thebigtower


caldbeck

 

Above: Caldbeck in July 2013, with just a single mast once again dominating the skyline.


THE CALDBECK TRANSMITTER is the UHF main station that serves Northern Cumbria and parts of South-West Scotland.  

It is sited approximately thirteen miles south-west of Carlisle, just north of the border with the Lake District National Park, and was originally the main ITV 405-line VHF Band III television transmitter covering the same area.  As such it shares the vicinity with a former BBC equivalent 405-line transmission site.  This is located two miles to the west at Sandale from where BBC FM radio is currently transmitted.

Originally Caldbeck served the Isle of Man, providing direct coverage to the north-east of the island, whilst also feeding relay stations serving the other parts.  However, this territory moved to the Granada/BBC North-West region upon Digital Switchover at Caldbeck and accordingly is now fed by the Winter Hill main station.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerials

 

 Old Mast Decommission

 

UHF Coverage Map

 

 

 (UPDATED JANUARY 2014)

 

 

 

 

 


Aerials>  Old Mast Decommission>  Station Plate/Site Images>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map


DIGITAL SWITCHOVER (DSO) AND TRANSMISSION STRUCTURE

The Scottish Border television region, which is based on the combined service area of the Caldbeck and Selkirk transmitters plus their dependent relays, was the first in the UK to complete the Digital Switchover process.

In connection with this, Caldbeck required full replacement of the original mast with a new taller structure to support the new digital transmission aerial system.  Whilst this project was still ongoing, Selkirk became the first UHF main station to complete Digital Switchover in November 2008.

Caldbeck is one of five main UHF transmitters sites nationwide that have been subject to full mast replacement for the purpose of Digital Switchover.  As far as all of these sites are concerned, the critical factors are the need for increased aerial elevation and the impracticalities of achieving this by way of extending the height of the original mast.

Construction of the new Caldbeck mast commenced in 2007 with the project taking two years to complete and culminating in Digital Switchover taking place at the station in two stages as follows -

Stage 1 (DSO1) - 24 June 2009
BBC Two analogue and digital Mux1 ceased broadcasting permanently and the new BBC multiplex (Mux BBC A/(PSB1) launched.

Stage 2 (DSO2) - 22 July 2009
All other analogue and low powered digital services ceased broadcasting permanently and the high powered digital multiplexes launched.

The digital multiplexes at Caldbeck include the BBC1 and 2 Scotland variations that were transmitted on analogue from the adjacent transmitter at Sandale, rendering the latter redundant for the purpose of television transmission.

The new mast that replaced the original 1961-built structure at Caldbeck is 338.3 metres (1110-ft) high and is currently the tallest lattice-frame-based television transmission structure in the UK and the second overall highest television mast in the UK, being exceeded only by the structure at Belmont.

The Black Hill transmitter, also featuring a 1961-built 306 metre mast, is the one other station of ITA origin to require a new structure for Digital Switchover, the three others being the ex-BBC sites at Divis, Rowridge and Tacolneston.

ORIGINAL MAST REMOVAL

In May 2011, decommissioning work on the old mast had commenced with the removal of all cable runs and other installations from the bottom of the structure up to a height of approximately 30 metres.

See Old Mast Decommission page for close-up images and also the wide images dated May 2011.

The old mast was removed completely during 2012 as reflected in the latest images from July 2013.



Aerials>  Old Mast Decommission>  Station Plate/Site Images>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map


VHF TELEVISION HISTORY

The Caldbeck station was constructed during 1960 and 1961 by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) for the purpose of extending coverage of ITV on 405-line VHF Band III to the main population centre of Carlisle and surrounding areas of Cumbria and South-West Scotland, as well as parts of the Isle of Man.

The BBC regarded this area as part of their 'North East' region as carried from their Band I transmitter at Sandale, to which the Caldbeck station was closely sited in accordance with established practice.  Caldbeck however was to be the foundation of a dedicated regional service for the Scottish Borders, for which a second station at Selkirk would be provided to serve areas to the east of the Cheviot Hills.

