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Edinburgh was home to a number of Wireless Colleges in the first half of the 20th century.

They were no doubt busiest during WWII, training young men to be Merchant Navy Radio Officers and those working in Civil Aviation, hence the advertisements by some of them in the Watsonian magazine (see below) of George Watson's Boys College in Edinburgh. Some also were recruited into the RSS - Radio Security Service - to monitor German radio transmissions. The training included wireless technology and sending & receiving Morse code at the speeds required by those services. Information about these colleges is hard to come by, but we are working on it! Any contributions will be most welcome.

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Caledonian Wireless College, 22 Walker Street, Edinburgh. Closed June 1948.

Very little information has been found about this college, apart from the fact that it provided wireless telegraph training and that Sir James Redmond, Director of Engineering for the BBC 1968-79, studied there early in his career. The company owning the college was closed in June 1948 according to an entry in the Edinburgh Gazette.

This photo of The Cabin (shack) of the Caledonian Wireless College was taken in 1940 by J. Smith and was kindly supplied by Bruce McCartney GM4BDJ from the collection of David Welsh GM3BFU-SK of Kelso. He also supplied further information, from the book Radio War by David Abrutat (2019):

"During the war the College staff would select specific students who had the requisite skills for RSS (Radio Security Service) work. They were posted to the very large RSS station at Forfar which had been set up by Robin Addie G8LT, among others. There, the wireless operators worked an arduous shift pattern to maintain watch on German Intelligence Services radio networks. There were three shifts,  8am to 4pm, 4pm to midnight; and midnight to 8am. The teams would routinely listen into known frequencies, which were referred to as 'Schedule Operations', and also more speculative sweeps across a frequency range, which were known as 'General Searches'".

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Custom House, 67 Commercial St., Leith 

Whilst not a wireless college, Custom House, built in 1810-12 in Commercial Street, Leith, contained the Radio Surveyor's Office in which many aspiring Radio Amateurs including your scribe sat their 12 words per minute Morse test when this was a requirement for an Amateur Radio Licence. Scottish Historic Buildings Trust has leased it from Edinburgh City Council since 2015 and makes it available to artists & creatives as well as meetings and community spaces. Click for information.

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      Edinburgh Wireless College, 4 Torphichen St; later 17 Gayfield Square.   

The only information found so far about this college are advertisements in The Watsonian magazine in 1943 & 1949:

Watsonian magazine, January 1943.

Watsonian magazine, November 1949 

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Leith Nautical College,104/106 Commercial St, Leith; later Milton Road E.

(1855 - 1987)

Leith Nautical College - 59 Commercial St Leith (until 1978).

Photo courtesy of Leith Local History Society 

Leith Nautical College moved to a new location at Brunstane in Milton Road East in 1978. The college was merged with the Glasgow College of  Nautical Studies in 1987 and was subsequently closed about 10 years later.. Photo courtesy Mike Gathergood G4KFK.

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Rather than re-write what already exists, here are links to several websites that describe the history of this institution. Several members of the Lothians Radio Society studied at LNC and gained their certificates there. 

The history of LNC is described in the book "The Sea Dominies - The Story of Leith Nautical College1855-1987" by Iain Crawford, Board of Governors of Leith Nautical College, 1987. However, it contains only brief references to radio/ wireless training and not a single photograph of a morse key!

Websites:

Leith Nautical College - Leith Local History Society  

                                                        Training at Leith Nautical College - Edinphoto-org

(Note: in this article, No.2, R. Henderson of Burdiehouse was GM4DTJ-SK).

Leith Nautical College - Gashe

Leith Nautical College - Trinity House Maritime Museum

See also "Leith Nautical College Radio Club" on this website. (click).

 

Reproduced with acknowledgement to Derek Blair, Australia, formerly an officer with Ben Line in Leith.

The Training Ship Dolphin was used by LNC students for practical work. 

See also: TS Dolphin - Edinphoto.org 

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 North British Wireless College, 21 West Maitland Street, Edinburgh.

As with the Edinburgh Wireless College, the only information found about the North British Wireless College is an advertisement carried by The Watsonian magazine, in January 1943.

The building, adjacent to Haymarket railway station, is now used for private flats.

Watsonian magazine, January 1943.

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