The early history of the Macclesfield radio club was gleaned from the annals of the late Dr Eric T Webster B.Sc., PhD., callsign G3JQ, kindly loaned by his wife Ali, who now holds the call sign of G3JQ.
The club was formed as the Macclesfield & District Amateur Radio Society (M.D.R.S.), the first meeting of which took place in the old Liberal Club (now demolished) in Queen Victoria Street on 17th June 1958. The people present were well known to one another, being licensed and having communicated with each other “on the air”.
The licenced amateurs present were:-
Bert Poynton G3IR
Eric Webster G3JQ
W. Howorth G3AHF
H. Buckley G3CZO
Tony Foster G3GAH (later became GW3GAH after moving to Wales)
Brian Horsfall G3GKG
Dennis Brough G3HUR
Roy Walmsley G3IBB (later became ZB1SS after moving to Gibraltar)
Lou Bond G3LDT
Fred Olwen G3LVJ
Bernard Haywood G3MKR
For some time meetings were held in The Bruce Arms, Crompton Road, The George Hotel, Hibel Road and then at 42 Jordangate. Meetings were quite informal, with lectures given and films shown.
In later years, the club took up residence in a wooden shed within the grounds of the Pack Horse Bowling Club on Westminster Road, Macclesfield. Members of the radio club were also social members of the bowling club, and therefore able to use the bar and function room facilities.
Allan Denny G0JNJ became chairman of the club and oversaw a long period of significant development. As the amateur radio movement in the UK modernised its examination procedures, Allan extended the range of training and development opportunities available to both members and non-members.
The club delivered regular courses at all three levels – Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced – of the UK amateur radio licence, something it continues to do to this day. By providing for appropriate interventions, the club was able to adapt courses in order to accept candidates with physical or learning disabilities.
Club activities included field days where tents, stations and antennas would be set up in local farms with good locations for radio. These were well supported by members young and old. As the demographic of the membership became gradually younger, activities such as “Fox hunting” (a kind of radio “hide and seek”) and SOTA (‘Summits on the Air’) became popular. Talks and presentations on these, and other activities were held on Monday evenings at the radio club. It was apparent that the club’s old, rotting wooden accommodation was quickly becoming unfit for purpose. The club was trying hard to increase its appeal to local people with an interest in radio and electronics, as well as cater for all age groups and people with disability. Therefore, an application was made to Awards For All, the body charged with distributing the “good cause” monies raised by the UK’s National Lottery. The club was successful in this bid, and was awarded an amount of money that allowed it to install a new portcabin with a meeting/teaching room, and a separate radio room. In addition, a concrete ramp with wooden railings was built and installed to further enhance the accessibility. A celebration opening event took place with many visitors joining us from around the county, including our local RSGB (‘Radio Society of Great Britain’) region managers. Guest of honour, was Mrs Ali Webster G3JQ, widow of our founder Dr Eric Webster (the original G3JQ), who performed the official opening of the new facility.
Other celebration events took place at the club for the visit of the then RSGB President, Angus Annan MM1CCR, and for the club’s 50 th Anniversary. A special callsign of GB5OMR was issued by Ofcom to commemorate this event and amateur radio contacts were made with thousands of operators around the globe. A “homecoming” event was held when members Tom Read M1EYP and son Jimmy Read (then M3EYP, aged 13) completed a 268 mile hike along the Pennine Way, during which they operated amateur radio from every mountain summit along the route.
The club has supported local charities and raised significant sums for the MS Society and local organisation Friends for Leisure through sponsored amateur radio activities. A team of operators has held “DXpeditions” from the Scottish Isles of Arran and Colonsay using the club callsign GS4MWS/P, and made many thousands of contacts worldwide.
MADARS supports local cub and scout groups with Communication badges and JOTA (Jamboree On The Air) events. The club also has a partnership with Congleton ATC (Air Cadets) and provides Foundation Licence amateur radio training to both youngsters and adult civilian instructors.
The Macclesfield & District Amateur Radio Society has worked hard to promote the traditions and technical nature of amateur radio in the local area. It has strived to be fully inclusive and accessible to all, and to provide support for all interested parties to develop and train in order to meet their potential and match their aspirations. The club provides a support network for members, offering a new interest and a new circle of friends. It promotes a hobby based on technology and communication, and is therefore equally appropriate for all ages, genders and abilities.