Radio Ga Ga

What does an 80 year old radio transmitter in Varberg on the west coast have in common with the site of a Viking parliament in Iceland, a fjord in Greenland and an island off northern Norway? They were all last week declared world heritage sites by Unesco, the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The Grimeton station, including six masts 127 metres high, was built between 1922 and 1924 and was the first reliable wireless telegraph link between Sweden and the USA. During the 1920’s it was part of a global network of 20 similar stations, but Grimeton is the only one still in existence. And, according to Saturday’s GP, it’s preserved in its entirety with all the equipment still in working order. It was built by Swedish-American Ernst Alexanderson of General Electric.

The decision to declare Grimeton a world heritage site was taken by a UNESCO committee sitting in the Chinese city of Suzhou. And by all accounts it wasn’t a straightforward affair.

The committee was preparing to take a re-vote on the matter until Halland’s county historian, Mats Folkesson, clinched the decision. ”

I explained that Grimeton wasn’t just any old industrial site, but that it was unique,” chirped an excited Folkesson to GP. “We really need more monuments to the 20th century. Grimeton is actually still used by the Swedish navy.”

It isn’t just honour and glory being bestowed on one of the Halland’s most famous landmarks, however. Cash is now expected to flow from a variety of sources.

“Having got on the world heritage list, we get 10 million crowns from Varberg council and Varberg Savings Bank’s foundation, and 750,000 crowns from county and regional bodies,” continued Folkesson. “This is enough to make Grimeton a modern tourist facility and scientific centre.”

News of the decision was received in Varberg conventionally by telephone and led to thousands of local citizens celebrating in the town square. With all due respect to the radio transmitter, what would have happened in Varberg if Sweden had won Euro 2004?