Long-wave transmitter in Sweden – The Grimeton radio station as Unesco World Heritage

Whether long-wave Grimeton or long-wave Grimeton, we visited and portrayed the Grimeton radio station, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site in Sweden. In doing so, we got to the bottom of the history of the long-wave transmitter Grimeton and here we describe a sight that is unique in the world and that you would not necessarily expect to be in Sweden.

Longest wave transmitter Grimeton

The Unesco World Heritage radio station Grimeton

We were surprised that Sweden has such a high density of Unesco World Heritage sites. And we are equally amazed at how many of the Unesco World Heritage Sites in Sweden we have already visited without being aware of their importance. But now we are visiting the Grimeton radio station with its long-wave transmitter Grimeton and experience how exciting the story of the invention of wireless communication across the Atlantic is.

Unbelievable that there is only one such and even one in the world functioning system like the long-wave transmitter Grimeton. We have dealt with it all the more intensively and describe its historical path from its invention to the present day. All of a sudden, from childhood, our long wave, medium wave and ultra short wave music chest becomes present again.

But how does the long wave transmitter Grimeton work and why can we only recommend visiting and experiencing it? We describe that here in our article about the Grimeton radio station.

In the beginning there was the water

then followed the Grimeton radio station

In order to understand the requirements of a long wave transmitter or long wave transmitter Grimeton, let’s go back to the 19th century Century. In Småland and Värmland there was sometimes bitter poverty. There was a lack of jobs, good income and prospects.

Reason enough for around a quarter of all Swedes to emigrate to America, the land of opportunity. Those who set out by ship to reach America in the middle of the 19th century usually never came back.

Families and friends separated and kept in contact with letters that had been on their way for an eternity. The water between Sweden and America became an insurmountable barrier when it came to maintaining contact.

But there were ideas for communication. Because as early as 1774, Georges-Louis Le Sage presented the first electric telegraph in Berlin. Signals could be sent via lines between two rooms.

The basis was thus created to send messages between Europe and America via a cable, and so the first wired connection was established from August 5th, 1858.

Wireless between New York and Grimeton

The long-wave transmitter Grimeton

Sweden suffered massively from emigration at the beginning of the 20th century. The steam engine had ushered in the industrial revolution all over Europe, but there was a lack of people with know-how and ideas in Sweden.

In fact, Sweden was trying to attract returnees, in fact every fifth emigrant thought about his homeland and came home . Many had made a certain amount of wealth that they could now invest in their homeland. In addition, better housing and educational opportunities were lured and universal suffrage was introduced.

Now the unspeakable First World War came and it became clear once again how fragile the cable connections across the transatlantic were and how dependent Sweden was on them very expensive transmission options without being able to influence it directly. It took a long time to receive a telegram, but also to send it.

The planning

The political will for a new future

This is how the Swedish-American foundation’s proposal for an independent and own wireless connection between the United States and Sweden, open to the King. After all, due to the many Swedes on both sides of the Atlantic there was a great common interest.

The Swedish parliament decided in 1921 to set up its own large radio station. With their help, Morse telegrams were to be sent by radio across the transatlantic.

One requested from Telefunken in Berlin, The Marconi Company in London, Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in New York and the Société Francaise Radio -Electrique in Paris.

The Swedish Reichstag decided to participate for the time being with two million Swedish kronor. The RCA, which owned the radio stations on the east coast of the USA, were awarded the contract. The Swedish pioneer and designer in the field of long wave technology, Ernst FW Alexanderson, worked for Generell Elektric and was involved in the negotiations from the start. On August 14, 1922, Sweden signed a contract for a total of SEK 4.85 million.

Location search

Why the Grimeton radio station was built in Grimeton

Sweden should get a new radio station, only from where one could radio undisturbed send across the Atlantic to America.

So a virtual arc was drawn between Sweden and the east coast of the USA and the ideal region found was the area between Falkenberg and Varberg, south of Gothenburg. The landscape here is flat and runs undisturbed past Scotland on a straight line to New York. No mountain would stand in the way. Likewise, the land was not built on at that time, agriculture alone ensured the character of the environment.

Two more arguments ultimately spoke in favor of the area around Grimeton: The people here urgently needed work and. In the US-American language, Grimeton can be pronounced excellently and unadulterated.

But the way to get there was demanding. Because the land had to be bought from the farmers. The engineer Noren, who later became head of operations, described the situation as follows:

At first I negotiated alone with the farmers, but the result was poor. A firm offer was impossible to get, everything was extremely floating.

A farmer should not say his price for fear that others would think it is too low and that he would be uncomfortable with them. In order to claim that he would lose his existence, he was also afraid of leaving the land to us.

They knew that this would be detrimental to them. When my capabilities were exhausted, the Telegraph Board sent its first secretary, O. Gustáv, to lead the negotiations. Together we were able to reach an agreement with the farmers.

The start of the Grimeton radio station

The completion and commissioning

In the winter of 1922/1923 the purchase contracts were signed, which allowed construction work in Kungsbacka and Grimeton start quickly. However, a crisis with the steel workers delayed the construction of the antenna towers by almost a year. In the late autumn of 1924, the Grimeton radio station went into operation. A positive surprise, however, remained: The construction project for the Grimeton radio station ended at half a million lower costs than budgeted.

On December 1st, 1924, the big moment came. The switches were thrown, the oil pumps started, the huge generator started. It has to run at exactly 2,115 revolutions in order to convert a corresponding magnetic field into waves. The radio station Grimeton started with its two long waves with the call signal SAQ and a frequency of 16.1 KHz.

