Back to Houlton for mast site name

Rugby Radio Station pictured in 1933 NNL-160429-131930001
Rugby Radio Station pictured in 1933 NNL-160429-131930001

The massive extension to Rugby on the old radio masts site will be known as Houlton in honour of a key moment in its history.

It was chosen because the first ever transatlantic telephone call was sent from Rugby Radio Station in 1927 to Houlton in the USA.

At the time Rugby had the world’s most powerful radio transmission station.

The 1,200 acre development site is called RadioStation Rugby and was formerly home to 12 820ft masts, which gave Rugby many claims to fame over the years for its role in communicatiuons and defence.

Historian and former manager of Rugby Radio Station, Malcolm Hancock, is working with site owners Urban&Civic and Aviva Investors in promoting the site’s history as well as its future.

Mr Hancock lives in Hillmorton and worked at the station straight from school as an apprentice in the 1960s until his retirement in 2002 – the station closed in 2007.

He said: “Local people remember the huge masts that were a familiar part of the landscape of Rugby but are less familiar with its fascinating history as the World’s Telephone Exchange from 1927 until the 1950s.

“Its role in the Second World War and the Cold War led to a veil of secrecy about what happened at the station and through the work I am doing with Johanne Thomas at RadioStation Rugby, we hope to tell more of the story.”

Johanne said: “We wanted to come up with a name that was rooted in the history of the site and which also fitted well into the Rugby landscape alongside neighbouring Hillmorton, Clifton and Newton. Houlton seemed a perfect choice.”

Commenting on Houlton as the newest neighbourhood in Rugby, Cllr Richard Dodd, Mayor of Rugby, said: “As a town we are incredibly proud of our heritage.

“I’m pleased that as we continue to grow and welcome new communities and neighbourhoods, we will also be marking a significant moment in our history.”

Over the next 15-20 years, Houlton will be developed to feature 6,200 homes, three primary schools, one secondary school, an eight GP health centre, a link road connecting the site to the town centre and extensive green spaces and amenities.

Work began at the site earlier this year and the following activity is underway:

- A new junction, roundabout and cycleway along the A428 Crick Road

- Refurbishment and redevelopment of Dolman Farm to create a visitors centre, Café and community facilities – set to open in summer

- The first roads and development parcels are being built with Davidsons housebuilder set to begin building homes soon.