WITH a combined age of 245 years, three members of the Perth Morsecodians of WA showed their knowledge and skills for curious young viewers at the Kalamunda and Districts Historical Society’s Open Day.
The event took place on Sunday at the History Village on Railway Road.
As part of the annual Open day, visitors were invited to enter the old Post Office Building and send a telegram allowing the morsecodians to show the skills they are preserving and learnt many years ago.
The first telegram was sent in America in 1844. In 1854, the first telegram was sent in Melbourne from Williamstown in the Western suburbs.
In Perth, it took another 15 years before the first telegram was sent in 1869. Some hundred years later when the last telegrams were wrapped up in WA, Morse became a language lost to many people.
But a group of enthusiastic former postal and telecom workers have kept Morse alive by private practice and in some cases forming clubs.
Local Morse operators formed the Perth chapter of the Morse Code Fraternity in November 1996.
Members met in Armadale and hoped to narrow the gap in communication using computers to access a dial up system and send Morse down the electronic highway, still utilising the old method of communication.
A former electronics guru worked out that it was possible to transmit Morse via computer and it allowed the group to send messages via the internet through a modem.
The Morsecodians have been active at the Perth Royal Show since 2002, displaying their skills for visitors however this year was the last for the remaining members, as many in the group are getting into their 90s and finding it a long day at the show.
This year’s Kalamunda display was completed by Brian Pollard, 79, from Maddington, Chas Spalding 81, of Pickering Brook and Don Tyler, 85 of Success.
Young viewers asked what a typewriter was, as they watched Mr Spalding type out the telegrams sent to him in Morse code from Mr Pollard on the other side of the room.
The three men were former postal telegraph clerks who were trained in Morse as part of their role at the GPO. On the Open Day they sent more than 50 telegrams via Morse code as part of the demonstration for visitors.
Two of the men completed their careers with Australia Post with more than 80 years service between them.
Mr Spalding retired from Australia Post as the Divisional Manager Northern Division and Mr Tyler was the former Manager of the Perth Mail Exchange. Mr Spalding was also seconded to Papua New Guinea in 1981 and 1985, where he assisted that government in the formation of their telecommunications and postal systems.
Another former member of the Morsecodians, Ric Crameri, 79, who passed away earlier this year, also compiled a popular book called “Dot Dash to Dot Com – A North-West Odyssey”, 2002, which made a valuable contribution to the history of telecommunications in the North West of WA.