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Photos by David Stanley Page last updated: 2023-10-28
Stone Farm Kent
NGR: TR156370 Maps: Google  Bing (Ord Surv)   Site Height:       Structure Height:
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Channel Travel Radio base station

In France, Autoroute Radio has been on air since the early 1990's providing a service of travel news and music on 107.7 MHz along most of the autoroutes in that country. Channel Travel Radio (CTR) operated a similar service along the M20 from Ashford to Folkestone on 107.6 MHz. CTR launched on 1st August 1995. Its aim was to provide travel information for people using the various travel routes across the channel. Whilst it was licensed to Eurotunnel the Radio Authority impartiality rules meant that it had to provide travel information for all of the cross channel options - tunnel, ferry and hovercraft. The station operated from studios in the Eurotunnel control room at the Folkestone terminal.

The service was licensed by the Radio Authority as a long term RSL. This placed a number of technical constraints on the transmissions in common with other RSL’s. These included limits on the antenna height and transmitter power/ERP.

The original intention was for a main transmitter to be located at the Eurotunnel site near Folkestone with relays along the M20 motorway. The first phase would provide coverage of 13+ miles of the motorway from Folkestone to Ashford. A second phase would extend that to Maidstone and to Dover along the A20. It is possible that the service would have grown further depending on its success. In the end only the first phase was completed.

Following setbacks with planning permission the transmission plan was revised to have a base station at Stone Farm near Saltwood (which was originally the first relay point). This would also provide coverage of the Eurotunnel terminal. Making Stone Farm the base station meant that an existing Orange mobile phone tower could be used for the antennas instead of installing two new poles and removing the need for another tower at the terminal. Planning application 95/0207/SH for Stone Farm was approved on this basis.

Transmission was on 107.6MHz. Stone Farm base station transmitted using a pair of 4 element yagi antennas placed back to back. There were three active deflector relays along the M20 towards Ashford at Sellinge followed by Evegate and finally Willesborough. The relays used highly directional log periodic antennas to confine coverage as much as possible to the motorway corridor.

Eurotunnel had subcontracted the operation of the station to Capital Radio and later on Radio Services Ltd with the engineering handled by NTL. The service was shut down with no notice (to the Radio Authority) at midnight on the 27th September 2000.

This is actually the Eurotunnel terminal where the original plan called for the base station. The Radio Authority checked signal levels here with their Renault Espace based survey vehicle. Thanks are due to Ofcom for providing this and other original photos.

An existing Orange mobile phone pole mast was used as the base station at Stone Farm. In this photo the left hand antenna points towards the Eurotunnel terminal. Note the slant polarisation of the antennas which was important for the operation of the relay sites.

This is how the site looks in October 2023. The pole mast has not been changed.

The mounting brackets are the only remaining part of the CTR installation.

The first relay from Stone Farm was Sellinge followed by Evegate and finally Willesborough.

Evegate | Sellinge | Willesborough

More about the history of Channel Tunnel Radio

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