UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Powered By Google Custom Search Vintage Radio Service Data

Go Back   UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum > Specific Vintage Equipment > Vintage Telephony and Telecomms

Notices

Vintage Telephony and Telecomms Vintage Telephones, Telephony and Telecomms Equipment

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 31st May 2020, 6:45 pm   #61
rambo1152
Octode
 
rambo1152's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Manchester, UK.
Posts: 1,904
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellseinydd View Post

Could you mean this ? With more details/links here. I remember it being built as it could be see from my hilltop here in North Wales. Stuck out like a 'sore thumb' on the Wirral some ten miles away.
Yes, I included a link to Richard Lamont's website in post #7. That's wire-tapping the hard way.
__________________
--
Graham.
G3ZVT
rambo1152 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st Jun 2020, 9:28 am   #62
Sparky67
Hexode
 
Sparky67's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Great Barr, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK.
Posts: 319
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Steve Scanlon has a little more info about these sites on his excellent UKWMO web site.

http://www.ringbell.co.uk/ukwmo/Page243.htm

Martin
G4NCE
Sparky67 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st Jun 2020, 3:27 pm   #63
G6Tanuki
Dekatron
 
G6Tanuki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Wiltshire, UK.
Posts: 8,634
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

I remember spending quite a bit of time near the Stokenchurch tower back in the late-1980s when they were releasing Red Kites as part of the reintroduction program. Now, the Kites are *everywhere*.
G6Tanuki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st Jun 2020, 10:26 pm   #64
Sparks
Hexode
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 329
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

As daft as it sounds, the Tinshill tower appeared to have different 'faces', depending on whereabouts you were looking at it from. I suppose it was the mix of dish and horn antennae at different levels that gave these appearances (to a juvenile me, anyway). It could look benign, cheerful, disapproving and very scowly! Nowadays it has one face for all occasions: blank.
Sparks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st Jun 2020, 11:17 pm   #65
Refugee
Dekatron
 
Refugee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Worksop, Nottinghamshire, UK.
Posts: 4,545
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparks View Post
As daft as it sounds, the Tinshill tower appeared to have different 'faces', depending on whereabouts you were looking at it from. I suppose it was the mix of dish and horn antennae at different levels that gave these appearances (to a juvenile me, anyway). It could look benign, cheerful, disapproving and very scowly! Nowadays it has one face for all occasions: blank.
I used to imagine that they were giant shoes stood up on their heels leaning against the core of the tower.
Refugee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd Jun 2020, 8:01 am   #66
Sparks
Hexode
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 329
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Not just me with a vivid imagination then. Thank goodness.
Sparks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12th Jun 2020, 7:05 pm   #67
emeritus
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Brentwood, Essex, UK.
Posts: 3,703
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Here's a scan of the slide I took, from a moving coach, at Easter 1965, with only a couple of horns visible.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	190_ Easter 1965.jpg
Views:	91
Size:	30.4 KB
ID:	208346  
emeritus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12th Jun 2020, 8:33 pm   #68
Radio Wrangler
Dekatron
 
Radio Wrangler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Fife, Scotland, UK.
Posts: 14,539
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Up for sale at some point eh?

Would suit very keen radio amateur.

Imagine trying to get planning permission for one like that. And if you promise to keep secret what you will use it for, there is no change of use!

David
__________________
Can't afford the volcanic island yet, but the plans for my monorail and the goons' uniforms are done
Radio Wrangler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12th Jun 2020, 8:39 pm   #69
russell_w_b
Dekatron
 
russell_w_b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Penrith, Cumbria, UK.
Posts: 3,289
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Granitehill View Post

There were some wondrous conspiracy theories around. The view that civilian use was just a front for gov/mil is quite untrue, I'm afraid. (There were discreet military and government radio systems about, but these were not part of the GPO/BT microwave system, and were in completely different locations, run by gov/mil themselves.
When I worked at BBC Kirk o' Shotts in the early 1980s there was a BT SHF link station further up the hill, and next to that was a military SHF installation. One day there was an organised protest, and the 'Ban the Bomb' lot were all holding hands and surrounding the entire BT SHF link site - I suspect they should've been surrounding the 'other' site, but hey-ho...