For the official opening on July 2, 1925, the Swedish King Gustav V traveled, in his shadow and almost However, the inventor of the longitudinal wave generator, Alexanderson, was also present unnoticed. The celebrities were greeted and celebrated by a cheering crowd.

Shortly afterwards, the frequency was changed to 17.2 KHz. Right from the start, 95 percent of Swedish telegrams went directly to America, the other way round it was more difficult. Because in the USA there were several telegraph companies that earned their money by using submarine cables.

On the way from the USA to Sweden, the market share was just under 50 percent. But the radio telegrams were much faster. While they landed at the receiver in an average of 5.6 minutes via radio, they needed 18.2 minutes via the cable.

The exchanges in Sweden and America in particular benefited from the fast connection, but stayed with it Time difference only a few common opening times in which one could exchange messages.

The long-wave transmitter faces competition

Progress does not stop at the Grimeton radio station either

Development made massive advances and did not come before the Grimeton radio station Stop. Longwave technology was already facing competition at the end of the 1930s, so that the first shortwave antennas found their way into the Grimeton radio station. The longwave antennas were increasingly switched off and the generator provided for this was shut down. However, this also saved massive amounts of electricity, which was noticeable in the Yngeredsfors power distributor.

The 17 identical long-wave devices operating around the world were switched off one after the other and shut down or destroyed in the course of the Second World War. But even at this time, the ultra-short wave was increasingly being used worldwide.

After the Second World War, the Swedish military primarily used the Grimeton long wave transmitter for communication with its submarine fleet, because the long waves reached up to a few meters Deep into the salt water. But military use ended in 1995.

The Grimeton radio station today

The active museum

The Grimeton radio station, the only long-wave system in the world, was built between 1918 and 1924 and is still functional built long wave transmitters. On special occasions and UN events, as well as regularly at Christmas and on Alexanderson Day, the long-wave transmitter Grimeton is started up to send greetings from the Grimeton radio station all over the world.

Grimeton radio station becomes Unesco World Heritage

Unique all over the world

From 1925, the Grimeton radio station was part of a global radio network for communication and transmission of radio broadcasts.

The long wave transmitter was part of an international broadcasting network and one of 20 stations around the globe. Today the Grimeton radio station is the only remaining and fully functional system that allows us to participate in the development of radio transmission. It has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2004.

The regional authorities are committed to preserving it and making it accessible. However, since Sweden recognizes the special importance of the UN and traditionally supports the UN in a special way, one sees the possibility and chance to use the radio station Grimeton as an ambassador for the UN. For example, it is activated for special UN events

The Grimeton radio station as a museum

Preserving fundamental technology for posterity and preserving identity

The Swedes had their Grimeton radio station deep in the ground right from the start Closed heart. During the construction phase, people were afraid that the cows would only point their tails straight up into the sky or that thunderstorms would be magically attracted by the high transmission masts.

But now the operator, the Swedish Telia as a telecommunications company, a Grimeton radio station that she simply no longer needed from 1995. The long-wave transmitter Grimeton was long out of date and no machine transmitter was needed to operate the short-wave antennas. A demolition was an idea on the table.

There were many people, including at Telia, for whom such a step was unimaginable. As a result, the Swedish parliament recognized the Grimeton radio station by law as early as 1996 as a national industrial monument of Sweden and thus secured the funding for the maintenance of the long-wave transmitter Grimeton for an indefinite period.

The long-wave transmitter Grimeton is now one of the most important places in Sweden. The importance of the Grimeton radio station was emphasized by the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav when he sent a New Year’s message from Grimeton around the world at the turn of the millennium. It was based on the first New Year’s message that was sent from Grimeton.

After it was recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site, a simple modern reception building with an integrated café and a small, light exhibition was built in 2004. Pictures show the construction and operation of the system, graphics explain the range and function. Old Morse code machines, telegraphs and a selection of different cell phones can be found in showcases.

From the large windows you can see the two kilometer long transmitter. The regular tours in Swedish and English also start from here.

The museum also has an air raid shelter, which can be visited as part of a tour.

The Grimeton Radio Station, Varberg is also a uniquely outstanding monument, which represents the development process within communication technology in the time after the
First World War.

World Heritage Committee Suzhou China, July 2004

The radio village Grimeton

Clear structures

The radio village, a district of Grimeton, is also part of the Unesco World Heritage site. If you look from the machine house in the direction of the antennas, you will discover a small red and white building on the right edge of the forest. That was the laundry.

A settlement that was strictly planned according to the profession is not visible behind the strip of trees. In the front line the workers’ houses were built, in the line behind the executive employees and engineers. With a little distance behind it is the little villa of the station manager. Families lived in the houses, bachelors lived in the attic.

The strictly geometric arrangement is only from a bird’s eye view, but one should be careful not to use drones over the entire complex.

All houses and properties are now privately owned, so it seems strange to the residents when the small paths visited by strangers and the properties are photographed. You would also feel disturbed yourself.

Activities at the Grimeton radio station

For us and with us

As is known from most of Scandinavia’s museum establishments, the sights are pretty much alive. An adventure playground is currently being built for the little ones, while the older ones can climb some of the 127-meter-high masts.

There are also cultural exhibitions and concerts, traditional Christmas greetings, active support for the UN, a meeting point for radio amateurs and repeated test runs of the transmitter.

How active the Grimeton radio station is, however, ultimately depends on each individual. Be it to at least visit the café as a parking space user or to use a guided tour as a visitor. Because unfortunately nothing is free. So let’s give back to the places a little of what they give us.

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