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Photos by Peter Bigwood

The North mast

The incoming Radio FiveLive

One of the two valves in each of
the Radio FiveLive transmitters
- this one was a spare!

A spare L.E.D. mast light


The four 50kW BBC Radio FiveLive transmitters

The Radio FiveLive feeds to the masts...

... identified when the transmitters were used for BBC Radio 2.

The two Virgin Radio transmitters

Virgin Radio transmitter combiner and aerial feed

The talkSPORT transmitters

A close-up of one of the talkSPORT transmitters

The engineers' room

Guy Stanbury writes with this anecdote:
As a Holme Moss reserve engineer on the infamous "2S list" between 1982 - 1988, I was lucky enough to spend a total of twenty months at the North Regional medium-wave trnamsitter at Moorside Edge.

This began with a two-month training stint in 1982 while the original building and equipment was in daily use - water-cooled 150kW Marconi transmitters T3A and B (Radio 2, Radio 1), air-cooled RCA 50kW (Radio 3), and the fifty-year old Marconi water-cooled 75kW multi-service reserves T1 and T2.

The latter needed manually-started motor-generator sets for all of their supplies: filament, grid-bias, auxiliary and main HT, all fed from open-front knife-switch control boards with exposed 235v DC voltages all over them.

It was almost a working museum, including the Ruston-Hornsby 6-cylinder marine diesel generators which were air-operated manual start machines; load balancing was a very interactive process, requiring a system of blasts on a 24v car horn that were the transmitter engineer's way of communicating 'volts up / volts down please' with the man responsible for 'putting the engines on the board'.

I loved the place, the people, the countryside, the views ... and Elaine Taylor's canteen meals were legendary, prepared with kitchen equipment that was fed from the station's main 235v DC supplies:

"Na then, young Guy - don't you go messin' abaht wi' them diesels today - ah've got Yorkshire puddins' in t'oven an' they'll collapse ter nowt if you muck around wi t'electric!"

When the new station was established, it was followed by a gradual change-over from a 24/365 staffed operation to one that ran entirely unattended. So for the first few months, the existing staff continued with an operational rota of day, evening and night-shifts.

One of my tasks was to set up and paint the enginering tool 'shadow-board' that can be seen in the website picture of the engineers' room.

Having painted the baseboard in pale green to give a good contrast, I outlined each tool position in pencil then carefully filled in the shape with black gloss paint. This took the best part of a day to complete, so I decided to leave the painted board to dry during the evening and nightshifts by leaving it face up on a table in the transmitter hall, strategically positioned underenath the air handling outlets that distributed transmitter-warmed air around the building. I also left the tin of black gloss paint along with the brush close by, so that other staff would appreciate that the paint was wet/soft and could mark clothing and so on.

The evening shift engineers were very careful to make a note in their handover to the night-shift team ... which just happened to include a time-served Moorside engineer by the name of Ken Swaine.

The next morning, I arrived for work, keen to make a start on getting the toolboard into position on the wall. I was met by Ken as I walked into the building.

"Er ... Guy," he began - "I think there's been a bit of problem with your toolboard - that paint tin must've leaked during the night - you'd better check it out."

Mortified, I rushed through the double doors from the engineers' room into the transmitter hall. There was the toolboard in the middle of the hall where I'd left it, but with the paint tin on its side ... and a huge black stain radiating outwards across the surface of the board. All sorts of things were going through my mind about how I would have to strip the whole lot back and start again, or would it be quicker and cheaper simply to start again with a new piece of plywood. I gardually became aware of some barely-suppressed guffaws behind me. "I'm glad you think it's funny," I retorted - "It's taken me bloody ages to get that shadow board laid out with all those tools!"

"Have you looked at it then? What's happened?" grinned Ken. I moved closer to the toolboard - and realised that the black paint 'stain' was actually a very carefully-cut out piece of black polythene dustbin bag ....

I've had a few practical jokes played on me in my time, but that one really was a classic!

In passing on this little gem, I do so with many thanks to the Moorside Edge North Regional staff (some of whom are sadly no longer with us) but who I will never forget for their kindness, generosity, fun ... and endless patience with a rather serious-minded Southerner ... who obviously needed a good few corners smoothing off! -

Geoff Dukes, Don McCarthy, Lilian Nolan, Eric Brown, Jock MacPherson (I've still got the MT9L, Jock!), Ken Swaine, John Thompson, Barry Houghton, Elaine Taylor, Tony Norcliffe, David Taylor, David Swift, Pete Smith ...

The 800kW generator next door to the engineers' room

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