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Photos by David Neale

Swains LaneThere are no broadcast services transmitted from Swains Lane in Highgate, North London but it is a site which has played several interesting and important roles over the years.

In TV terms it goes right back to the 1936 opening of Alexandra Palace. It was used as a 'receiving site' for outside broadcast transmissions (the pre-war radio link used 64 MHz, 1.5kW AM - fire-escape type aerial) and was linked to AP via a balanced co-ax post office cable.

Its role in the wartime Y-Gerat episode is documented here.

In 1945 the original wooden tower on this site was blown down in a gale whaich saw Southern England exposed to gusts of up to 100mph. Click here to read the London Evening Standard's report of this. (PDF)

The current tower was built as a replacement and the site was a medium wave DF transmitter site for London, in the 1950s incarnation of Group H.

Swains Lane has been widely used by BBC London Comms for diverse OB applications since but OBs have now pulled out of the site.

The BBC-owned microwave chain for the original 13-channel linear PCM radio distribution started at Swain's Lane. It fed Wrotham in one direction, and in the other it fed Sutton Coldfield via sites at Whipsnade, Thorpe Lodge and Meriden.

(At Sutton Coldfield the 70 MHz IF fed a further link to Holme Moss via relays at Tick Hill and Macclesfield Forest. The baseband fed the local PCM decoder bays and a PO tube down to Birmingham which carried the signal to Wenvoe.)

There was also an SHF feed of PCM to Wrotham. This chain is no longer in use as such. PCM is now carried by Energis fibre optic, but I understand the link to Sutton Coldfied is still in place and operational.

Swains Lane

Swains Lane

Swains Lane

Swains Lane

Whipsnade | Thorpe Lodge

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