmore ID 348773

Site Number NR62SW 24

NGR NR 62836 20692

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/348773

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Campbeltown
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Activities

Note (30 September 2015)

A radio station was constructed in late 1905 as part of an experimental transatlantic radio system. It operated until December 1906 when the mast fell over during a storm.

The Wireless Station was never used again, but it was depicted on the OS 25-inch map (Argyllshire 1921, sheet cclvi 12 & 8) revised in 1915, and annotated as 'Wireless Telegraph Station (disused)'. As mapped it comprised a large building and three smaller buildings, the mast base and the anchor points for the guy lines.

Modern aerial photography shows many the concrete base of the main building, the mast base and anchor points.

Information from RCAHMS (AKK) 30 September 2015

Field Visit (28 October 2019 - 5 November 2019)

NR 62835 20673 A desk-based assessment and archaeological walkover survey was carried out in advance of a new fish hatchery development at Lossit Point (Uisaed), Machrihanish, on the Kintyre Peninsula. The archaeological input had been requested due to the development being located in a landscape with high archaeological potential. In particular, the construction of the fish hatchery will impact on the site of the Wireless Radio Station at Lossit Point, which was constructed between 1905 and 1906. The station, along with a similar facility built at Brant Rock, Massachusetts, in the United States, took part in the first wireless communication transmissions across the Atlantic. The work was the brainchild of Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, who has been named ‘The Father of Radio Broadcasting’.

A full inspection of the development area was conducted and all upstanding remains relating to the former wireless station were surveyed and recorded. These included concrete foundations relating to buildings, the concrete base of the mast/antenna which dominated this site when it was in use, and concrete anchor points for the antenna stays. In the time available during the survey, some features were recorded in more detail including the mounting blocks for the boiler and steam engine that powered the station, and a section of the antenna base that included ceramic insulators. Within the footprint of one concrete structure at the site, a water tank, disturbance by rabbits had revealed fuel waste (most likely from the boiler) and artefacts including industrial period ceramic and glass sherds.

One additional feature was recorded in close proximity to the development area. This comprised the remains of a Royal Observer Corp monitoring post, dating to the Second World War, and remained in use until 1960.

Although the Fessenden wireless station has been reduced to its concrete foundations, the site retains a number of significant features relating to its design and layout. The sister station at Brant Rock has been almost completely removed, with just the base for the antenna remaining, along with one of the concrete anchor blocks. Therefore, additional archaeological input has been recommended at the site, especially with regards to any elements of the site infrastructure that will be removed or destroyed by the development. The wireless station sites located at Machrihanish and Brant Rock contributed to some of the earliest trans-Atlantic transmissions and although the Machrihanish station only remained in operation for less than a year (due to the antenna being destroyed in a storm), it is important that the maximum amount of information is recovered before the new development takes place. The additional archaeological input recommended at the site, including targeted excavations and a watching brief, will also be supplemented by targeted research of all available records, to complement the information already gathered for this report. This will include data retained in the Fessenden Archive, held at the National State Archives of North Carolina in the USA.

Archive: WoSAS HER and NRHE – (intended)

Funder: MOWI (Marine Harvest Scotland Ltd)

Steven Birch – West Coast Archaeology Services

(Source: DES Vol 21)

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