History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Biographies/Herbert Arthur Warden
Herbert Arthur Warden[edit | edit source]
A comprehensive biography of Herbert Arthur Warden has not yet been prepared for this Wikibook, however the following resources have been assembled in preparation:
- Research - Herbert Arthur Warden - Summary of research to date
- Transcriptions and Notes - Herbert Arthur Warden - More than 40 transcriptions
- Photos, QSL cards and other graphics - Herbert Arthur Warden - Nothing uploaded as yet, but several photos available in Trove
- Incubator of Wikipedia Article on Walter Herbert Arthur Warden - Coming real soon now!
Key internet links:
No internet material located to date.
Pending further progress on the foregoing, the following lovely article by an unidentified Sydney Evening News journalist providing a snapshot of Warden's work at Narrabri District School in July 1913.
The Song of the Radio. Being an account of the Wireless Station at Narrabri District School. "Tata-ta-taaa. . . . Ta-ta-ta-taaa.' The sounds, persistent and distinct, repeated at frequent intervals and several times on each occasion come humming into our ears. We pull tighter the leather straps around our heads, and press more closely to our ears the telephone receivers. Again the impatient "Ta-ta-ta-taaa," and now the sound varies — new measures of staccato notes, quick, clear, persuasive, like the tapping on an elfin zylophone, attract us. For the first time in our lives we hear the song of the radio, distant and eerie, borne to us by air sprites. It holds us enthralled. We forget our world, our entity, our humanity, and obliterating time and space, we — "Do you hear that?" Down to earth again with a thud. The question came from Mr. Warden, the expert, whose name has been mentioned so often lately in connection with the wireless station at Narrabri District School. "Yes, we hear it quite plainly — ta-ta-ta-taaa — but we hardly understand what it all means." "No, I suppose not," he remarked with a smile; "quite simple though for one who knows the international codes. It's a message from Melbourne, between 700 and 800 miles away. The first sounds, dots and dashes, meaning P.O.M. (i.e., Melbourne Radio Station) were the call. You notice they were repeated twice, as all radio message are. Those following were part of a business communication, which Pennant Hills station will soon transmit to one of the mail steamers off the coast. Of course, anyone who has a station can receive a private message if it is not in code, but to divulge it would be an offence against courtesy, and (if you will notice the wording of my licence) the law. Further —" Crackle, crack, crack, crackle! burst in on us suddenly. To our amazed inquiry came the calm response — "Only static — stray atmospheric electricity." The crackling continued for some time, and as, when it stopped, the message had also ended, we took the opportunity to look around us. The "cabin" in which we were was once a school hat room, but is now fitted with tables and other furniture, pictures of Edison, Tesla, and Marconi; charts, maps, and diagrams of wireless apparatus adorn the walls; on the benches are numerous electrical instruments, and batteries from which mysterious wires run up the wall, out of the roof, into the open air, where they are joined to an "aerial" 60ft high and 180ft long. At this moment our attention was drawn to new sounds in the receiver. After a time they ceased, and the operator explained that it was the daily weather forecast sent out from Brisbane. These are transmitted from each official station every evening in order to keep ocean steamers posted. Other faint sounds being heard, the operator moved a slider on a coil system, and they gradually became louder until, when the gilder coil fitted inside another, is the "tuner," and when the slide reaches the point of maximum loudness the stations are said to be "in tune." The "tuner" is fitted to an instrument called a "detector," in which two pieces of mineral crystal, about ¼in thick, are brought into contact. These "detect" the waves that strike them, and load off little currents of electricity into the receivers, where they are transformed into audible sounds. For an hour we sat listening to this tapping. Messages were flying towards us with unimaginable speed. Unseen beings — fulfilling Puck's boast — were sending forth their thoughts, which, hurtling through space, unheeded and unknown by those uninitiated into the mysteries of wireless telegraphy, were entrapped by the "aerial," and imprisoned in the cunningly contrived labyrinth of wires, were forced to reveal their secrets. They came from one capital to another, from ships hundreds of miles at sea to the harbor they wished to reach. Some messages were merely reports; some asked advice on various subjects; others sent greetings to friends. Now, a ship in Bass Straits informed an anxious friend that "the family in cabin No. — were all well, and sent their love." Now vice-royalty exchanged courtesies. Perhaps the most interesting and tragic was that from a well-known steamer, asking for a detective to meet it when it reached port. How long does it take tor these messages to travel?" "Well, a message from Sydney (350 miles away) gets here in less that one-fivehundredth of a second. The mountains don't affect the rate of travelling in the least." We were astonished, but our amazement in-
(Start Photo Caption) VIEW OF THE DISTRICT SCHOOL, NARRABRI, SHOWING THE AERIAL WIRE ON WHICH MESSAGES UP TO DISTANCES OF 2000 MILES HAVE BEEN RECEIVED. (End Photo Caption)
(Start Photo Caption) MR. H. A. WARDEN, OF THE DISTRICT SCHOOL, NARRABRI, AND MR. T. J. BLACKWELL, TELEGRAPH OPERATOR, IN THE COMMONWEALTH SERVICE, USING TWO 'PHONES FOR THE RECEIPT OF ONE MESSAGE. (End Photo Caption)
