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Old 17th Jan 2016, 10:45 pm   #1
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Smile British relay television film

Good evening,
I found this on Youtube earlier and it is very fascinating film explaining how the system works with clips of Pye lynx cameras, receivers, set top boxes, cables and transmission equipment.

Christopher Capener
A proper radio is one that needs to be moved with a wheelbarrow !!
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Old 18th Jan 2016, 9:50 pm   #2
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Default Re: British relay television film

A fascinating film! - thank you for posting the link.

We moved into our present home in 1996. Having made enquiries as to the function and ownership of a concrete inspection chamber in our front garden, I was told it was associated with the British Relay TV and radio signal distribution system that had been installed throughout the area during the mid-1980s as a way of minimising the number of terrestrial antennas on rooftops ('preserving visual amenity' was the term that was used as I recall). As a result, all of the restrictive covenants on properties throughout the area forbade any form of external antenna being mounted at a height greater than 1 metre above the property's roof ridge line. During my research, the British Relay system in this area was described to me by a member of the Commission for New Towns as having been found to be "very unreliable" and was therefore abandoned.

There are still street-side cabinets to be seen around several of the local housing estates (complete with a Castell key type lock) and I assume these cabinets may very well still have repeater amplifiers, splitters etc. inside.

The film is very enjoyable to watch ... the vehicles of the day looked only too familiar! - Humber Sceptre, Ford Thames van ... and in terms of vintage electronics, at frame ref. 10:10':26" approximately, I spotted an Airmec 201 in use within a test department - similar to the one that Skywave had kindly passed on to me a while back (pictures are here: )

A great piece of industrial archive footage. Thanks again, Christopher

Best wishes

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'Baa-aa-aah ..." ('The Dish': 2000)
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Old 18th Jan 2016, 11:23 pm   #3
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Default Re: British relay television film

Fantastic! Just the kind of thing we forum members love. Well worth a watch.

Thanks, Christopher.
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Old 18th Jan 2016, 11:44 pm   #4
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Default Re: British relay television film

Interesting watch, that.

Obsolete (even then) 1035 Cossor in one of the shots, though that may have been historic footage at the time the film was made and an HP VHF genny in the same lab as the Airmec.

I felt they were stretching a point rather in claiming that the utilitarian new council terrace without aerials looked better than the older buildings with aerials but I guess they had to justify their existence in reasonable signal areas somehow.
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Old 8th Dec 2019, 10:56 pm   #5
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Default British relay tv

Hi stumbled acrosss this may be of intrest Mick
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Old 29th Dec 2019, 10:47 pm   #6
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Default A bit of nostalgia

I stumbled across this old film which I thought would be interesting here
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Old 14th Jan 2020, 8:49 am   #7
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Default Re: A bit of nostalgia

Nice bit of nostalgia - I like the "busy-busy" music, and the old cars of course. I wondered what the draughtsman was doing with a set-square without a tee-square under it! I wasn't really aware of British Relay, but we lived in an area with good reception from Crystal Palace.
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Old 14th Jan 2020, 2:45 pm   #8
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Default Re: British relay television film

Interesting to see AR88 receivers in use presumably for medium wave reception, and also RCA 'New Orthophonic FM tuners.

Overall I was impressed by the quantity of capital equipment installed which basically replaced a TV aerial on each roof, but I guess British Relay was ideal for the massive council blocks going up in that period.

Come to think of it, our Virgin cable TV of today does a similar job with presumably a similar level of capital investment. And we still have our rooftop aerials, though no longer essential.

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Old 15th Jan 2020, 12:33 pm   #9
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Default Re: British relay television film

My parents rented a British Relay set for many years. As far as I can remember we had the same set from the early 1960s when I came onto the scene until the early 1970s when we got a colour set.

I was off school a fair bit as I suffered badly with asthma so I was often at home when the Relay man came to fix the set I was fascinated by the inside of the set all lit up it was probably what started my interest in Television.
I am fairly sure the set was a PYE it had two controls for on off volume and brightness another on the front that looked a bit like a gas cooker knob, that changed over between radio and TV. On the side in there was a row of cream pushbuttons that changed the stations . I am fairly sure the set was converted to 625 at some point I have a vague memory that there was a control on the back that switched over for BBC2.

The houses all had a cable running along the back with a junction box on the wall just like in the film.
One of the neighbours was a little snooty , he always went to work with an umbrella and bowler hat the house was quite posh, Brass letterbox, doorknob and all...
They wouldn't allow BRW to put the cable along their house so Relay had to run the cable all the way down their garden above the fence at gutter height to a telegraph pole in the garden on the house behind then to another pole the other side of the garden and then all the way back to the house next door.
My Dad said that it looked a right eyesore !

Later on a few of my friends worked for Relay, one of them was always singing that old Glenn Campbell song " I was a linesman for the Relay..."

All of the newly built council houses would not allow tenants to fit an outside aerial , loft aerials in Peterborough struggled a bit on UHF so many people had BRW. The later conversion boxes that plugged into the aerial socket were terrible, plagued with sound buzz, then ensued the argument between the retailer and the Relay....each blaming the other for the fault if it was reception based. "it's the set" "It's the box" .
Visionhire took over in the early 1980s, the system didn't last long after that.

