Varberg Radio Station
The Varberg Radio Station is the original station site for an ultra-longwave radiotelegraph transmitter that was used for wireless transatlantic communication in the 1920s. The site consists of the transmitter equipment, including the aerial system with six 127 m high steel towers, and a residential area with housing for the station staff.
The transmitter was constructed between 1922 and 1924 by the Swedish-American engineer Ernst Fredrik Werner Alexanderson. Alexanderson (1878-1975) was responsible for a number of innovations in the communications field. The structural engineer Henrik Kreüger constructed the six antenna towers, the architect Carl Åkerblad designed the neoclassical buildings.
The Varberg station is the only one left from a global network that was planned after WWI to enhance communication between countries worldwide. It was used until the fifties for transatlantic radio telegraphy to Radio Central in Long Island, New York. It has been kept in working condition since and is still in use by the Swedish Navy.
Visit August 2008
I didn't expect too much of this site, but the people running and conservating it have done a good job making the radio station's history come alive. A new visitor center has been constructed near the heritage objects / monuments. There's a cafe, a souvenir shop and you can buy tickets for a tour. After paying 50 Swedish kroner I was picked up promptly by an English speaking guide.
The visible parts of the site consist of the six huge masts, a pool of cooling water with fountains, the pretty main building and two lesser buildings. Signals were only sent from here - a receiving station used to exist about 30kms away. Varberg (or Grimeton, to be more precise) was part of a global network that connected with New York. In the cafe a mural shows the other locations of this ring: Poland, England, mainland USA and Hawaii. The introduction video shown at the site emphasizes the need for transatlantic communication in the early 1900's, as many Swedes had emigrated to the USA. This longwave radio station shortly filled the gap between the vulnerable underwater cables and shortwave (which was introduced widely in the year 1927).
In the surprisingly pretty Neoclassistic main building (which wouldn't look out of place in some fine Italian town), the machines that were necessary to operate the system are on show. Messages in morse code arrived here from a telegraph office in Gothenburg, where companies and the general public could deliver their messages to be sent overseas. These morse messages were then transmitted all the way to the New York via the ingenuous transmitter. The site of Grimeton was especially chosen because of its flat coastal land and because there is a clear line from here to New York bypassing Scotland, Denmark and Norway.
In all, an educating visit to one of the most orginal WHS: the only one dedicated to telecommunication so far.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Ian Cade (England):|
From looking at the positive reviews from some of my most trusted commentators on this site, I already knew that this was going to be a little more interesting than it first sounded. What I found certainly reinforced the reviews below and I found this to be a real gem of a WHS.
The site comprises of the radio station building and the long field of antennas stretching for 2km westwards. I actually got a good view of these towers the day before as I drove on the main road south, and from the fortress in Varberg proper, they looked pretty impressive and mixed in well with the rather beautiful wind turbines that lined all of the E6 that I drove on.
The presentation at the site was impeccable; the new visitors centre was a rather beautiful modernist cube, with lots of information and World Heritage themed goodies. The guided tour was pitched really well, it was thankfully was not exceedingly long. This meant that it did not get bogged down in the functioning of the machinery, which is important and interesting to some, but as a casual tourist I was glad it was kept to the basics.
One thing that really impressed me was how the importance of the machines was highlighted. Standing in front of a contraption that sent the signal out to the masts, the tour guide explained how this mechanism was run almost non-stop in the early years of the radio station. It pumped out Morse code messages almost continuously and the sum total of this data over a year was roughly 2MB (approximately the same as an e-mail with a photo attachment). This really helped me understand the importance of this site; it is the best surviving example from the dawn of international wireless communication, something which has a massive effect billions of people’s everyday lives.
After the tour I had a wander around the site by myself taking some photos, before heading back to the visitors centre. I sat down with a delicious Världsarvsbakelse (World Heritage pastry!!) to watch a short documentary explaining the history of the site in the broader context of Swedish emigration to the USA and more general trends in global communications.
This is a pretty unique WHS and exceptionally well presented and its proximity to the charming town of Varberg make it a little gem of a World Heritage Site.
[Site 7: Experience 8]
| Date posted: October 2011|
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
This is one of the sites that you just visit to tick them off, but then turn out to be quite pleasant. I'm not really an expert in technical matters, but the importance of this station in the early days of radio technology was well presented in a guided tour, a movie, and a small exposition (there is a brand new visitor centre with a café). After the tour, you can explore the site on your own, and there is a trail with informative signs leading to the massive antennae. It should be noted that even though the site is called Varberg Radio Station, it is actually located in the village of Grimeton, easily 12 km away. There are occasional buses, but since I had to rush to catch one of the 2 daily tours in English, I took a taxi. It is also recommended to spend some time in Varberg, a pretty seaside resort with an impressive castle and a quite un-Scandinavian beach ambience.
| Date posted: August 2011|
|Hans Vles, author of: "Hallo bandoeng". (in Dutch) (The Netherlands):|
A great monument, lovingly preserved by a country that knows how to honor its greats sons. You deserve a Nobel prize!
I have bought and read the English version of the book about Alexanderson by Bengt V. Nilsson: also very worthwhile. The Netherlands also have a rich history of early longwave radiotelegraphy. Unfortunately, the famous station Malabar on Java near Bandung was blown up and of its counter station, Radio Kootwijk in the middle of my country, only the main building survived. I hope these two stations will exchange information, so they can display pictures of eachother's installations.
| Date posted: July 2010|
|Christer Sundberg (Sweden):|
The Radio Station of Grimeton is easily accessed, slightly east of Varberg. Once, in the 1920:ies, Grimeton was part of a global network of long wave radio stations, linking the world for both business and personal telecommunication purposes. The station consists of six majestic 127-meter high steel towers and – just as majestic - transmitter equipment, housed in the station building. Today, Grimeton is the only station preserved in this global series of stations, a technology developed by Swedish-American Ernst F.W. Alexanderson. Next to the station building is a small museum and café where you can browse through the history of telecom as well as buy your tickets for the guided tours.
| Date posted: August 2005|
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