(Start Photo Caption) BOYS EXPERIMENTING AND ADJUSTING APPARATUS. EACH OF THE LADS HERE SHOWN OWNS A SMALL WIRELESS STATION. (End Photo Caption)
(Start Photo Caption) A PUPIL AT WORK ON THE LATHE, WHICH IS FITTED IN THE MANUAL TRAINING ROOMS. (End Photo Caption)
creased when we were told that, with the puny instruments at present used in the station, calls had been heard from Adelaide, Brisbane, Tasmania, and Thursday Island (1800 miles distant). Broome has been heard across Australia, a distance of 2000 miles. Wellington and Fiji, as well as Port Moresby, have also been picked up. Valuable assistance is being given by Mr. L. J. Blackwell, of the Postal Department, who has had some experience in "wireless" work previous to his Narrabri appointment. All of these distant stations have been heard by Mr. Blackwell with the aid of an "audin detector," the most sensitive known to science. At this point was asked Mr. Warden to supply some information about himself and his work. On the first head, he was naturally tacit. We gathered, however, that this gentleman — one of the local school teachers — originally made a study of chemistry and electricity at Sydney Technical College, and the Teachers' College, and for some months past has steeped himself in "dot-dash" lore. Every spare moment he could snatch has been devoted to this fascinating science, and his ardor has been well rewarded. Not only has his station become a landmark in the history of Narrabri, but also constitutes a record for the Commonwealth, being the only wireless base so far inland. Up to the present, the progress made has been great and rapid. Several months ago the station was erected in the school grounds, under the supervision of Mr. Warden, who supplied the necessary electrical apparatus. Owing to the exgiencies of his occupation, Mr. Warden is free only in the night time, which is rather a blessing than otherwise, as, owing to certain physical phenomena, the "wireless" gives better results when daylight has passed. Messages are received with ordinary telephone receivers fixed to machines constructed by the operator, who, beside being a scientist, is also a clever mechanic. These twin assets stand him in good stead. Ordinarily the apparatus used would be purchased at nothing less than £50. The home-made articles, however, while working as well cost only a few pounds. The amazing cheapness of the whole thing has opened up great possibilities, and already several enthusiasts in the town have started stations. Hitherto the station has been only able to receive messages. A few weeks ago experiments with a small transmitting set led to the sending of messages over a distance of several miles. It is intended, in the near future, to attempt messages over a greater distance, with the help of a half-horse power gas engine. This will supply sufficient power to send messages up to a distance of 50 miles. Mr. Warden's enthusiasm, besides being shared by numerous adults, has also been infused into many of the senior pupils of the school. There is nothing that appeals to the mind of a growing boy more than wireless telegraphy. Even without the electrical knowledge there are mysterious coils to play with, connections to be made, and sparks to be seen when the key is pressed down. More than that, there is construction work, "the making of something out of nothing, which is the prerogative of the Creator, and the joy of childhood." As Mr. Warden is science and manual training master of the school, he can get into very intimate contact with the youthful enthusiasts. The lessons given in these classes, which, by-the-way, are supplementary to the usual lessons, are useful, practical, and interesting, and the children appreciate, as only children can, the making and doing of something they can use and understand. In connection with the manual work, excellent wooden and metal models have been made on a Drummond lathe by the pupils in "crafts" class, held after the ordinary course of lessons and on Saturday. Many of them will talk nothing but wireless. Their pocket money is carefully saved, and then spent on the materials for making new instruments. As they are taught simple and inexpensive ways of making these, every article, except the receivers, can be made at home or in the school workroom. Classes also have been formed for the teaching of the code. In order to attend these, about 30 youngsters give up part of their play and lunch hours. The interest shown in this branch of the subject is great, and has led to excellent results. It has its comical side, however, as, for instance, when one boy, who was unable to answer a class question, unconsciously tapped out "S.O.S.," i.e., the signal of distress. The institution of wireless telegraphy in Narrabri District School has been found to be of the greatest educational value to the children, for whilst it has been the means of making the usual science lesson exceedingly practical and interesting, it also has proved to be a valuable adjunct in teaching our coastal geography. Messages from vessels have been noted, their position has been located, their course followed interestedly, and their cargoes, destination, and future trips recorded. The material thus obtained serves as the basis for excellent competitions, maps, and oral descriptions. But it is, perhaps, to the general tone of the school work that the innovation contributes mostly, the children, who have become interested, showing a greater aptitude and anxiety to press on with their general studies. The work done in connection with the station has for some time past been accorded deserved praise by the local authorities and journals. The Minister for Public Instruction has promised to visit it when he comes through the district, and then it is hoped that the State will take suitable measures to reward the untiring efforts of the operator.