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Photos by John A Butler and Steve Webster Page last updated: 2016-06-23


When the BBC 2 transmitter building programme began it was quickly realised that a service from Wenvoe on UHF would not cover much of western England. The BBC therefore sought a new site that would cover Bristol and Somerset and the obvious canditate was likely to be up on the Mendip Hills.

However, the original site which had been selected in September 1963 and that had subsequently received full planning permission - near East Harptree - ran into problems when the authorisation to build was revoked in December 1964 following representations from the Bristol Corporation that the airport at Lulsgate would be affected.

So the search was resumed and in March 1965 a new site was found at Pen Hill, just north of Wells. From the BBC's point of view this site was second best as the "view" into Bristol was not so good, and this resulted in the need to build several UHF relays to serve parts of the town not covered adequately by Mendip.

BBC 2 finally went into service on 1/12/1969.

Other service dates at Mendip were:

11/5/1970 BBC 1
30/5/1970 ITV
4/9/1970 Radio Bristol
2/11/1982 Channel 4
26/11/1989 Orchard FM
8/8/1994 Galaxy 101
30/3/1997 Channel 5
11/9/1997 BBC National DAB
9/9/1999 Digital One DAB
27/6/2001 Severn Estuary DAB. Closed 29/7/2013
3/12/2007 Radio Somerset replaces Radio Bristol on 95.5 MHz
24/3/2010 DSO 1
7/4/2010 DSO 2
8/8/2013 South East Wales DAB
30/1/2014 Bristol local TV
26/9/2014 Somerset DAB
29/2/2016 Sound Digital DAB

Chris Youlden comments:

Passive reflectors - both visible in the picture above, the lower one just below the lowest stay level, the upper one just above the highest-but-one stay level.

The lower one was for the BT main vision feeds to the transmitter. The signals were fed from Purdown straight to the mast, and reflected down to the dish which was on the building roof.

The higher one was at about the 600 feet level, adjacent to the third platform from the top of the mast. This reflector was for OBs and carried vision circuits to/from BBC Bristol via the Royal Fort. Again there was a dish at roof level.

Mendip index

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