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 30th May 2020, 4:49 pm   #41
GrimJosef
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Oxfordshire, UK.
Posts: 3,000
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Moll View Post
... OS maps are available online, scroll left a bit from Stokenchurch and a mast is shown between Hill Farm and Kiln Farm just north of the M40, which (from my distant memories of driving that way in the past) seems about right ...
Thanks Dave. You're right, that is the location of the tower. I was aware that it is on the current map. I just wondered if it was kept 'hidden' in the Cold Wartime past.

Cheers,

GJ
__________________
http://www.ampregen.com
GrimJosef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 5:44 pm   #42
red16v
Hexode
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Winchester, Hampshire, UK.
Posts: 320
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Granitehill View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparks View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Granitehill View Post
The microwave network was a carrier of signals - not an end-point transmitter.

BT carried the video signals from the various studios to the main station transmitters. At that point BBC/IBA combined the video with the audio and transmitted to the public. (Sound was originally sent over high-quality landline; in later times it went to "Sound in Sync" multiplexing on the video stream). BBC had a small number of microwave links of their own, but the vast majority was BT. The BBC management didn't see themselves as "bit-carriers", I understand.

What is not generally known is that BT also provided network switching to route programme sources to regional transmitters, and this switched as required by daily programme schedules. This was controlled by several BT-manned network switching centres (NSCs). The largest was at the BT Tower (actually in the associated ground-level building). This was a large installation, full of monitors and switching consoles. Not some kind of mock-up as has been suggested. I worked in the most northerly NSC in Aberdeen.
The whole system worked well as a collaborative team structure (BBC/BT/IBA). I wonder if such an organisation would be viable these days, given modern business and management practices ?
I learn a lot on this site! Were the NSCs for both BBC and ITV stations?
As far as memory goes, ITV switching was carried out by BT (since the programme providers were all separate companies). The BBC carried some switching themselves, but their links also routed via the NSCs. This allowed maintenance, cross patching and possible re-routes under fault conditions.
The active channels were quality monitored at the NSCs by BT - and any loss or signal degradation had to be attended to within seconds ! Of course they paid BT very serious money for this...
Would just like to clarify this. BT was of course responsible for switching the circuits between the ITV companies according to the daily programme schedule as required. But the individual ITV companies were responsible for what was actually carried on those circuits and did that switching on their own premises. I used to perform network switching duties at one of the major ITV companies. The companies were ‘just’ programme contractors (not broadcasters) and were not permitted to own circuits or indeed to even book circuits. We had to go through the Lines booking staff at the IBA. One or two of the companies did have their own private microwave circuits, from memory ATV and Anglia? but these were definitely not used for network programme distribution. Don’t know anything about the BBC’s arrangements.
red16v is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 5:50 pm   #43
AC/HL
Moderator
 
AC/HL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 8,437
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

This site, provided by the National Library of Scotland, is useful for searching some historical maps.
The various options allow you to find a location, in several different ways, than look at an earlier map for comparison: https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side...s=11&right=osm
__________________
Bill, BVWS member
AC/HL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 5:53 pm   #44
Pellseinydd
Heptode
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Flintshire, UK.
Posts: 575
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrimJosef View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Moll View Post
... OS maps are available online, scroll left a bit from Stokenchurch and a mast is shown between Hill Farm and Kiln Farm just north of the M40, which (from my distant memories of driving that way in the past) seems about right ...
Thanks Dave. You're right, that is the location of the tower. I was aware that it is on the current map. I just wondered if it was kept 'hidden' in the Cold Wartime past.

Cheers,

GJ
It was on the 1977 1:2,500 and on the 1980 1:10,000 maps. Click on the '-' in top left several times to get the 'free' zoom level.
Pellseinydd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 5:58 pm   #45
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 4,238
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Was there one of the heavy metal lattice versions just south of Carlisle? In a previous working life we did some work on BT sites and there was a site there which had a really strong looking, oversized mast with some big microwave horns on the corners. I used to be able to see the mast as soon as I crossed the M6 from east to west, but I've just tried looking from the same spot on street view and I can't seem to see it. Has it been taken down?
SiriusHardware is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 6:22 pm   #46
duncanlowe
Heptode
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Stafford, Staffs. UK.
Posts: 790
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
Was there one of the heavy metal lattice versions just south of Carlisle? In a previous working life we did some work on BT sites and there was a site there which had a really strong looking, oversized mast with some big microwave horns on the corners. I used to be able to see the mast as soon as I crossed the M6 from east to west, but I've just tried looking from the same spot on street view and I can't seem to see it. Has it been taken down?
There was apparently:
http://www.dgsys.co.uk/btmicrowave/sites/110.php

