Monday, 4 January 2010

CB or not CB?

I must admit that the CB Radio craze completely passed me by. The closest I came to it was an Action Man Walkie Talkie I was once given for  Christmas (at least I could stake out the bad garden for baddies - until the batteries ran out, that is). 

Blog reader 'Skycruiser' has been reminiscing over CB radio in Worcester Park in the 1980s:

"CB radio in Worcester Park circa 1982! Anybody got their ears on?

Was it really 28 years ago that the Citizen Band 
radio craze swept Worcester Park? It started illegally a year or two before that but by 1982 it was legal (so long as you paid your licence) and 'Breakers' were queuing up outside Croakie Poky's shop in Central Road to buy their 'rigs' (radio sets) plus an 'Oscar' - the Rolls Royce of aerials costing all of twenty quid.

For the benefit of those who were 'ankle biters' at the time and too young to know, 
CB radio had a range from 2 to 5 miles (depending on the lie of the land) so in WP you could reach West Ewell in the south, the Cambridge Estate (but not Kingston) in the west, Mitcham in the north and Sutton (on a good day) in the east. The addition of a 'burner' gave you an extra mile or two range.

You either fitted it in your car or ran it from home with your 'twig' in the loft. It attracted all age ranges from OAPs, schoolnkids, disabled people, school kids, lorry drivers (who started it all), more school kids, twenty-somethings and over.

It was great for chatting up the opposite sex though 'eyeballs' could sometimes prove a disappointment. Regular 'eyeballs' where all breakers could meet up were held every Sunday in the Sainsbury car park in North Cheam (no Sunday opening then but sometimes a 'smokey jam sandwich' aka police car would turn up just to keep an eye on things) whilst other breakers would head for The Plough on Thursday evenings.

So 'Is there anybody there?' as we used to say on the call-up channel number 9? Are you out there Captain Midnight, Stick Man where are you, come back Pussy Cat and Lady Jane? Have you got your ears on?

This is Sky Cruiser calling in the Worcester Park 'twenty'." 

11 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Anonymous said...

With all due respect,
I don't give a monkeys about CB radio and suchlike. I think I speak for the vast majority of us living here when I say that I want the chair and chief executive of Sutton Council to answer questions from WP residents on a whole raft of issues. I think it's time that this blog started to fulfill a democratic mandate and hold those in power accountable for the absolute shambles that is urban planning and development in WP. I hope that there is enough interest to make this happen.

Worcester Park said...

Anonymous - this blog does not have a 'democratic mandate' - and until such time as we start electing our local bloggers (what a thought)it never will.

The only 'mandate' it has is by virtue of the fact that local people continue to read it, comment on the posts and contact me about local issues and events they want to be included on the blog.

Therefore instead of complaining about other people's contributions to the blog I suggest that if you have something to say about urban planning and development (an issue which has regularly been covered on this blog) you get in touch.

Sky Cruiser said...

Anonymous - Hey, lighten up man, this blog is for people interested in all aspects of Worcester Park yesterday, today and in the future, no matter how obscure. If you want to start your own post on "democratic mandates" and "Sutton Council" (yawn-yawn) that's fine but don't p*** on my party. Ten-Four Good Buddy!

Andrew B said...

10-4 Sky Cruiser; copy that.

I enjoyed your post. it took me back to my airing cupboard, though not located in WP :)

Rick said...

Anon, who knows what proportion of WP’s residents read this blog or if the subjects covered and views expressed represent an accurate cross-section of local opinion? But from my own observations, there are regular inputs from someone or other, demanding change of some kind or other. The irony is that these demanders are usually unprepared to contribute anything tangible towards that change occurring!

Why rely upon the interest and actions of other readers to achieve what you feel so passionate about? Why don’t you put your questions to the chair and chief executive of Sutton Council and then post a comment here detailing the reply? Better still, additionally create your own blog, dedicated to those issues that you consider vitally important and that this blog fails to address or adequately pursue. Try openly leading from the front, rather than just covertly heckling from the rear.

Andrew H said...

When i was a kid i had a normal radio thingy, which i used to listen in to air traffic control, and police, and such geeky things as that. It was only a receiver, so i couldnt broadcast, but every now and then id inadvertently tune into some CB chatter. As a child in the 80s this was the cutting edge of voyeurism!

Haven't done that in decades, is the whole CB thing still going strong somewhere? Do you have CB versions of 'twitter' or 'facebook' nowadays??

Amy said...

Well surely things like Twitter (not so much Facebook) are the modern equivalent of CB in a roundabout way?

Huey said...

Good remeniscent post there Sky Cruiser, though as I recall, Channel 9 was the "emergency" channel, with 14 for base station breakers and 19 for mobile breakers.

"Whizz Wheels, 1-4 for a copy?" (I was quite taken with roller skates at the time!)

peter said...

quote: CB radio had a range from 2 to 5 miles

Actually it could have a range of several thousands of miles, depending on conditions in the Ionosphere and the mode used. When conditions were good, CB'ers used to call it Skip, which was normally in the summer months, but sometimes all year to some some extent or another, CB'ers could often chat to the Americas, Europe, and even as far away
as Australia. The Skip comes and goes in 11 year cycles, mirroring the Suns Sunspot activity.
The first you knew it was up was when you could hear the Italians blasting over. They are always the first you heard as they dont have strict rules governing power output as in the UK, or at least they are'nt enforced like here, and most Italians think using a Kilowatt is quite normal.
Before legalised CB in the UK, virtually everyone on CB, anywhere in the world, used either SSB, Single Side Band, or AM, Amplitude Modulation. There could be problems when using these modes though as many TV's and Radios back then were very poorly shielded from RFI, Radio Frequency Interference, and so you could cause lots of visible and audiable interference to your neighbours TV's and radios, even when using an RF power output of less than 10 watts.
For this reason the government decided to only allow the use of FM, frequency modulation, when they legalised CB. FM interference took the form of a herringbone pattern on the TV screen but you could still watch it and there was no audio breakthrough. Sadly, FM does'nt allow anywhere near the range of SSB or AM and my personal best on FM was a chat to France, around 120 miles away using a home made wire antenna.
Since it was legalised though, use of CB has
dwindled and dwindled and now, thanks largely to mobile phone technology and the freedom it brings for communication, CB use is practically all but dead in the UK.
You no longer need a license to use it thesedays and CB's are still availble in shops but I dont see who your going to talk to unless you buy two and give one to a friend and the last time I had a go on CB, which was a couple of weeks ago, I could'nt find single person using it.

Anonymous said...

CB is still used today by a number of groups. 4x4 groups use them to communicate on a rallies and pay and play days, some motorcyclists use them with a headset to communicate in groups and farmers also use them to communicate between tractors etc. So they are not yet dead ... oh and truckers still use them as unlike mobile phones they are not illegal to use whilst driving.

The Lone Groover said...

Hi Good Buddy
Yes I remember the get togethers at the Plough, which sometimes adjourned to somebodies flat above the Newsagents at New Malden.
I remember a young lady handle Bacardi who lived by Malden Green I was rather taken with..she went to Tiffin Girls.

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