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Photos by Photos by Adam Barrington, mb21, Max Freer, James Pomfret, John A Butler and Jackie Staines Page last updated: 2022-11-25

Photos from the past

The Sandy Heath mast in Bedfordshire was built by the ITA in 1965 to fill what would otherwise have been a hole in the country's expanding UHF television network. When first completed on 13th July 1965, it provided improved VHF 405-line reception of Anglia Television in the West of their region using channel 6.

Cutting from Practical Television June 1964.

Initially the ch6 transmitter was only able to broadcast for 12 hours a day (between 12noon - 12 midnight. This restriction was rumoured to have been imposed to avoid interference to radio astronomy activities, presumably at the Mullard observatory in Cambridge. (Can anyone confirm this?)

Cutting from Practical Television, July 1966.
This item was probably written from a BBC press release, hence no mention of Anglia TV from Sandy Heath.

This photo from Adam Barrington of the original sign - taken in the 1980s - brought back memories for me of visiting the site in the mid-1960s when it was first built!

The ITA became the IBA who in turn gave way to NTL...

...who in turn became Arqiva. Wonder how much all these new signs actually cost...?

The site began transmitting BBC2 on 15th September 1969, with ITV from 18th January 1971 and BBC 1 from 22nd March 1971. It carried Channel 4 from launch day on 2-Nov-1982 and also transmitted Channel 5 from the launch on 30th March 1997, though at very low power from a lower (205m) aerial, directed mainly to the north and west.

The main analogue UHF aerial, unusually for a centrally located main station, was significantly directional, with maximum radiation to the north-west into Northamptonshire. Since DSO, the radiation pattern is now omni-directional.

ILR Bedford (Chiltern Radio) launched on 1st March 1982. BBC Radio Bedfordhire from 24th June 1985.

DAB service dates: BBC, 1-Aug-1997; Digital One, 14-Sep-1999; Herts/Beds/Bucks, 14-Feb-2013; Cambridge, 19-Jan-2016; Sound Digital, 29-Feb-2016.

This shot of the mast by John Butler was taken before the addition of the DTT aerials.

The photo above and the montage below were taken by Max Freer

From the top. 235m main UHF cylinder. 224m pre-DSO, DTT mux B. 212m the other five pre-DSO DTT multiplexes. 205m analogue Ch5, panels on the left. 200m BBC 3CR. 195m rotatable SHF (7GHz), on left. BBC East OB's. 190m ILR. 166m, just below second set of stays, BBC & D1 DAB aerials.

Sandy Heath index

Bow Brickhill | Kempston (Bedford MF) | Lewsey Farm (Luton MF) | Luton UHF | Zouches Farm

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