Thirteen teams gathered at Wolfhampcote, positioned in the North East corner of the Stratford Upon Avon OS map, near to Daventry. One competitor phoned the organiser saying "The start's okay but it's a bit farm yardy". A fair description maybe. Originally, it was the site of a Saxon farmstead and a long lost medieval village. Just the Church and a more modern set of farm buildings remain, and then of course the cows. The main road system lays nearly 4km away to the south, ensuring no team could get off to a grand prix start.
At 1320 a good strong signal was received from the A station, G3 TRY/P operated by Peter Bradley G3 UJO. Sadly, the signal from the B station was only received by a few teams and not strongly enough to allow sensible bearings to be taken. For the first time on a Banbury hunt the emergency envelope had to be opened. With bearings plotted, the teams departed.
Station A, G3 TRY/P on 1910kHz, operated by Peter Bradley G3 UJO, was located just over 21km SSW of the start, just south of Shotteswell, beside the M40 motorway. The site had been discovered over ten years ago. "That will do nicely one day" I said. Well, May 2004 was that day.
Several footpaths converged on the transmitter site, a footbridge over the motorway also gave access from the east. All routes in were around a kilometer in length. The hidden station was right on top of the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border. Competitors would cross the border time and time again to find the transmitter. County borders in this part of the world are not just dotted lines on a map. This one's called the Sor Brook, it's around 8 foot wide six foot down with a few feet of running water in the bottom of it. The eventual winner got more than his feet wet, I'm sure he was not alone. The less adventurous had to follow the transmitter crew's route onto site, crawling on hands and knees along an animal track through an enormous hawthorn thicket.
Six teams attempted this, the more difficult station, first. Four teams being successful. Steve Stone badly damaged his ankle whilst making very good time and sadly only a matter of seconds away from the transmitter. He had to retire hurt.
The aerial system was a simple end fed around 1 wavelength long run mainly above the wooden motorway fence, eventually returning to the water course just a short distance from the transmitter.
As a result of the bad weather leading up to the event. The Brook had turned into a raging torrent and fears persisted of some of our best direction finders being lost to the flood. Fortunately these fears where unfounded as the waters receded over the weekend.
The route between the two transmitters was fairly straightforward, with the old A41 almost connecting the two sites, now fairly free of traffic thanks to the M40 motorway. Unfortunately, one navigator decided that the motorway would be faster - via Banbury and Birmingham first !!
Station B, G4 MDF/P on 1950 kHz, operated by John Manley M1 CNJ was located around 34km west of the start on a minor disused railway line beside the Stratford Upon Avon Canal about 4km NE of Henley in Arden.
A site carefully chosen, as, just like the A Station, very little evidence of a DF site was obvious on the map. In contrast to the A station though, this site was only sensibly accessed from one direction and a short run from the south along the towpath gave access to the railway line. The short run in was carefully chosen to reward the bolder teams, having first to navigate a difficult route across the map through or around Warwick and Leamington Spa, then carefully avoid the selection of more likely direction finding sites in the vicinity of the station.
The transmitter was hidden underneath a set of 11kv power lines. The aerial was once again a full wave end fed, this time running along the top rail of the adjacent field fence. It was hoped that re-radiation from the wire fence and the power lines would propagate a fair signal back to the start. Sadly the lack of height and leakage due to the damp conditions restricted the useful range of the station to around 20km.
Seven teams made this there first station all successfully finding John. When he was not busy signing teams in he was kept company by the sheep, who sadly for them found their feeding station right next to our hidden transmitter.
John and Mick had a nervous moment when they arrived at the canal earlier in the day to set up the station; A Raynet exercise was underway with a BBC West Midlands film crew in attendance. On top of that, on the far bank of the canal, an enormous bonfire had been lit. Burning recently felled trees from the railway line. An exchange of greetings with the workman was greeted with, "It's all right for you I've got another 5 acres of this to do." Thankfully, he didn't set alight our side of the railway line.
Afterwards, at Wroxton village hall near Banbury, around 40 people sat down to a superb tea.
Geoff Foster, of Stratford upon Avon, at last managed to bring The Banbury Shield back home from its lengthy vacation in the eastern counties, successfully pipping Andrew Mead to first place by just 4 minutes. Well done both of you.
Geoff is now the proud owner of the Banbury shield for the coming year. Both Geoff and Andrew described their afternoon's activities, both being presented with a bottle of "Old Git", a most suitable product for the most successful of direction finders. Their navigators were also suitably rewarded.
Dave Peacock's team received a bottle of wine being 3rd, just 8 minutes behind first place and having not one but two young ladies in his team.
Brian Bristow then summed up the afternoon and everyone stayed behind to help finish the last few trifles and help with the cleaning up of the hall.
Thank you to everyone that helped. Also many many thanks to Ronnie and Daphne for the superb teas; Mick and John for running the B station; Peter Bradley for running the A station; George and Brian for doing the start, loaning the transmitters, clocks and things; and Gordon for all the other bits and pieces.
Just a quick sorry to Rosie for turning you into a chap for the day. The Computer did have you as a Colin. I'm sure you will be reinstated when the official results are published.
Subject to confirmation, Geoff Foster and Andrew Mead qualify for the National Final.
|Position||Competitor||Finish||Time A||Time B|
|12 =||Steve Stone||-||-||-|
|12 =||Graham Jones||-||-||-|