Early Room 19 class in full swing. Head instructor Walter Lambert is the tall fellow at the front. Bowerman photo

Marine Radio School "Room 19"

   The installation of radio equipment created a huge demand for proficient operators. Coast stations and coastal shipping all required their skills. In 1926 Walter Lambert (see elsewhere on this site) began a radio school in room 19 of Vancouver's King Edward High School. This course turned out radio operators holding Department of Transport Certificates of Proficiency in Radio (Second Class). The course included Morse code, equipment operation and repair. After a period of on-the-job experience, the holder of the Second Class ticket could write the exam for the First Class Certificate.

   There were private radio training schools on the west coast, as this 1936 advertisement on the left shows, that gave more training options. The reasons why a public school, under the Vancouver School Board, took on training radio operators in competition with the private schools are presently unknown.

   Brian Dickinson (student in Room 19 1958-60) supplies the following details:
   "I found a letter from John E. Duke, dated December 1963. He said, "After 37 years in the old King Edward High School, now known as the King Edward Continuation Centre, the Radio Electronics Centre (Room 19) has moved to new and better facilities. The school is now located in Rooms 406 - 412 on the 4th floor of the new High-Rise Building of the Vancouver Vocational Institute, and renamed the Radio Telecommunication Centre (still Room 19)."
   "On March 24, 1972 there was a John Duke and Rod Hodgson (both instructors) student evening at VVI. This may have been when Room 19 closed for good as in the May 3, 1972 edition of the Province newspaper there is an article entitled "Museum gets old (Room 19) wireless gear."

   Al Miller, grad of 1931, sent me a list of attendees dated August 8, 1994. I've added a few names to this list whenever a graduate contacts me.

   Vince Ramcharran sends along some photos from his 1968 Room 19 training.

   Hugh Martin attended in 1940 and his daughter-in-law supplied some of his class photos plus a 1971 reunion photo here.

   The instructor's names, clockwise from the left, as remembered by Gerry Peters, photos supplied by Ted Severud:

   Colin Casey - Colin was English and spent WW2 as a rear gunner. He had a tiny Hillman station wagon.
   [Des says: My remembrances of room 19 centers around an instructor called Casey. Casey had a little English car and we used to go out at noon and put blocks under the rear axles. Casey never did learn to look, and always had the same shocked expression on his face when he hit the gas pedal and got great noise but little action.]

   John Duke - Head Instructor - Room 19 Graduate - Radio Operator on the RCMP Vessel St Roch. Don't know if he worked at any coast stations.
   Ron Hodgeson- Room 19 graduate - Radio Operator. Ferry command during WW2. Don't know if he worked at any coast stations. (Ian Morrison remembered first name 11/09)
   Tony Lawton Also believe he was a Room 19 Graduate and believe he served in merchant navy during war. Not sure if he served at any coast stations. (Thanks to Ian M. for the first name and that Tony taught electronic theory.)

   A signed 1967 Christmas Card from the staff.
(Ramcharran album)

   Looks like a sampling of marine radiophone and Morse transmitters. Grads would need exposure to various makes of equipment as they never knew what gear would be in a vessel's radio office.

   A set of marine radio direction finders. The loops would have been fitted at the top of the mast (best place) but more likely on top of the wheel house.

   Typical equipment schematics on the wall. Students were expected to know the nuts and bolts of how their equipment worked.
   King George V on the wall. He died in 1936.

   The beginnings of 'Room 19'. Walter Lambert, who was the first instructor in 1926, is the mustached gentleman way at the back. About the only things in common over the intervening years are the tables. The diagrams on the walls, and the equipment have all been changed out to reflect the progress in the technology. Bowerman photo.

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