Manly Warringah Radio Society Club History

This page is taken from the original club website..

Until recently, we thought that the club had started around 1934. A recent search through the archives of the Sydney Morning Herald, held by the National Library of Australia, reveals that the Manly Radio Club was already active in 1923!

(The following comments about the old Manly Radio Club were written in 2005 by Gerald Sabin VK2AGS, who joined the club around 1936.)

The Manly Radio Club (callsign VK2MR – see update, below) initially commenced at the home of Harry Knight, who worked at the Fresh Food and Ice Co. in La Perouse St, Fairlight in approx 1934-1935. They then moved to a large garage situated at the home of a Mr Huddlestone at 120 Condamine St., Balgowlah. In the latter part of 1935 a double-storied house became available in Fairy Bower Rd Manly and the club occupied this building until a wall collapsed during a heavy storm which naturally terminated their tenancy. (See Dec 2010 update, below.)

Some of the names mentioned to me as original members were Ron Kirton (who very kindly supplied the information of the formation of the club), George Thornton, Doug Hardy, Norm Buchanan, Bill Kelly, Alan Furze, Bill Smith, Charles Wilkins and Jim Haining. Following their move from Fairy Bower Rd, the club obtained permission from the Navy in 1936 for use of their clubrooms on the East Esplanade, near the Manly Baths (where the Manly Skiff Club is today). The Navy trained Cadets, part time in sailing techniques from this building.

The Radio Club had the use of a small room wherein was located their transmitter and receiver, with the antenna strung from the roof of the building. to one of the convenient trees nearby. This Building was used until 1939, when with the increase of training, the Navy required the building full time with the approach of WWII. VK2MR was finally wound up and disbanded with the assets of the radio club being disbursed amongst the current members at the time.

There were many radio clubs formed at that time, some being Waverley, Zero Beat, Lakemba, Hurstville, St George, Nth Western, Gladesville, Illawarra and Manly. Each had their own individual colours, Manly being white on Black and they all hosted field days from time to time.

Plenty of space for field days with North Head and Dobroyd Head being just virgin bush, ideal areas to hide the “fox”. Bob le Moine of Harbord always won these events and eventually I learned his secret. He wound up a 40mx coil as his antenna and once he obtained the sense, he could walk straight to it! I built up a receiver using a #19 triode, all enclosed in an Arnotts biscuits tin (for shielding) a small battery, inside for the filaments with the HT battery underneath, which in those days cost a packet.This was all assembled in a carrying case for portable use.The antenna consisted of two crossed pieces of timber with a few coils of wire wound around it. (very antiquated by today’s standard). There was great rivalry between clubs at these field days in attmpting to find the fox first.

The highlight of that era was the annual radio display held in the Assembly Hall. Sydney, where each club was designated a space for their stall. Prizes were allocated for things like the best decorated stall, best display of home brew equipment etc. I am quite sure a few members of the public would have become interested in Amateur Radio following those shows.

(Horst VK2HL supplied the following…)

I think the club reformed at Hinkler Park around 1976. Before moving to Beacon Hill from Hinkler Park we were in limbo for some time and had meetings at the Harbord Diggers Club which was often attended by local identity Bob “Tex” Morton.  We also had club rooms at Warringah Mall (in the building on the site of what is now Sizzler Restaurant.)

Moving to Beacon Hill at the site of the old Radar Station the club stayed there until redevelopment (new “Apple” building) forced us to move to our present spot at Terrey Hills. It was at that time our title was changed from “Club” to “Society”.

Over the years, the Society has provided emergency communications backup for a number of natural disaster situations, and has also provided safety communications services for local community events, such as equestrian cross-country communications. Notably, members of the Society helped operate the ground control station for Dick Smith’s record-breaking hot-air balloon flight across Australia in 1993.

Fast forward to 2009, and the Society was asked to leave the Centre to allow the State Emergency Services to expand their operations. The Society is not a front-line emergency service, so this request is understandable. In past years, the Society has supported the other emergency services on site, but Sydney has not had a major disaster requiring the backup services the Society offers. The last really “good” emergency was the 1994 Sydney bush fires; during this activation, the Society helped provide emergency communications when critical infrastructure on the Central Coast crippled communications between Sydney and Newcastle.

In June 2009, the Society’s tenure at the Volunteer Services Centre came to an end. After a short spell at the Terrey Hills Community Centre, the club moved to its current home at the 1st Terrey Hills Guides Hall in September 2009.

Update, February 2010, by VK2SKY: a search through the archives of the Sydney Morning Herald, held by the National Library of Australia, reveals that the club was active at least as far back as 10 July 1923 (see clipping at right, and click on it to see it the article in the original page). A brief notice on 6 July 1923 advertises the event, but doesn’t explicitly name the club. Searches for earlier references to the club are continuing.

Update, July 2010, by VK2SKY: Page 93 of the Sydney “Evening News” Wireless Handbook, edited around 1923 or 1924, includes a list of licensed Amateur Wireless stations. The callsign 2YE (this was before the international prefix VK came into use) was shown as assigned to the Manly District Radio Club. On page 125 of the same handbook, a list of Radio Societies included the Manly Radio Club, with the principal being G. M. (George Mansfield) Brown, of 24 Reddall-street (sic), Manly. Thanks to Tim Mills VK2ZTM for that information. Update, July 2011, by VK2SKY: 2YE does not appear in a list of callsigns published in The Sunday Times (Perth) on 4 October 1925. Perhaps nobody remembered to renew the licence!

Update, December 2010, by VK2SKY:  According to the Adelaide Advertiser of 24 October 1936… “VK2MR, the Manly Radio Club, is now located at Darley road, instead of Condamine street, Manly. The transmitter has a 53 crystal oscillator, and type 410 power amplifier.”

As noted at the top of the page, Gerry VK2AGS recalls the club callsign, VK2MR, but the Broadcasting section of the Sydney Morning Herald for 29 February 1936 lists VK2MR as an experimental service operated by A.W.A on 31.28m/9590 kc. However, a later SMH article, dated 6 May 1937, shows VK2MR as allocated to the Manly Radio Club at that time.


  1. Richard VK2SKY
    January 19, 2014    

    Earliest mention of the Manly Radio Cub found so far: The Evening News for 17 March 1923 reports on the Many Radio Club’s inaugural meeting. The meeting itself may have been on the preceding Monday, the 12th. I’ll have a closer look at The Sydney Morning Herald reports for that week.

  2. Frank (Nobby) Clark
    August 22, 2012    

    I a doing some research on my late uncle Frank Clark (whom I am named after). He was a amateur radio operator and owned his own radio shop in Belgrave St Manly. He operated from his home at Fairlight, his call sign was 2YF, He unfortunately died in 1928, but I know he was licenced in 1924 and 1925.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You.
    Nobby Clark.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you Human? *