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Photos by Christopher Bell, Paul Stafford and Paul Bainbridge Page last updated: 2020-05-10

Updated November 2013 and September 2016

The Fenham transmitter is sited on the edge of a covered reservoir at one of the highest points in Newcastle (about 125m above sea level), so it's not easy to get near it.

Fenham was originally a BBC landlord site which entered service with BBC 2 in December 1970. ITV was added in December 1971, BBC 1 from September 1972, Channel 4 from August 1983 with Channel 5 available from the launch on 30th March 1997. The UHF cylinder contains a south-southwest facing cardioid. DTT was added in 1998. DSO was on 12th and 26th September 2012. Mux 7 was added on 17th June 2014 and Mux 8 on 25th June 2015.

BBC national FM and Radio Newcastle were added in May 1986, with Radio 1 from 28th January 1994. Century Radio (96.2 MHz) launched on 1st September 1994. Metro Radio, was added in 1995, Classic FM on 15th July 1996, Galaxy 105-106 (105.6 MHz) on 6th May 1999 and Smooth Radio (107.5 MHz) on 22nd November 2007.

DAB service dates are: Tyne & Wear, 15th November 2000; North-east, 11th June 2001 (Closed 29th July 2013); Digital One, 30th August 2001; BBC, 26th May 2004.

Christopher Bell says: "My old Secondary School overlooks the mast but it's not the same mast from when I was there, the current one was erected in 1996." To provide provision for Channel 5. Ed.

Paul's photos (above and below) were taken from West Road, to the south of the site

Using 15x optical zoom Paul has captured sufficient detail to show the main broadcast antennas and a number of oddities. The whip antenna at 45 degrees is just one!

We are grateful to Martin Brown for clarification of the UHF transmit arrangements

From the top: the condition of the cylinder suggests this was not replaced at DSO. The small cylinder to the right was for pre-DSO MUX D (channel 57) - the only interim service out-of band for the main (Band IV) cylinder

The Ofcom data implies there are at least two antennas for Band II: one is at 45m and gives near-omnidirectional coverage for Smooth Radio - assumed to be the dipole on the left at the top of the structure. Most services are documented as sharing an antenna at 43m with a deep null to the north and east - presumably the Marconi dipole mounted just below the top of the tower with screening behind. Capital and Real Radio are shown as using an antenna at 42m, with similar directional characteristics - most likely an error in the data since there doesn't seem to be anything at that level? All services are vertical polarisation only

Below are two tiers of wrap around panels for Channel 5 analogue

Further down and almost end-on to the camera are two 5-element DAB yagis. Ofcom has this apperture as 35m and shared by all DAB services, with maximum ERP to the south

Fenham was an analogue TV relay of Pontop Pike, and remains an FM relay of PP. Near the bottom of the photo we can see the a Band II log which presumably faces PP. There are, however five UHF logs visible: two of them could be directed towards Pontop Pike, two more are slightly to the east - would reception of Bilsdale have been possible as a reserve (possibly for C5)? There's a fifth log, "behind" one of the DAB yagis and pointing somewhere towards north - what did that receive?

Below: Paul Bainbridge visited the adjacent CR site at Westgate College in September 2016...

...gone are the two tiers of panels for Channel 5 analogue. The small cylinder remains (on the left when seen from this direction) and it's clear the Band II dipole is some distance from the face of the tower. The DAB yagis can be seen side-on about half way down the main structure.

Fenham index

Newcastle (Westgate College)

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