I was dispatched next door to pick up a BBC parcel that had been mistakenly delivered to the BT site (further confusion between sites) and was met at the gate, in among the protesters. They were very nice and gave me a big CND balloon to take back to the EiC!
__________________
Regds,

Russell W. B.
G4YLI.
russell_w_b is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 12:19 am   #70
fetteler
Heptode
 
fetteler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Staffordshire Moorlands, UK.
Posts: 818
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Yep, that sounds about right - you will find that CND members are usually very nice people and excellent friendly company

Steve.
__________________
Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking...
fetteler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 12:52 am   #71
Radio Wrangler
Dekatron
 
Radio Wrangler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Fife, Scotland, UK.
Posts: 14,539
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

They should have figured out that the military facility would be separate to the BT one. Did they think the military could afford BT's prices?



David
__________________
Can't afford the volcanic island yet, but the plans for my monorail and the goons' uniforms are done
Radio Wrangler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 2:16 am   #72
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Going back all the way to "Manchester" Rambo and Paul Sherwin [at posts 21/22] I was having computer text problems then so didn't comment. As a teenager, I used to spend a lot of time in Heaton Park but not always on a technical basis, they had a Fairground and girls etc. The tower went up without too much reaction or excitement but it did have an aura of mystery. Anyone interested, ie not many, accepted the TV comms explanation without comment. We only went close on one day and a chap advised us to maintain our distance, which we did.

Two friends of mine were keeping ancient machinery running at the famous Ramsbottom Soaps Works. They were the only people who could! One of them got a job with the GPO but not me. I couldn't work out the AND /NOR gate questions in the entrance exam. You needed to get 12 out of 20 but I only managed 7 [by guess work]. I did get a job as a clerk at Post Offices Supplies in Cheetham Hill though [now a Transport Museum]. My successful friend worked at the PO tower and I stayed with him in Ealing, circa 1968, when sent to London on the standard GPO staff introductory course. He told me that he was working on the very top level of the GPO Tower with the Transmission Horns and that young males, in particular, were advised to not stand in front of the waveguides if they had any ambition to procreate in the future

He seemed fairly convinced that it was a National Defence Project designed to use direct micro wave links instead of Land Lines in the event of an attack. The "spinal" nature of these towers seemed to point in the same direction. Later I had a clerical job in central Manchester. The GPO exchange nearby was reputed to go several stories underground and to be a part of the same set up. Manchester is actually very built up geographically and riddled with underground passageways. Just check out the area by the river near Victoria Station. Going on from that, I subsequently had relatives in Stokenchurch and saw the same sort of link. Some of these towers seemed to pop up in very unexpected places back then!

Dave W

Last edited by dave walsh; 13th Jun 2020 at 2:25 am.
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 2:32 am   #73
fetteler
Heptode
 
fetteler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Staffordshire Moorlands, UK.
Posts: 818
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Woo Woo WOOO!!!!! Let's keep those conspiracy fires stoked!

This is interesting:
https://www.subbrit.org.uk/features/...relay-network/

Steve.
__________________
Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking...

Last edited by fetteler; 13th Jun 2020 at 2:42 am.
fetteler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 8:13 am   #74
Sparks
Hexode
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 329
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

That made for a good read. The mast at Hunter's Stones looks very bare today compared to the picture in the article. Still quite an imposing sight.
Sparks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 9:38 am   #75
dglcomp
Hexode
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Portland, Dorset, UK.
Posts: 403
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio Wrangler View Post
Up for sale at some point eh?

Would suit very keen radio amateur.

Imagine trying to get planning permission for one like that. And if you promise to keep secret what you will use it for, there is no change of use!

David
Well the Emley Moor temporary mast was up for sale at auction, imagine having that in your back garden!
Also imagine asking you neighbours if they would mind having stay blocks in their gardens, don't think they would agree, though you'd never get lost getting home after a night out again. Oh now where is my house, ahh yes next to that big vertical line of red lights
dglcomp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 11:04 am   #76
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Thanks for the Subterranea link Steve. I've got the Peter Laurie book! Typing Secret Underground Manchester now goes to the Manchester Evening News site which reveals more about the Telephone Exchange System and back up plus the long history underground, including the area along the river. It also mentions the "long forgotten" [not by me] scheme to have an Underground of a different kind ie a Tube System similar to "that London". I wrote to the MEN in 1972 pointing out that, in a war time situation, the Army could lay half a mile of track through the then derelict Castlefield Area if a link between Piccadilly and Victoria Stations was urgently needed.

That's been done recently to provide a direct rail link between North and South as well but it's overcrowded already On the theme of secrecy re the Microwave Tower chain, the Post Office Exchanges and more generally, I knew and wasn't surprised that the Tube for Manchester idea was rejected in terms of cost and practicality. I'd no idea at all that they actually made a start in Piccadilly Gardens though I was working there then in the Sunley Buildings Tower Block across from the BBC Manchester [pre Oxford Road] building. Quickly abandoned the project was intended to be constructed between 1973 and 1977. Optomistic at best I'd say. There are two books by Keith Warrender on Underground Manchester [mentioned on the MEN site] I'd recommend. He used to give guided tours!

