Radio Society of Great Britain

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Radio Society of Great Britain
RSGB headquarters in Bedford, UK, July 2009.
Abbreviation RSGB
Formation 1913[1]
Type Limited company, registered in England and Wales
Purpose Advocacy, Education

3 Abbey Court, Fraser Road, Priory Business Park, Bedford MK44 3WH

Region served
Nick Henwood G3RWF
Main organ
board of directors
Affiliations International Amateur Radio Union

The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), first founded in 1913 as the London Wireless Club,[1] is the United Kingdom's recognised national society for amateur radio operators. The society's patron is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and it claims to represent the interests of the UK's 80,000 licensed radio amateurs. A long recognised amateur radio organisation, the society is the national member society representing the United Kingdom and certain dependent territories of the United Kingdom in the International Amateur Radio Union. It also acts as a medium for communication between the licensed operators and the UK government.


The RSGB has traditionally acted as the organisation through which its members interact with the telecommunications regulatory authority of the United Kingdom, Ofcom. Although Ofcom has used its web site to solicit opinions directly from all amateur radio enthusiasts and other interested parties, the RSGB continues to advise and to seek to influence Ofcom on the likely impact of proposed changes in many areas – from decisions on licensing and bandwidth controls through to the use of broadband over power lines PLT (which it is thought would cause large amounts of electromagnetic noise).

RSGB also acts as a parent organisation to oversee and govern many smaller groups and societies. Some of these societies unite local areas (such as repeater groups) or groups of individuals (such as Forces service groups, or old timer groups) or even people interested in a particular amateur radio band (such as 2-metre band groups).

The society publishes a monthly magazine called RadCom, along with a range of technical books.

History of the RSGB[edit]

The roots of the Radio Society of Great Britain can traced back to the formation of the London Wireless Club, inaugurated in West Hampstead on 5 July 1913.[3] The first President was Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton who was succeeded in 1920 by James Robert Erskine-Murray.[4]

At its first meeting in September 1913, it was decided that the name should change from the London Wireless Club to the Wireless Society of London.[5] In November 1922, the name of the Society was changed to that it holds to this day, the substitution of the term 'Great Britain' for 'London' being made with the view to extend the perceived scope of the Society's work.[6]

The RSGB made the first radio transmission across to the United States, but failed to have any receiving equipment. Many members were slightly annoyed by this fact and so formed other sections of the RSGB which were later absorbed into the RSGB itself.[citation needed]

During World War II, the entire RSGB Council and many of its members were recruited into MI8, also known as the Radio Security Service. Its mission was to intercept clandestine enemy transmissions.[7][8]

In 2006, the RSGB cooperated with Ofcom to revise the amateur radio licence in the United Kingdom. Changes included removing the annual licence fee and removing the requirement to log all transmissions. Amateur radio operators gained permission to operate one's amateur radio station remotely, and the changes increased the spectrum available to the lower classes of licensees.[citation needed]

In July 2012 the RSGB formally opened the National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.[9]

2011 Expenses Scandal[edit]

On 28 March 2011, the Board announced that the RSGB's general manager, Peter Kirby G0TWW, had left the Society's employment after the discovery of financial irregularities, allegedly to the tune of £41,000.[10] RSGB Director, Don Beattie G3BJ, acted as general manager until the appointment of a new general manager, Graham Coomber G0NBI, in May 2012.

The following notice appeared on the RSGB website on 16 October 2013: “The Board is pleased to be able to report to Members that the debt owed to the Society by its previous General Manager, who left the Society in early 2011, has been repaid in full, together with statutory interest and the Society’s court fees. This will be reflected in the 2013 accounts as a write-back of the provision taken against the debt in the 2011 accounts. Details will be in the annual report and accounts which will be published in time for the AGM in 2014. The Board expresses its thanks to the Society team which has brought about the recovery of this debt and now regards the matter as closed. No further comment will be made.”

RSGB Centenary 2013[edit]

In 2013 the RSGB celebrated its centenary with a programme of events including a special callsign G100RSGB, the RSGB Centenary Award 2013 and a construction competition. The special callsign G100RSGB travelled around the 13 RSGB regions and was operated by groups in each area.[11]

Future of the RSGB[edit]

There are competing demands from more and more non-amateur uses of radio (for example mobile operators and wireless devices). Despite this, the RSGB has been able to maintain existing amateur radio allocations and negotiate some new ones.

With the formation of the Youth Committee the society is catering for the demands of the younger licensees. In 2014, The society took part in the International Amateur Radio Union's Youngsters on the Air event in Finland. The RSGB will be hosting YOTA in 2017. The Youth Committee is chaired by Michael Jones 2E0MLJ, who acts as Youth Coordinator for the UK for the International Amateur Radio Union[citation needed]


The RSGB publishes many books on amateur radio and related matters. A very small sample includes

  • Brown, Chris (ed) (2001) Radio & Electronics Cookbook Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 0-7506-5214-4
  • Dennison, Mike and Lorek, Chris, eds. (2006). RSGB Radio Communication Handbook. 8th Edition. Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 978-1-905086-74-0.
  • Dodd, Peter (1996) Antenna Experimenter's Guide, The Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 1-872309-36-4
  • Fielding, John (2006) Power Supply Handbook Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 1-905086-21-0
  • Fielding, John (2006) Amateur Radio Astronomy Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 1-905086-16-4
  • Hawker, Pat (2002) Antenna Topics Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 1-872309-89-5
  • Poole, Ian (2004) Radio Propagation—Principles & Practice Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 1-872309-97-6
  • Read, Giles (2010) HF Antennas for everyone Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 978-1-905086-59-7


RadCom is the official journal of the Radio Society of Great Britain, and is posted free monthly to all RSGB members (and is used as a method to boost 'membership' figures as opposed to providing magazine subscription). An online version is at . In recent years RadCom has been joined by two additional online publications:-

  • RadCom Basics - for Members new to the hobby or to refresh their knowledge.
  • RadCom Plus - a more technical supplement with more advanced topics and projects

See also[edit]

  • RAYNET In the UK this is the primary emergency communications organisation of the Radio Amateur movement.


  1. ^ a b Clarricoats, John. World at their fingertips. ISBN 0-900612-09-6. 
  2. ^ "RSGB Annual Report – 1 January to 31 December 2008" (PDF). RSGB. 
  3. ^ "Amateur Notes", Wireless World, The Marconi Press Agency, Limited., 1 (5): 340, August 1913 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Clarricoats 1967, p.26
  6. ^ Clarricoats 1967, p.77
  7. ^ West, Nigel. GCHQ: The Secret Wireless War 1900–1986. ISBN 0-340-41197-X. 
  8. ^ "Radio Security Service". CLUTCH Club. 
  9. ^ "National Radio Centre Official Opening", RadCom, Radio Society of Great Britain, 88 (8): 12, August 2012 
  10. ^ "Ham radio society chief leaves after 'financial irregularities'". Bedfordshire on Sunday. 17 April 2011. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017. 
  11. ^ RSGB Centenary 2013 

Further reading[edit]

  • Clarricoats, John, (G6CL), World At Their Fingertips. The Story of Amateur Radio in the United Kingdom and a History of the Radio Society of Great Britain, RSGB, 1967, ISBN 0-900612-09-6
  • Jessop, George (G6JP), The Bright Sparks of Wireless, RSGB, 1990, ISBN 0-900612-95-9
  • Amateur Radio the first 100 years. A Photographic History, RSGB, 1999, ISBN 1-872309-55-0

External links[edit]