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Bergen radio broadcasting station at

The round mane

On one of Bergen's seven mountains lie the remains of Rundemanen radio, which was Norway's first and most important long-range coastal radio. The radio link significantly increased safety at sea, as the shipping companies and families on land had direct contact with the ships and crew.

Bergen radio - Rundemanen. Photo: Terje Norli


The Round Man has played a significant role in the development of commercial telecommunications. After the Storting granted NOK 80,000 for the construction of Bergen Radio in May 1911, the station could be officially opened on 1 September 1912, and was the first coastal radio station in the country intended for correspondence with ships, an important and necessary social mission. The station's main purpose was to ensure safety at sea. The radio had weather reports at fixed times, and in 1912-13 four employees dispatched 1,400 telegrams. In 1959-60, the number of telegrams had increased to over 530,000. At most, the station had 25 permanent employees with settled families, a small community of its own.

Bergen Radio's transmission station, 1957. The transmission building in the foreground. Bergen Radio's transmission station, 1957. The transmission building in the foreground.

One of the most important coastal radio stations

Rundemanen is located three kilometers north-east of the center of Bergen, at an altitude of 560 metres. The location was chosen partly because it was beyond the range of enemy armored ship guns, partly because the height above the sea should give the signals a longer range. The location made the station one of the most important coastal radio stations until the 1960s. Coastal radio was of great importance to shipping for many decades, especially during the First World War, where the station ensured contact with vessels in the North Atlantic. Later, employees at Rundemanen carried out experimental shortwave broadcasts which meant that the facility was literally noticed and heard all over the world. Its location 560 meters above sea level and three kilometers northeast of Bergen city center made it one of the most important coastal radio stations until the 1960s.

In 1912, the transmitter was a 5 kW spark transmitter from Telefunken which had a range of 350 nautical miles. This transmitter is today at The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology in Oslo. In 1922 it was replaced with a tube-powered transmitter, the first in Europe. The following year, this transmitter was modified for telephony with the call sign LGN.

 

Flag, raised at half-mast at King Haakon's death in 1957. PhotoFlag, raised at King Haakon's death in 1957. The flag was found by M. Grastvedt in May 1940, it had been used as a doormat by Germans during the occupation.

Weather forecast service 

The pipe-driven transmitter was rebuilt in 1923, so that weather reports could also be sent by telephone. From the summer of 1923, two daily weather reports were sent by telephone and telegraph. The messages were based on weather observations from ships, which had been processed by the weather forecasting institute, after which Rundemanen sent out reports on gales, storms, wind direction and visibility for the most important areas.

 

Magnus Grastvedt, manager of Bergen radio, 1955. PhotoMagnus Grastvedt, manager of Bergen radio, 1955.

Vital medical assistance

In 1949, in collaboration with Haukeland Hospital, a Medical Service was established, where ships could receive medical advice from doctors in the event of illness and accidents on board. This is still a free service that ships from all nations can make use of, where doctors on shore diagnose and advise treatment, based on the symptoms given. Radio Medico Norway still serves Norway's largest health region - the sea, and over the years some complicated operations have been carried out via this service. John Myhre, who operated the radio service alone from 1949 to 1984, was awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for his efforts. In 2015, the number of inquiries was around 3,500.

 

Personnel at the Bergen radio receiving station, 1958-59. Photo. Personnel at the Bergen radio receiving station, from left: Signature Apk (Piten?) Nina Ellefsen Barsnes, Horvei and Myka(?) Photo believed to have been taken in 1958-59.

Technical innovations

The competence among the employees at Bergen radio was high. In 1927, they themselves constructed shortwave transmitters and antenna equipment, and took the initiative to dispatch telegrams in the shortwave (HF) range. On 11 February 1927, Bergen Radio received Norway's first telegram on HF, sent from the whaling ship Sir James Clark Ross in Antarctica, approximately 7,000 quarter miles (approximately 13,000 kilometers) away.

As early as 1925, a separate receiving station was established in Fyllingsdalen, so that the facility at Rundemanen became a pure transmitting station, and staffing was considerably reduced. After World War II, the receiving station was moved to Helleneset. In 1960, the shortwave service was transferred to Rogaland radio, while Rundemanen continued as a transmission station for telephone and telegraph on medium wave and from the beginning of the 60s also VHF. The station was staffed until 1982. Then the mess and the clerk's building were demolished at once, but the station building and engine house were allowed to stand. The two houses were listed in 2007.

 

Tor and Jarl Skribeland, July 1957 (assumed). Photo. Tor and Jarl Skribeland, July 1957 (assumed).

In 1927, the station received ship radio service on shortwave.
The service was moved to Rogaland radio in the early 1960s, while Bergen radio continued as a coastal radio station on the medium wave. In 1930, the expedition was moved to Fyllingsdalen, while the station at Rundemannen continued as a transmitter station. The expedition was moved to Helleneset shortly after the Second World War.

The station was staffed until 1982. Bergen radio was closed in 2004 and is today remotely controlled from Rogaland radio. The radio station's last assignment was the Rocknes accident (external link) in January 2004, when the cargo ship Rocknes sank in Vatlestraumen and 18 of the crew perished. Bergen radio then operated emergency channel 16 and took care of all communications in the area together with Rogaland radio.

A community of its own

At one point, as many as 25 people lived on top of Rundemanen, several of them children. Those of school age had to walk the dirt road to Fløyfjellet every day, and take the track to Christi Krybbe school. Originally there were several houses up on the mountain plateau. Radio telegraph operators, technicians, a caretaker, a cook and other crew were accommodated in a large two-storey civil servant's residence. The house contained the manager's apartment and mess on the first floor, while the second floor consisted of dormitories. All rooms had electricity installed, and there was a bathtub in the basement. Water was pumped from a nearby pond. The sewer went straight out into the ground. The officials' residence was demolished in 1982.

 

Inside the transmission room. In the foreground on the right, antenna selector with 1st selector for shortwave transmitters. Photo Inside the transmission room. In the foreground on the right, antenna selector with 1st selector for shortwave transmitters. Otherwise dispatch table for 5000kHz. "Very densely packed room".

A collection of houses in a mountain landscape. Historical photo of Rundemanen radio's transmission station.

Bergen Radio's transmission station, summer 1958, seen from the south-east. Photo: The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology .

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