Remembering Rediffusion: Trinidad

Radio Trinidad Station Transmitters

Maraval Road,   Port of Spain
Trinidad.   Tel. 6565

Looking back at Rediffusion Trinidad

Radio Trinidad’s Headquarters in Port of Spain 1970’s

Rediffusion in Trinidad was a fundamentally different proposition from it’s service in England which was primarily a matter of diffusing BBC programmes so that listeners could hear them better and more easily than they could on an ordinary radio receiver.

In Trinidad there are were no broadcasting stations from which Rediffusion could obtain inputs and nearly all radio reception was by short wave, either from England, America or Canada.

Long distance reception by short wave was always at the mercy of fading and distortion, to say nothing of sunspots and tropical static.

The result of  that was, for quite long periods, short wave transmissions carrying music had little entertainment value, sometimes even speech was unintelligible, and reception was generally unreliable.

In 1947, Broadcast Relay Services, as part of it’s overseas expansion opened it’s Rediffusion service in Trinidad with commercial broadcasting both over air and over its two programme wired sound distribution network. The company had obtained a franchise for broadcasting in the colony which entailed, in addition to the above mentioned commitments, the erection of a completely new transmitting station and new studios to go with it. The Trinidad Broadcasting Company Limited was formed.

Early programming consisted largely of re-broadcast B.B.C. material. In addition to the input from the receiving station, a considerable portion of programming was originated in the Rediffusion studios, in particular, the children’s hour, local news bulletins and interviews with important visitors to the island. Local talent was also given its opportunity to perform live on the station.

Later, outside broadcasts from functions of general interest became very popular to the listeners.

The Transmitter

A new 2-Kw transmitter, designed to cover the whole of Trinidad and also other island of the West Indies group was installed and commissioned in 1947 following earlier delays because of availability following WWII. A building to house the Transmitter was erected at Caroni Swamp, about 13 miles from Port of Spain. The original Transmitter was of American manufacture and radiated a signal on 1295 Kc/s is in the medium wave band providing for reception in the area which included Port of Spain and San Fernando.

A second transmission radiating simultaneously the short wave frequency of  9625 Kc/s served the perimeter of the colonies and for this purpose a Redifon G40 transmitter has been installed.

The antenna system comprised two 125 foot masts and one 80 foot mast supporting stacked vertical dipoles.

Extension of Service

Around this time the cable service was extended to include the town of San Fernando. New premises were obtained and an overhead network was installed using star quad and dumb-bell cables as the type of building wired made these methods ideal.

Programming was be fed from Port of Spain via a V.H.F. link operated at 73 Mc/s. The transmitter unit for this equipment was manufactured by Rediffusion Ltd. at the Wandsworth factory.

The 120 foot broadcast aerial masts.
Radio Trinidad Station Transmitters
The Branch Building at San Fernando. 1947

Trinidad and Tobago Rediffusion ran the two programme wired audio network up until the Autumn of 1974 when it ceased to be profitable and was finally closed and replaced by Rediffusion Trinidad and Radio Trinidad operating on both AM and FM.

By this time Rediffusion were doing a flourishing business in television rental and sales. There were more than 8,000 subscribers (out of a population of one million).

Trinidad and Tobago Television went colour during 1976, so it  a busy period for Rediffusion getting a colour business established. The television rental business, after a slow start, developed steadily, and was a particularly attractive option as the cash price of a standard aerial colour set at that time was £700!

Edward McDowell, EIC of Trinidad Broadcasting with the Automation Equipment for transmission of  Radio 95,  Trinidad’s ‘Beautiful Music’ service.
Broadcasting House Port of Spain Pictured in 1946
Broadcasting House Port of Spain Pictured in 1946
Radio Trinidad’s entry for the 1947 Island Carnival.
Rediffusion Trinidad HQ  in the 1960’s
Rail Station Port-of-Spain July 1946
Trinidad Carnival 1946

Original article published as part of the Remembering Rediffusion Limited 1928-1988 website created by Gerald Clode.

The website is tribute to Rediffusion and the many thousands of staff worldwide who worked for the organisation. It includes historical information and images of all aspects of the Group’s businesses.

Associated Companies in over 175 towns in Great Britain and in Barbados, Bermuda. Canada, Ceylon, Guyana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Malaya, Malta, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and West Africa etc.

Original material remains © and is only to be used for non-commercial personal or research use. Any other use requires permission of the author.

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  1. I remembered Radio Trinidad very well which was once located next door to TTT at 11B Maraval Road. It had since been demolished in 2003 where Digicel now takes over the spot at where it once stood.