The relay workshop and HQ was in an old Chapel in Cobden street near the City centre. The place still had all of it's original fixtures in place including the 'Gods' relay were not allowed to modify and alter this which posed problems when they wanted to install a workshop lift.
Times change though and what was protected then isn't now the Chapel was levelled to become a car park for the local Mosque sometime later on.
I am not 100% sure but I think this picture was taken at the rear of BRW sometime in the 70s
'Waiting for the scrap man'
P.S sorry I can't see a way to rotate the picture!
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Old 15th Jan 2020, 1:22 pm   #10
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Default Re: British relay television film

British relay TV was born in Gloucester .
The opening scene is actually College green outside the cathedral .
Oh I've had that for years dear!!
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Old 15th Jan 2020, 1:52 pm   #11
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Default Re: British relay television film

We took over a relay system from a firm called Storeys in the Eighties. We supplied a village of around fifty properties who couldn't receive terrestrial television. We gradually upgraded and renovated the system that had been installed in the Sixties, replacing an old scaffold pole with a custom made mast and equipment cabinet some hundreds of feet up a mountainside with appropriate weather!
The cabinet contained channelised amplifiers and down-converters feeding half a mile of phantom powered cable to the main cabinet, fed with aornd 50v via a massive constant voltage transformer. The signal was then amplified and split four ways for each part of the village, with repeater amplifiers along the way as the furthest property was about a mile away. The signals were then fed to the TVs via an up-converter (Labgear Televerta) at each subscriber's property.
This worked well for many years, and we even were able to install appropriate equipment for S4C (Welsh Channel 4). We didn't think teletext and NICAM stood a chance, but the system took both in its stride.
The nail in the coffin was satellite television and the relaxing of planning rules for dishes. Once half the village had Sky TV it was deemed Council subsidy to us was inappropriate. Much of the sytem is still there - and if anyone wants four rack mounted channelised amplifiers and down converters you've only to ask!
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 10:28 am   #12
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Default Re: British relay television film

I'm not sure of the location of the picture that Rich (slidertogrid) has posted. It's definitely not British Relay, I worked there. It could very easily be the back yard of "Harry Bone" who was a TV repairer just round the corner from Relay.

Here is a picture of the old British Relay premises in Peterborough. It's about the only one I could find. It must have been taken in the late eighties. I think the Relay operation in Peterborough ended around the mid eithties. The TV repair side of the business acquired new premises around 1980 but the Relay system remained in Cobden Street until the end. It was also used to "convert" Relay sets to off air with replacement tuner/IF boards.

The Relay building is the one in the middle with the orange/red sign over the door. The building to the right of it is the old Co-Op TV repair workshop (there was lots of banter shouted in the street between us!) and the building to the left was the Ukranian club. We mended their tellies for them and we were rewarded with ultra cheap beer after work.

Happy days indeed.
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 3:01 pm   #13
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Default Re: British relay television film

An interesting film, I used to work for British Relay during the mid 1970's in their R&D lab based in Cleve Road, Leatherhead. The R&D manager believed in UFO's and aliens from outer space living amongst us! a strange guy indeed.
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 4:33 pm   #14
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Default Re: British relay television film

Lovely film. They are very dismissive of the disadvantages of large chimney aerials. It's funny how some of us today view such aerials as 'iconic' and even want to bring them back.

We learn that the British Relay TV channels all used the same 'low' frequencies. What frequencies were these?

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Old 16th Jan 2020, 5:35 pm   #15
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Default Re: British relay television film

It was nearly 50 years ago that I was working there and I'm afraid the details are rather vague in my memory now. I remember that each channel occupied a twisted pair in the cable (you saw the receiver cable being plugged into the BR socket), this meant the system was very limited as the maximum number of channels was limited by the cable. I seem to remember the frequency used was somewhere in the 4MHz region and I recall there were problems with the colour sub carrier frequency. One engineer was working on a VHF system when I left but I have no idea if it was ever implemented.
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 9:36 pm   #16
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Default Re: British relay television film

I'm not wanting to deviate from Christopher's thread and the very interesting film that he dug out for us but there have been threads on here re a number of similar "Cable" companies, throughout the country, eg in Ramsbottom and Hastings!

A thread by Biggles "Redifusion How Did It Work?" [26/8/16] covers that one. At post 37, there is a reference to British Relay by PHIL G4SPV !

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Old 16th Jan 2020, 11:16 pm   #17
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Default Re: British relay television film

This has some information about the British Relay system in Whitehaven.

It seems that the different BRS systems had a lot more autonomy than Rediffusion in terms of sets bulit / adapted to receive the cabeled signals.
Hello IT: Have you Tried Turning It Off & On Again?
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Old 17th Jan 2020, 9:14 am   #18
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Default Re: British relay television film

Excellent film, thanks for posting.

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Old 17th Jan 2020, 10:50 am   #19
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Default Re: British relay television film

Looks like an old chapel that building?
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Old 17th Jan 2020, 4:23 pm   #20
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Default Re: British relay television film

Yes it was. I believe that in its day it was Methodist.

It was massive. It housed all of the Relay line and amplifier equipment plus a big TV workshop and several offices. The area stores were also based there supplying equipment, spare parts, tubes and the like to various service and line departments across our area - Corby, Kettering, Northampton etc.

All gone now. The part of the building where my bench was as an apprentice is now car park!
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