Hamr: WOTA: Windmills On The Air

On a weekend in May each year radio amateurs set up stations in windmills and watermills all over the country. Apart from being an exciting time for those involved, the event promotes both the site itself and also amateur radio since members of the public encounter enthusiasts at work. The event is organised in conjunction with SPAB.


The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded in 1877 to counteract the highly destructive ‘restoration’ of medieval buildings being practiced by many Victorian architects. Today it is the largest, oldest and most technically expert national pressure group fighting to save old buildings from decay, demolition and damage. Their membership includes many of the leading conservation practitioners as well as homeowners living in houses spanning all historical periods and those who simply care about old buildings. Thousands of buildings survive which otherwise would have been lost, mutilated or badly repaired without their intervention.

How the event started

Some nine years ago, Jasmine Marshall, G4KFP, a member of Denby Dale Amateur Radio Society (DDARS) spotted a request in the RSGB news asking for any radio amateur willing to put on a station at one of their windmills or watermills. She contacted SPAB and initially agreed a plan for six groups of amateurs to establish at six buildings. As the word spread however this number rocketed to 30. DDARS then designed QSL cards and log books for the event and also created an award certificate to be issued to any individual or group having worked ten stations or more. After Jasmine, Brian – G0BFJ and Tony G4LLZ continued to organise the event and the centrally produced QSL cards were dropped as organisers prefered to produce their own. Indeed the competition is such that some beautiful cards have been sent out by the special event stations.

Current organisation

The event organiser today is Gerald Edinburgh, G3SDY. He has recently retired from work so has more time at his disposal for operating amateur radio and organising Denby Dale club events. He is and has been Chairman of Denby Dale Radio Club on and off for many years.

Gerald will begin the next process in January 2010 by e-mailing parties he knows have been involved before, inviting them to participate again. He has started to compile a list which grew to 39 by the time of the event this year. If you wish to operate from a mill, contact him as soon as you are able, so that details can be included on the Denby Dale Club web site.

We were very pleased to read the publicity given to the event in the radio publications and would like to thank the groups involved. Feel free to refer to this website in any pre-publicity and contact us if you need any help in this respect.

It is the responsibility of groups to make their own arrangements with the mill they wish to operate from. They may obtain a special event call sign from the RSGB, for example GB2GW has been used for Gleaston Water Mill (see the ‘Special Event Callsigns’ pages in this Year-book). Groups should arrange with the trustees of the mill any advertising in the press or local radio and perhaps invite dignitaries. The radio equipment and aerials they use and the bands and modes that they wish to work are entirely a matter for them.

In the past certificates have been issued to stations working 10 Mills (most were sent by email) This year we would like to extend the invitation to historic steam powered Mills. (Even modern eco-friendly wind generators may wish to be included )

Please email g3sdy@aol.com with your opinions.

Operating a GB station

To create the best impression with members of the public visiting the mill, make sure they are able to see the operators and hear clearly what is going on (it looks awful if all they see are the back of people wearing headphones). Greet them and explain what you are doing. Give them publicity material, so that any who are interested in finding out more about amateur radio can easily do so.
It is also useful to consider which are the most appropriate bands to use, because most members of the public are likely to find the operation far more impressive if they hear someone in a foreign land being contacted, in addition to making your station available to UK collectors on the usual LF bands and VHF UHF. It would be nice to hear more use being made of 160m this year as we go through sunspot minimum.


4 thoughts on “Hamr: WOTA: Windmills On The Air

  1. Thanks for the update! Either I’m ignorant (which is never an excuse), or the organization should invest a bit more time in PR πŸ™‚


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