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The Formation of the Fenland Repeater Group

During the summer of 1976 a proposal for the formation of a Repeater Group in Lincolnshire was made during the Spalding and district Amateur Radio society  'picnic' at Surfleet.

A group was formed with an inaugural meeting at the Ship Albion, Spalding, organised by G3VPR, with  guest speaker G8AMG, from the GB3PI Group. 

G3NNQ was elected secretary, G8CBB treasurer, and G3XDA chairman. Site tests were organised from Pilgrim Hospital, Boston and the Gables Hospital, Spilsby by G4DDI and G3NNQ. Tests were also carried out by G3REH from Winceby top H.O. site and from Highfields Farm in the Lincolnshire Wolds by G3VPR. Unfortunately, further tests had to be carried out due due to lift conditions on the day.

During December,1976 coverage maps were drawn up and an approach made to the  RSGB. We were informed that 2m repeaters were being delayed and were advised to apply for 70cm, the deadline for applications being April '77.

Further tests carried out during 1977 and 1978 from Pilgrim Hospital. A Pye U450L base station was aquired and made operational on RB0 for initial tests. (These units were well known for their spurious outputs, in fact some 70cm repeaters that used them could be worked using a 2m rig, such was the strength of signal radiated at f/3 !)

 During September,'78 the licence arrived and a Pye F470 base station was purchased from Pye with the proceeds from the Spilsby Junk Sale (60). Crystals were obtained from Quartslab, a control system built by G4DDI. 

The repeater became operational as GB3SL on 10th October 1978 , but in November,'78 GB3SL was closed down by the RSGB due to a licensing cock-up; they had it that we should have been on RB6.

 Meanwhile the application for a 2m unit was passed, and further tests carried out from Highfields Farm,  an elevated site in the Lincolnshire Wolds. A hut was constructed and aerial erected in true amateur fashion, from bits and pieces begged, borrowed or scrounged . Thus  GB3FR became operational on 10th December, 1978. 

Meanwhile there was much communication between us and the RSGB over 'SL. They were adamant that we should be on RB6, this was unacceptable to us as Nottingham were on this channel, and were workable in parts of our area. After much frustration in true RSGB style, G3UWD and G4DDI approached the RSGB General Manager in person at the Alexander Palace Amateur Radio Show (the forrunner to Pickett's Lock); the matter was sorted out within weeks, initially with a years trial, and we were also asked to give up GB3SL as this callsign was needed for South London. Callsign GB3SO (SOuth Lincolnshire) was allocated, and became operational on 1st June 1979. 

During the Summer of 1979 installation of a new 60ft mast was completed at 'FR, with a C5 colinear. This was found not to give the results expected, bringing in the DX, but not improving local coverage. This was removed later, and replaced with a 25 ft mast instead. 

At the 1980 AGM, G8TED became treasurer, and the subs (originally 1) were raised to 1.50.

 In 1982, G4DDI took over as treasurer and Sec. in the absence of anyone else prepared to do the job, and subs were raised to 2. Various appeals, donations etc kept us financially afloat until 1991, when the RSGB changed the arrangements and wanted payment of an 'administration' charge, and to formalise the arrangements for responsibility for the repeaters. A meeting was called at the Mill Inn Boston in May 1991 to discuss the future of the group. This was well attended, and decided that the repeaters must continue. The sub was raised to 5, a full committee was appointed, G3IWC chairman, G8IEV secretary and G4DDI remaining as treasurer and repeater keeper.

To be continued!