In the age of the cell phone almost every place on earth can be reached within seconds. That said, less than 100 years ago wireless communication demanded gigantic technical equipment. The clearest example of this is the radio station in Grimeton near Varberg that was built in 1924 on the southwest coast of Sweden. A total of six 127 meter high aerial towers stand at a distance of 380 metres from one another in the open landscape. They tower over a decorative neoclassical station building and seven houses for the staff. The heart of this imposing technical monument is the last remaining operational mechanical transmitting station in the world. It functions completely without electronics – they had not yet been invented. Instead a generator provided the power needed for the radio waves to transmit code messages at the speed of light to America. At the time this was a sensation. Nowadays Grimeton is the sole remaining operating longwave transmitting station that still looks the same as it was at the time it was built. Even the old station car still exists; a lovingly polished Chevrolet built in 1931. In 2004 the radio station was inscribed into the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.
On 2nd July 1925 King Gustav V of Sweden insisted on personally opening the radio station at Grimeton. He was accompanied to the ceremony by the Swedish electrical engineer Ernst Alexanderson who had previously made a career for himself in the United States and could look back on a whole stack of patents. One of his pioneering inventions was the Alexanderson alternator, an alternating current generator for long wave radio transmission. This was the first machine to enable radio waves to be transmitted over long distances. For a time around 20 Alexanders and alternators made up a radio network which spanned the world.
One of these, starting in 1925, was Grimeton. Thanks to the flat landscape the radio waves had no difficulty in passing over the Skagerrak straight via Scotland and the Atlantic Ocean to their final destination at the reception station on Long Island, New York The telegraphs they carried were in Morse code and had to be translated back into words by telegraphers in New York before being distributed throughout the country by telegram boys. There were more than enough contacts in America. At the end of the 19th century huge waves of emigrants had left Sweden in search of happiness in the United States. Often they left friends and relations behind forever. Wireless radio connections via Grimeton Radio Station offered the first opportunity for them to exchange messages and news quickly and reliably. In the Second World War Sweden remained neutral and thanks to Grimeton Radio Station it became a very important news base. But mechanical transmitting stations quickly became insignificant when faced with the challenge of electronic valves. After this they were used almost exclusively for military purposes. Grimeton Radio Station fell silent in during the 1980th. In 1996 the excellently maintained historic site was listed as a cultural heritage. The Alexanderson alternator – the world’s last transmitter of its kind – still goes into operation for visitors on certain days. It’s Morse code messages can be picked up throughout the whole of Europe.
|Recommended duration of visit:||2 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||50 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
June to August:
daily 10am-5pm (variations occur, see homepage for program and activities)
May and September:
Saturday, Sunday 10am-3pm