Progress Through Activity

WESTLAKES
Amateur Radio Club Inc.

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Our History Part 2

 


 


Westlakes first 50 Years - Part-1

  
We have long heard that the Westlakes Amateur Radio Club was formed in 1964, but the idea got under way a few years earlier at the Central Coast Field Day at Gosford in 1960. The Idea was promoted by Keith Howard VK2AKX and it started by forming a radio hobby class at the Booragul High School.

   Classes were held in 1964 with the aid of the Youth Radio Scheme and the school group used the call VK2AKX. Two years earlier, in 1962, the call sign VK2ATZ had been issued to the Booragul High School Radio Club in readiness for the "perhaps" and yet-to-be-named radio club. in 1964, the school group ceased to be and Westlakes was formed, taking over VK2ATZ as its official call.

   Local amateurs became interested in a new club and the first inklings of better things to come came from those who attended electronics classes held in the garage of "Belmont Bob" VK2BOB at Belmont. This group finally chose the name "Westlakes", but it was very nearly "Eastlakes".

   In April 1964, a meeting was held in the church hall in Railway Street, Teralba. It was then and there that Westlakes Amateur Radio Club was officially formed. The club shared the hall with a kindergarten. Soon aerials went up, Morse was taught, and the first of the teenage and adult members got their own amateur licences. Youth Radio Scheme classes were held on a Saturday afternoon and the adult classes on a Wednesday night.

   It was during these humble beginnings that "Electronics On The Air" was born. Two operators, two call signs, Keith VK2AKX and Jan Oostervene VK2BJO, regular call backs were received from as far away as New Zealand. The broadcast was carried out on
7.050 MHz. One venture at the Railway Street Teralba location was the construction of a semi-professional broadcasting booth. The venture went as far as having two sheets of glass with an air gap as this was supposed to minimise the transfer of sound waves through air, it didn't work! Club member David Russell VK2BSC (an ABC Broadcasting Engineer) came up with the solution that one of the panels of glass had to be set at a slight angle to the other. They could not be parallel.  This was sorted abd the broadcast had a very professional sound. Another thing which Keith Howard introduced at the beginning of all official broadcasts was the sounding (on air) of three gongs from an xylophone. This set Westlakes aside as a professional broadcaster until the Authority of the time came down heavily and said 'no,no,no.
 
   One microphone, and one transmitter, and "Dorothy Dix" style questions and answers. This was highly illegal on any amateur band, but anyone listening would have thought it was thought a genuine two-way contact.

   Another way locals found out about the club was through a column in the Newcastle Morning Herald. It was called, "News for Radio Amateurs". The name of the journalist was Jennifer Cox. I (Paul Linsley VK2BPL) was in fact at the Club in Railway Street Teralba on numerous occasions when she came to collect news relative to the Club. On one particular occasion I had bought my three transistor super-regerative radio receiver (which was a project for the Youth Radio Scheme) to the Club and she noticed it and came and interviewed me about it. The comment (however small) was in the Saturday morning edition. Keith Howard was not know especially for coming to the Club 'in drag' and Jennifer Cox was a very pretty young girl in her late teens, early twenties so I think I would have known the difference. Jennifer's father Frank Cox was a 'full call' Radio Amateur who held a senior position at the Newcastle Morning Herald.  She also had another column, "Out and About with Jennifer Cox". Funny enough, it always mentioned Westlakes and the time, place and details of the club's weekly fox hunts.

   Westlakes Monthly Newsletter started as a single issue sheet in 1967 and has not missed an issue since. What started as a simple duplicated sheet has developed today into a first rate monthly magazine. Its quality and content are unmatched by any radio club publication in the country.

   A name change for the club was a close thing in its first year of existence. The name "Westlakes" was derived from a general classification of the local area. As members were now joining from further afield, many though the name be changed to "Northumberland" to imply a wider coverage and influence. It didn't happen.

   The first Annual General Meeting was held in late 1964 after a steering committee had drafted a proposed constitution and by-laws. After a few years, there was a push by the local council to upgrade the old Railway Street church hall in Teralba. This meant an increase in rent and due to the club's meager funds the  search was on for something more affordable. The committee decided to accept an offer to be housed in the old "Royal Theatre" building in Anzac Parade, Teralba. This building was certainly larger but very dilapidated. The year was 1969.

   1970 was a very progressive year as the club forged ahead in leaps and bounds. This was the time that the motto, "Progress Through Activity" came into being. Club members would operate portable in the Wattagan Ranges, Mt Munibung and the Teralba Quarry Hill, during contests and attend home and away fox-hunt field days. But "Progress Through Activity" came to a sudden halt in 1972. The Royal Theatre became no longer available.

   Every stick of timber the club had erected for partitions and such was dismantled and placed in storage. That storage area was the Teralba Hardware Shop (now closed) on the corner of Anzac Parade and York Street. Today, that stored timber forms many of the inside walls of the present clubrooms.

   The next two years were to be the toughest in the club's history. It was dismal time as the club had moved to a disused, cramped church hall in Ranclaud Street, Booragul. This was the newsletter birthplace of "Mr Vigilance", the Westlakes cat. During the years until 1973, secret negotiations were being held with select people at Lake Macquarie City Council to obtain a most appropriate site of land at Teralba. Our three "in on the deal" were Brian Jones VK2BRO, Joe Waugh VK2IQ, and Max McLachlan.


   Later that year, a cartoon of a very wet, black cat appeared in the club's newsletter. The caption read, "The Cat's out of the bag!" meaning that the deal had been done and everyone could be told. The "treasure" land was in York Street, Teralba and was actually a lake flood plain on an unmade street. The same team located a disused ex-RAAF Rathmines hut had been abandoned at Dora Creek. The club only had to transport it somehow to Teralba.

   A donation of $500 by Bill Otty VK2ZL started the "Drop In The Bucket" building fund. Five more members went guarantors for a bank loan of $5,000 - a princely sum at that time. It had taken ten years for Westlakes to get a permanent home and if you close your eyes, it was beautiful. Our new building was certainly a blot on the landscape and there was much work to be done. It would take months for our supporters who gave their time in droves. A sprinkling of those supporters are still with us.

   During the period before the relocated RAAF hall in York Street was ready for occupation, classes went on as usual at the hall in Ranclaud Street, Booragul. Another team, even on cold winter nights, were toiling away using portable lighting to get the building into a semblance of order. The perimeters of the grounds were covered with heaps of demolition and construction debris and the area soon degenerated into a local unofficial dumping ground, from time to time, the mounds of debris were bulldozed free of charge by somebody who knew someone. It was the desire of both the club and the Council that the "dump image" not get out of hand.

   An extension to the south of the building was built to contain the "secretary's office" with a space left for non-existing toilets. A little skullduggery in the right direction saw the local State Member of Parliament gaining the club a government grant to install the toilets. That now ex-local parliamentarian remains today, a patron of the club. The original entry to the club was directly opposite the existing Secretary's office.


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Westlakes Amateur Radio Club Inc. York Street, Teralba NSW