Dave W

I once helped a widow dispose of a very big lattice type mast that had supported a Triple Short Wave Array and other items. Not Emley Moor size but massive all the same [he owned a piece of land at the
side of his house so the structure and guys etc could be accommodated. I remembered seeing it as a school boy [hard to miss really]. Taking it all down was along the lines of getting one of those dangerous springs in tension out of a wind up Gramophone without serious injury to all and sundry.
They got it on a low loader, used a welding torch to remove the base mounts and drove away. Apparently the chap's wife took one look and said "Not with your heart condition" so it went elsewhere after all that!

Last edited by dave walsh; 13th Jun 2020 at 11:19 am.
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 11:22 am   #77
paulsherwin
Moderator
 
paulsherwin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 19,746
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Just to be clear, only the tinfoil hat brigade would claim that the microwave network was built exclusively for military use, with phone traffic and TV distribution as some sort of bogus cover story. It was a multipurpose system from the very start - it was obvious that the military would only need a fraction of the capacity of this very expensive system in peacetime.

Nevertheless, the military aspects were important, and most of the towers were hardened against blast. When they were being designed in the 50s there was a very real fear of all out nuclear war using Hiroshima sized warheads delivered by manned bombers. The towers (including the London one) were designed to stay standing after such an exchange, though they wouldn't be functional without significant repairs. Nevertheless, it was hoped that a national communications backbone could be re-established in weeks rather than years. The towers would not survive an attack with large thermonuclear warheads of course, so this aspect was becoming redundant even as the towers entered service.
paulsherwin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 6:39 pm   #78
russell_w_b
Dekatron
 
russell_w_b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Penrith, Cumbria, UK.
Posts: 3,289
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Here're a couple of pics showing the SHF furniture of the mid-'80s. Charwelton SHF tower near Daventry (the concrete tower) and Cambret Hill BT 'climbing frame', next to the BBC / IBA UHF TV relay site. Cambret Hill was aligned with a similar erection on the English side of the Solway, at Wharrels Hill, above Bothel.

When I passed Wharrels Hill recently, there were two, maybe three dishes less than 1m diameter on there. Haven't been near Daventry or Cambret Hill for years.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Charwelton Tower.jpg
Views:	57
Size:	24.0 KB
ID:	208412   Click image for larger version

Name:	Cambret.jpg
Views:	55
Size:	49.0 KB
ID:	208413  
__________________
Regds,

Russell W. B.
G4YLI.
russell_w_b is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jun 2020, 11:53 pm   #79
rambo1152
Octode
 
rambo1152's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Manchester, UK.
Posts: 1,904
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by dave walsh View Post
I was working there then in the Sunley Buildings Tower Block across from the BBC Manchester!
Did you have access to the roof?
I know that the TV aerials serving the Piccadilly Hotel were on the roof of Sunley House, and there is a veritable farm of aerials up there today, including a local DAB station.

About the same time there was a radar head (weather?) on top of the CIS building, (The tallest point in the city until 2006), you could just about see it rotating from ground level.

That's spooky, Mr Google does not seem to know about this radar, I'm sure I didn't imagine it!
__________________
--
Graham.
G3ZVT

Last edited by rambo1152; 14th Jun 2020 at 12:10 am.
rambo1152 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th Jun 2020, 1:28 pm   #80
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

No you couldn't get up to the roof. I was on the 22nd floor [of 28]. We did have regular fire alerts [usually a painters blowlamp] and were top priority with the London Road Fire Station just nearby, as you will know and now a vintage item in itself I recall coming back with a sandwich to find fire engines parked round the back of Sunley, near the modest entrance to the "Deep" Telephone Exchange and the Shift Commander reporting in "two minutes and 23 seconds!", somewhat triumphantly. The Piccadilly Hotel Sign was a very large structure on top of the their building [itself only about five Storeys I think]. We looked out of our windows during a major storm one day to see the sign, far below, waving about like a flag and due to crash down through the Atrium Roof. After we alerted the management, the London Road crew turned out with ropes to secure things. "High" drama, you could say.

Dave W
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 4:21 am.


All information and advice on this forum is subject to the WARNING AND DISCLAIMER located at https://www.vintage-radio.net/rules.html.
Failure to heed this warning may result in death or serious injury to yourself and/or others.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2020, Paul Stenning.