It's always tea-time . . . put the kettle on . . .

As a virtual club we get to put the kettle on whenever we want. So before we get going it is for a brew of tea.We know that UK Ham Radio Clubs much prefer drinking tea to actually getting on the air. However, PARC spends more time on the air than drinking tea, but we still find time to create webpages dedicated to both activities. . . .

Back at the end of the 19th Century tea (char, chai, etc) was already a major part of British life and there were dozens of tea brands to choose from. Some of these have disappeared from sale in only the last 30 years, but others remain. Popular brands included Mazawattee, Liptons, Hornimans, Lyons, and many others, which were mostly Indian and Ceylon teas endorsed by royalty and even some explorers. The notion of 'Empire' was especially strong. A little later - in the 1930s - Brooke Bond, Typhoo and PG Tips grew in prominence, but there were scores of brands available at any one time.

Hornimans' Pure Tea - 'pure' because it had no sawdust or mouse droppings - was very popular, and the packets suggested that it was drunk by royalty. Advertising laws would now forbid such spurious claims. Hornimans' branding aimed the tea at the nobility and, if they had existed in those days, G2, and G3 licence holders. The lower classes would probably have settled for Liptons, or more likely, Co-op tea. Most brands were typically sold as quarter pound packs, but loose tea was freely available from local corner grocers' shops and 'chain stores' like 'Maypole' or 'Home & Colonial' stores.

Of course, for clubs the ideal choice would have been a version Mazawattee tea - labelled as for "Old Folks At Home" - This could be re-introduced especially for the amateur radio market as "Old Farts In The Shack" . We'd buy a packet . . . we already have a few Ginger Nuts (both with G3 callsigns).Back in the days of recyclable packaging Mazawattee was available in a nice metal 'tin' which was great as a box for junk or as the basis of an ATU project, etc

In the beginning - at the end of the 19th Century - there were spark-gap transmitters. These produced a very broad-band radio signal rather like the splatter from some kilowat contest stations today but across many kilocycles in the longwave end of the radio spectrum. They were especially noise-some because, using Morse, the transmitters were keyed directly, at high voltages, producing large clicks as the Morse key opened and closed.Initially, radiocommunications were the preserve of shipping companies and ocean liners and used for both 'company traffic' and personal messages - telegrams - sent and received by passengers. The largest radiocommunications 'provider' - and subsequently most dominant one was the Marconi Company rented out their equipment (and operators ) to the shipping lines.

Because of the nature of the transmissions the operators were colloquially called 'Sparks' and this is still evident today on the Radio Operator badges of the armed forces.

Back to radio while the kettle boils . .