This history of Oxford & District Amateur Radio Society (ODARS) was revived and researched by Paul Goodhall M3JFM and his son Peter M3PHP (now 2EOSQL). A full version of the history of the club is available on Paul’s website at http://m3jfm.net/historyfiles/odarshistory.pdf
The society is over 80 years old now and clearly it has taken much time and effort to track down information, with the help of past and present Society members.
My role is simply to condense the information gathered for inclusion in our website. The full text together with some photographs is available on Paul’s website at: http://www.m3jfm.net.
Ted Burrell G3LPU. March 2004
A Brief Summary
In 2004 we reached our 80th year, to mark this, a buffet was held at the meeting on 12th February, and during the month of February, members were able to use the Society call sign G5LO/P from their home address.
One of the founders of the Society in 1923 was Mr. G.H.Day, whose son has passed to us a copy of his father’s original ODARS membership card, which gives us a record of some of the first officers of the organisation. The annual membership subscription as 7s 6p (now about 38p), however in those days, a substantial part of a weeks wages.
The Society was disbanded after 2 years, it was thought possibly due to the high membership cost!! There were still radio enthusiasts in the area however and after passing the appropriate tests in theory and Morse code, in 1932, a Mr. Howard Long, obtained the call sign G5LO, (now adopted by the Society).
The Society was re-activated in 1934 and Mr Long was one of the members responsible for its reorganisation, another such member was Mr.F.A. Jefferies (Jeff) G8PX , who until a year ago was our President. Initially meetings were held in member’s homes.
During the early days , 1932 and ’34 radio components were hard to obtain and expensive if found. This meant that amateurs had to be inventive in making items like capacitors, microphones, borrowing valves, and constructing their own equipment. Generally building up a useful expertise which together with the ability to read Morse code would be put to good use in the war years that were to come.
In August 1939, all amateur licences were revoked, and equipment impounded. Howard Long G5LO who was wheelchair bound, was enlisted as an employee of MI5 and given a radio receiver to enable him to monitor and report on enemy Morse code traffic. He did this most effectively throughout the war and was awarded a BEM for his efforts. This type of work for the war effort was undertaken by other amateurs of the time, one of which is a current member of the Society, and recent past president, Mr. F.A. Jefferies G8PX.
The Society continued to meet at members homes albeit with fewer members, throughout the war years.
When hostilities ceased in 1945, there was some sporadic activity by service personnel on the amateur bands, but officially amateur licences were re issued in January 1946.
ODARS meetings started more actively after the war. The oldest copy of any minutes of these meetings is for May 1951, although there are press references before that date. Some indicating meetings were held at various locations in and around Oxford between 1946 and 1951.
One of the most popular events run by the RSGB is the National Field Day (NFD). The first one taking place in June 1933 and except for the war years, have continued as an annual event ever since. Certainly it is one of the highlights of our Society’s activities in our current diary. There is a record that in 1950 the Society entered the NFD with another 110 amateur stations and gained 51st place. In those years, membership was over 70 with 18 licensed amateurs.
Over the years members of the Society have been active in direction finding competitions and indeed, a cup for this activity was given by a Mr. Bert Collier SP1V. This has now been passed on Mid Thames DFC, due to a loss of interest in DF by ODARS members.
In 1955 the first amateur mobile rally was organised and run by Mr Brian Grist G3GJX an ODARS member.
Over the years we can see a diversity of interest by ODARS members and we are pleased to see that after 80 years ODARS is still alive and well!