EDIT: This?
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Screenshot 2020-05-30 at 18.23.18.jpg
Views:	90
Size:	40.7 KB
ID:	207239  
duncanlowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 7:26 pm   #47
Dave Moll
Dekatron
 
Dave Moll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: West Cumbria (CA13), UK
Posts: 4,610
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrimJosef View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Moll View Post
... OS maps are available online, scroll left a bit from Stokenchurch and a mast is shown between Hill Farm and Kiln Farm just north of the M40, which (from my distant memories of driving that way in the past) seems about right ...
Thanks Dave. You're right, that is the location of the tower. I was aware that it is on the current map. I just wondered if it was kept 'hidden' in the Cold Wartime past.

Cheers,

GJ
This map was published 1945 and states "Full Revision 1930 with later corrections".
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Stokenchurch 1945.jpg
Views:	34
Size:	84.4 KB
ID:	207241  
__________________
Mending is better than Ending (cf Brave New World by Aldous Huxley)
Dave Moll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 8:13 pm   #48
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 4,238
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by duncanlowe View Post
EDIT: This?
Has to be doesn't it? That is unmistakably a GPO / BT building it is hanging off the side of, although the big conch-shell horns I remember like the ones on some of the other masts in this thread are gone.
SiriusHardware is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 8:39 pm   #49
merlinmaxwell
Dekatron
 
merlinmaxwell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK.
Posts: 9,414
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
but I'd be very surprised if any flying at typical balloon heights over the site itself would have been tolerated.
We didn't fly over it, but it was on the pilots map.
__________________
Cats have staff, it's dogs that have owners.
merlinmaxwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th May 2020, 10:21 pm   #50
Sparks
Hexode
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 339
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

I hope all these microwave towers are retained, whatever their design or name. I've always called the one at Tinshill 'The Cookridge Tower', rightly or wrongly. Likewise, the taller one at Heaton Park was also called The Cookridge Tower, even though it wasn't!
Sparks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 12:07 am   #51
Oldcodger
Octode
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: West Midlands, UK.
Posts: 1,613
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
I don't know if they are all abandoned, but the microwave network they supported is no longer in use, which is why they no longer have visible horns or dishes. This is also true of the PO/BT/Telecom Tower in London.

They were built in the early 60s, essentially for the Backbone military comms project which transferred air defence radar plots from around the country to UK and Nato command bunkers. Backbone was also used to communicate with various military and government bunkers, who could join the network by emerging from their holes in the ground and inserting a temporary antenna into the microwave beam. Their basic structure was designed to survive a near miss from a nuclear warhead, though obviously they wouldn't be functional without repairs.

(I think this is all declassified now )

Hopefully it is(else I might find a call from goons). But in the late 50's/early 60's the backbone, especially to the States was fed over three routes, before the routes from the south coast started to provide UK- USA comms.
The red phone route( USA White house -Kremlin) was in those days fed over any one of three routes from London to the States , via Oban TAT 1/aka OB/B, a cavern built into a hillside.
Oldcodger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 12:40 am   #52
Refugee
Dekatron
 
Refugee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Worksop, Nottinghamshire, UK.
Posts: 4,552
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

I can still remember this one in north Buckinghamshire from my childhood as we traveled up and down the A40 and later the (new) motorway later.
It also had the horns like the ones that used to be on the post office tower. There is hardly anything on it now.
https://www.google.com/maps/@51.6622...7i13312!8i6656
Refugee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 2:02 am   #53
hamid_1
Hexode
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: High Wycombe, Bucks. UK.
Posts: 489
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

I've passed by that tower near Stokenchurch on the A40 / M40 lots of times over the years - it's about 15 minutes' drive from my house. I noticed the dishes gradually disappearing as time went by. It looks pretty bare now, but I think there are some antennas still in use (possibly mobile phone or DAB?) and there's still a red warning light on top for low-flying aircraft. During the Second World War, a British RAF plane returning from Germany crashed a couple of miles away in Cowleaze Wood. At the crash site there is a small memorial to the crew who were all killed. The area is good for walking and exploring. There's Aston Rowant nature reserve, with far-reaching views of the countryside as well as Cowleaze Wood which has a spectacular natural display of bluebells every year in May.

