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THE TRANSMISSION GALLERY

SADDLEWORTH

Photos by Harry Broughton Page last updated: 2017-11-21

Photos taken Summer 2016

Here are some photographs of the Saddleworth TX I took a while back now.

Saddleworth is a nice collection of hamlets and villages in the Pennine Hills - hills that also block incoming Winter Hill signals for TV and - albeit only 5 miles away - Holme Moss for FM.

The transmitter sits on top of a hill that's known locally as 'Wharmton' and is a good 350m above sea level.


This first shot shows the mast from afar and as you can see it overlooks a great portion of the rest of NW England including Manchester, Cheshire, and into Staffordshire and N Wales. But it's only really one service which is broadcast to all these places - the ILR station Key 103 Manchester.

All other services including TV and BBC National/local FM and DAB are a much more local affair beamed North and South down the Upper Tame Valley.


A general view of the mast which is coincidentally celebrating its 50th birthday - construction started on this in the late '60s, though I think only the UHF cylinder and the Rx trough are that old.


The Tx cylinder has little or no output to the West over Manchester/Cheshire etc. probably because of Moel-Y-Parc as co-channel interference would be a bigger issue than it already is (strong Welsh channels are receivable across much of Oldham and Manchester).

Instead the primary service area for TV is Saddleworth (historically in Yorkshire), Mossley (historically in Lancashire), and Stalybridge (historically in Cheshire). Confusing?! The county debate is still a huge topic particularly in Saddleworth, but as far as UHF purposes go it's always been a Winter Hill relay as opposed to Emley Moor.


The 4 Tx cross-polarised Yagis for Key 103 - the only such aerials which are beamed out to the West - making the station receivable well into Cheshire and into North Wales. They replaced the older aerials (shown in Malcom Pritchard's 1982 photo) in about 1986 (when the station moved to 103.00 MHz). Piccadilly FM became Key 103 in 1988.
Immediately below the UHF cylinder we also see the DAB radio Yagis, pointing roughly north and south.


This seemingly weather-beaten BBC FM receive aerial is receiving the 250Kw Holme Moss which is a mighty 5-6 miles away! So I doubt the state of the aerial is affecting the incoming signal in any way.


Some closeups - the two vertical dipoles on the left are Marconis for BBC FM Tx which serves a similar area to Digital TV - BBC Manchester on 95.1 from Holme Moss is particularly poor in Saddleworth and Mossley, despite only being around 5-7 miles away.

At 11,000 homes this could well be in the top 5 in the country for the smallest coverage areas for a full 6 MUX DTT mast. That and the fact that all areas served aren't particularly huge - Saddleworth is mostly rural and Mossley is no bigger than say Glossop or Todmorden. Stalybridge is a medium sized town but most of it receives Winter Hill and all locations South of Stalybridge such as Hyde and Stockport - are in the same boat. So in all the Saddleworth transmitter was pretty lucky to receive DTT in 1998 in my opinion based on how relatively little it is used.

Digital Radio took 17 years longer to arrive than Digital TV; the Tx aerials are the ones just below the cylinder on the left; these are firing north, the pair firing south are hidden by the mast structure in this photo.


One of the more older pieces of equipment on the mast is the trough on Winter Hill which is now probably used for RBS since the transmitter is line fed.

To the above and right of the trough is an unknown yagi type facing towards Mancheser City Centre - not sure what its purpose is.


These two log periodics are facing the camera but they are still visible - they point towards Winter Hill as well and may be an inactive RBS backup link of some sort if the main trough failed. If not then they are most certainly not RBL and I doubt they are acting as Tx aerials so their purpose is still officially unknown!






Due to the weather I couldn't get many nice views but this top-down view of the village of Greenfield (part of Saddleworth) below shows the steepness of the local terrain.


And this last photo is taken on a different day - the transmitter is just about visible on the centre extreme right and shows its view towards the NW with the town of Rochdale just behind. Further visits to this site will have to be on a sunny day to get better photos.

At the transmitter base and indeed all areas around here it's great for DXing - I could receive a full crisp stereo RDS RTE Radio 1 from Mount Leinster 250+ miles away in my car during my visit.

Saddleworth index

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