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Photos by Dave Burrows and Rob Shufflebotham Page last updated: 2017-07-07

Updated May 2008 (text updated July 2017)

Sutton Common is one of those monolithic BT "backbone" towers, which takes its site name from the hilltop it sits on, just south of Macclesfield. It's positioned between the BT towers at Pye Green, to the south and Heaton Park, Manchester, to the north as far as the backbone network is concerned. I don't think there's an east/west backbone link through here, but I could be wrong. I know these towers normally have a crane built in to the structure, right at the top of the tower, to assist in rigging, so I don't know how they would get the crane to work on this one with all the additional metalwork on the top!

In common with most of these sites, BT have removed the original horn antennas and replaced them with more compact dishes, although some of the dishes fitted here [as of 2008] looked quite old and weathered.

Editor's note: Sutton Common did originally include a crane but the top of the structure was modified somewhere along the line. Vintage photos are available via the link below.

The first broadcast use of the Site was for Signal Radio early in 1990. The service on 96.4 MHz has operated under a variety of names. At one stage the site was grouped with the Stockport ILR franchise but was re-assigned to the Stoke licence in January 2002.

The history of Silk FM is simpler, launching in May 1998 it has operated under the same name throughout, serving Macclesfield and adjacent areas. The allocated frequency 106.9 MHz is shared with a service from Moel-y-Parc and arrangements have been made to improve the coverage in recent years. The June 2017 page shows the new antenna. Whilst this update was being processed it was realised the detail of the old Silk FM antenna was not clear - Rob found another photo which may provide the answer!

DAB came to Sutton Common in 2001 with the North West multiplex. The Stoke & Stafford multiplex arrived in May 2004 and the North West antenna now carries the Manchester multiplex.

Above: as seen in 2008 by Rob. Below: an earlier view from Dave.

Seen from the south (the big dishes faced Pye Green). From this side a Band II antenna is just visible on the left...

...indeed there is a log periodic and also a yagi, both slant polarised. After much discussion we now believe the log was (still is) used by Signal and the yagi (since removed) formed part of the antenna for Silk FM.

The Stoke & Stafford DAB antenna appears not to have been present at this time - the antennas for North West DAB would not be visible from this side.

Rob took a closer look in May 2008.

Seen from the east - most of the large dishes on the right faced Heaton Park (Manchester) but no broadcast antennas are immediately apparent.

From just west of north: on the left - between the two open-face dishes are two yagis which served the North West DAB multiplex. On the right are two more used by the Stoke and Stafford service.

Just visible above the large dish on the right is the end of a vertically polarised yagi - which we now believe formed part of the antenna for Silk FM.

Moving down slightly, the log for Signal comes into view as does part of the slant-polarised yagi (behind the DAB antennas on the right).

Other views of the slant-polarised log and yagi...

...and the Stoke DAB the hint of a vertically polarised yagi just below the mounting pole for the DAB antennas.

An odd combination. Ofcom gives maximum ERP on bearing 230 for Signal's FM service and 250 for the Stoke DAB multiplex.

This previously unpublished photo (actually a composite) shows a second yagi on the left - vertically polarised and facing somewhere around north west. We now believe Silk FM used both the yagis in combination, giving a rather odd radiation pattern in the horizontal plane but covering a fairly broad area with vertical polarisation.

As of 2017 both yagis had been removed but the log remains.

Sutton Common index

Pye Green (BT)

BT Sites: Sutton Common

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