I assumed that the tower's original purpose was to carry telephone calls. I didn't know they were used for TV or possibly secret military purposes. I realised they were part of a network, as I have seen similar ones in other parts of the country. Purdown in north Bristol is another one that I remember, of a different design. It's highly visible from the M32 motorway when approaching Bristol from the north. Since these towers are highly visible, it would seem rather pointless omitting them from maps. If they really were for military use, they're not exactly a well-kept secret - the enemy could still find them easily and then destroy them.

I presume some of these towers will be demolished eventually when no longer of any use, like the huge cooling towers of Didcot power station, another landmark once visible from this area of the M40.
hamid_1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 7:53 am   #54
Dave Moll
Dekatron
 
Dave Moll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: West Cumbria (CA13), UK
Posts: 4,610
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Moll View Post
This map was published 1945 and states "Full Revision 1930 with later corrections".
On closer inspection (with higher magnification) I realise that what I mistook for an antenna symbol was, in fact, a "T" (for telephone kiosk) and it was the other side of the A40 anyway. Presumably 1945 was some while before the tower was built.

The earliest map I have showing the tower is 1968:
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Stokenchurch 1968.jpg
Views:	24
Size:	54.7 KB
ID:	207263  
__________________
Mending is better than Ending (cf Brave New World by Aldous Huxley)
Dave Moll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 8:49 am   #55
duncanlowe
Heptode
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Stafford, Staffs. UK.
Posts: 790
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Moll View Post

On closer inspection (with higher magnification) I realise that what I mistook for an antenna symbol was, in fact, a "T" (for telephone kiosk) and it was the other side of the A40 anyway. Presumably 1945 was some while before the tower was built.

The earliest map I have showing the tower is 1968:
Built in 1964, so makes sense.
duncanlowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 9:16 am   #56
Dave Moll
Dekatron
 
Dave Moll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: West Cumbria (CA13), UK
Posts: 4,610
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Thanks for confirming that.
__________________
Mending is better than Ending (cf Brave New World by Aldous Huxley)
Dave Moll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 9:48 am   #57
lesmw0sec
Heptode
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Carmel, Llannerchymedd, Anglesey, UK.
Posts: 958
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by rambo1152 View Post
I've always been fascinated by the"Chilton" a

Microwave links are secure partly because of their small beam-width,

but in the other hand...
https://mapio.net/pic/p-7866319/
Not secure enough to prevent an excellent university rag week stunt, when the students overcame the link to the Rowridge FM service and managed to broadcast their material for some time!
lesmw0sec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 10:50 am   #58
paulsherwin
Moderator
 
paulsherwin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 19,770
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamid_1 View Post
I assumed that the tower's original purpose was to carry telephone calls. I didn't know they were used for TV or possibly secret military purposes.
The Stokenchurch tower was a major node for both civilian and military traffic. It served the large military command bunker at RAF High Wycombe. This was one of the main motivations to build the network in the first place.

For many years there was a dish on the southern corner of the central Oxford telephone exchange which appeared to be working Stokenchurch. Possibly this was some sort of backup circuit, though it could have been for many things. I think it's still there, though presumably out of use.
paulsherwin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 1:53 pm   #59
turretslug
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Surrey, UK.
Posts: 3,348
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by rambo1152 View Post
Microwave links are secure partly because of their small beam-width
I recall an infamous episode where a tower had been built in a very particular position, allegedly so that the spooks of one state could eavesdrop on the governmental communications of another "over the water".
turretslug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st May 2020, 4:45 pm   #60
Pellseinydd
Heptode
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Flintshire, UK.
Posts: 575
Default Re: BT 'Chiltern' telecom towers

Quote:
Originally Posted by turretslug View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by rambo1152 View Post
Microwave links are secure partly because of their small beam-width
I recall an infamous episode where a tower had been built in a very particular position, allegedly so that the spooks of one state could eavesdrop on the governmental communications of another "over the water".
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.
Pellseinydd is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 5:30 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.