THE TRANSMISSION GALLERY
|Photos by Mark Carver||Page last updated: 2021-02-25|
|The Hannington site, on Cottington Hill, Hampshire, transmits analogue and digital television, digital radio and the local FM stations BBC Berkshire on 104.1MHz and Heart FM on 102.9MHz.|
The BBC/ITA identified a need for a UHF station in the N.Hants area in the sixties, and Cottington Hill was selected. There was already a long established 200ft Home Office/MOD mast on the site but Basingstoke Council would not allow the BBC to build an additional mast next to this. Agreement was finally reached with the Home Office, that the BBC would build a 450ft replacement mast, and that the Home Office would remain site landlord, and 'own' the first 200ft of the structure. BBC 2 was the first to enter service on 13th June 1970, BBC 1 followed on 3rd May 1971, ITV from 1st November 1971 and Channel 4 was available from the start on 2nd November 1982.
The Home Office sold the site to NTL although NGW were responsible for the main Ch 1-4 analogue TV, DTT, DAB, Band II antennas, feeders, and combining units, as well as power provision for the broadcast services. All academic now, of course, as the two companies have merged and become Arqiva.
Analogue Channel 5 was added on 15th August 1997, however coverage from this site was severely restricted because the Ch5 radiators are much lower down at just 100ft, and only on the North face. They are between the 2nd and 3rd microwave dishes from the bottom of the mast.
Other signals from this station can be received fairly easily in parts of South London and Hannington transmissions can provide an emergency programme feed to Crystal Palace, should its normal source fail.
Interestingly the Band II radiators were installed in 1985 as the BBC were about to launch Radio Berks. and Surrey. At the same time Reading based Radio 210 were awarded a new larger franchise that covered Basingstoke, Newbury, and Andover. The IBA approached the BBC and Home Office for permission to use the site for the new service (4kW ERP). The Home Office were worried about emissions interfering with their equipment on the site, and the IBA/BBC and antenna manufacturer (Alan Dick?) spent 3-4 weeks in June 1986 conducting tests from various design antennas on the two allocated frequencies. 102.9/104.1.
After the BBC commissioned the array, plans for BBC Berks. and Surrey were put on hold. Hence Radio 210 entered service on 1-Jan-1987 with a 'Rolls Royce' antenna system, installed for them by the BBC! Radio Berks. finally arrived on 21st January 1992.
The site is notorious for two events. The first in 1976 when students managed to swamp out the off-air TV feed from Rowridge, and transmitted during the ITN news one Saturday evening a message from "Vrillon of Ashtar Command", orbiting Earth in his space ship! The second was in July 1994, when during the World Cup Final, someone switched off both HT electricity feeds to the site. The switches were in opposite directions, each about a mile away. Interestingly no actual damage was done to the switching equipment however. All services were off air for 2 hours. Southern Electricity offered a reward but no-one has been convicted.
Hannington as a directorate of Telecommunications Depot
Spoof message broadcast from Hannington
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