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THE TRANSMISSION GALLERY

WINTER HILL

Photos by Malcolm Pritchard and Simon Dee; notes by Russ J Graham and Tony Lyons Page last updated: 2011-11-21

General Introduction

The original establishment of the Winter Hill site was very difficult - hence (according to one theory) the name.

Early references to the proposed north-west area transmitter refer to "the Bolton transmitter", which is logical from the point of view of Bolton being probably the logical location for the mast given the ITA's hoped-for coverage pattern.

When planning permission was being sought, the site was referred to by its actual location - Rivington Moor. The name Rivington Moor appears in all documentation until the Winter of 1955/56. This winter wasn't that severe - unpleasant, but nothing like 1947, 1974/75 or several other "bad" winters of folk memory. But high up on the moors around Bolton, whilst trying to build - against a deadline - a huge open-lattice mast plus associated control room, switching centre and GPO links, the team of engineers can be forgiven for renaming the site.

They faced constant delay, days when visibility dropped to zero, temperatures well into the screaming brass monkey zone and high winds driving snow and hail into huge, seemingly impregnable drifts.

The name they chose supplanted the original Rivington Moor, and was adopted by the ITA.

To this day, a trip on the train past Bolton gives you a wonderful view of the mast, but the desolation and isolation of the site can still be seen. It is, almost literally, in the middle of nowhere, and contrives to look like a cold and unforgiving landscape even from the warmth of a (former) British Rail train on a bright summer's day. The ideal location for a film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, maybe - apart from being on the wrong side of the Pennines and having a bloody great tubular steel transmitting mast in the middle of it!

But there's an alternative explanation for the place-name, so just what IS it called?

According to a Hikers & Hill Walkers Book titled The West Pennine Moors, Winter Hill is the highest point of Rivington Moor.

The book goes on to say that in Saxon times the Hill was known as Edgar's Hill, named after a local Saxon Chieftain.

However some time later its name was changed to Wintry Hold Hill. The reason for this was due to local villagers storing food there - especially meat - in huts in the winter time to keep it fresh.

The named was then shortened in more recent times to Winter Hill.




It seems that all six tubular steel masts built in Britain (Winter Hill, Belmont, Mendip, Bilsdale, Waltham and, of course, the ill-fated 1265 foot mast at Emley Moor) originally had lifts installed. The lifts were designed to carry the aerial riggers to the top of the tubular steel section. Ascent of the weather shield protected lattice transmitting aerial support section was made by ladder. The idea of this feature was to protect the riggers against the wind & weather that they were subjected to working on lattice steel masts & towers.

Another useful feature is that the aircraft warning lamps can be swung in internally so that they can be changed.

In recent Years NTL have fitted 150 tons of damping chains at Winter Hill & Belmont to reduce the oscillations caused by high winds that were a factor in the collapse of the Emley Moor Mast in 1969.


This photo was taken in approximately 1987 or 1988... "in the days before fences, when you could sit with you back against the louvred shutters at the base of the mast eating your sandwiches, or alternately sunbathe on the massive concrete cable anchors."


Winter Hill index

Hameldon Hill | Lancaster

More photos of Winter Hill
The Winter Hill UHF aerial

This site is now included in the Update List for the following reason:
April to December 2017: main and reserve UHF aerials to be replaced. No specific dates at present.

Please let us know if you think there is another reason photos should be updated.
To do so, click here.

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