The site of the Caldbeck station, in the foothills of the Cumbrian Mountains, provided a ground elevation of 947-ft (289 metres) on which a 1000-ft (306 metre) mast was constructed to support the directional transmitting aerial.  This was designed to radiate the station's maximum Effective Radiated Power (ERP) of 100 kilowatts towards the north-east and the Isle of Man in the south-west, whilst 70 kilowatts was directed north-west across the Solway Firth towards Dumfries and Galloway and 20 kilowatts south-east towards Penrith and Westmorland.  Actual power was delivered by single vision and sound transmitters rated at 4 kilowatts and 1 kilowatt respectively.

Caldbeck came into regular operation with the start of ITV programme service in the area on 1 September 1961, transmitting the output from Carlisle-based Border Television on VHF Channel 11.

The Selkirk station followed Caldbeck into operation three-months later on 1 December 1961, marking the opening of the first unattended ITA transmitting station, in this instance remotely-controlled by and also fed directly from Caldbeck by its broadcast signal.

On 26 March 1965, the ITA opened the relay at Richmond Hill on The Isle of Man, near the island's main town of Douglas.  This was in order to 'formalise' coverage of Border Television across the whole of the island, the principal service area of Caldbeck reaching only northern parts with southern parts relying on fringe reception from Caldbeck and also Winter Hill and Black Mountain.  Like the Selkirk station, Richmond Hill utilised broadcast feed received direct from Caldbeck which was then in this instance re-broacast on VHF Channel 8.

One further relay was opened on 30 January 1968 at Whitehaven in order to resolve a small coverage deficiency in this coastal area.



Aerials>  Old Mast Decommission>  Station Plate/Site Images>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map


UHF HISTORY

By providing a 1000-ft mast that would be capable of supporting UHF transmission aerials, the ITA effectively planned Caldbeck as a future UHF main station from the outset, knowing that the BBC station at Sandale would be inappropriate for this function by virtue of its smaller mast and somewhat compact transmission site.

Caldbeck BBC2 was typically the first UHF transmitter in service but being a relatively late entrant into the BBC2 network, the window between the start of this service and BBC1 and ITV UHF from Caldbeck was small compared to other sites, BBC2 commencing 16 August 1971, ITV on 1 September 1971 (exactly ten years after the start of the original 405-line VHF service) and BBC1 on 16 October 1971.

The 'Border' area ITA Colour Control Room (CCR) came into operation at Caldbeck with the opening of the station's ITV UHF-colour service on 1 September 1971, its remit extended to include the subsequent ITV UHF-colour transmitter at Selkirk and those at associated relays of both main stations.

The Regional Operation Centre (ROC) at Emley Moor took over this responsibility in 1979.

 

UHF ANALOGUE FREQUENCIES

Caldbeck was notable for the non-standard UHF channel allocation range applied to the four main terrestrial analogue services, the group in question (28-30-32-34) being unique to this particular site.

It was also the only main UHF transmiter site, other than those situated around the south-coast of England (where non-standard channel groupings are necessary to avoid European interference) to use a non-standard channel group.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

400x560 pixel images

 

510x710 pixel images

 

Supersize Options

 

 

 (UPDATED JANUARY 2014)

 

 (UPDATED JANUARY 2014)

 

 (UPDATED JANUARY 2014)

 



Aerials>  Old Mast Decommission>  Station Plate/Site Images>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Station Plates / Site Images 2002

 

Site Images 2009 onwards  740x430 or 930x570 pixels

 

 

  (UPDATED JANUARY 2014)

 

 (UPDATED JANUARY 2014)

 


Aerials>  Old Mast Decommission>  Station Plate/Site Images>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map


 SITE INFORMATION


Location:

Faulds Brow, Brocklebank, Caldbeck, CA7 8DW

Grid Reference:

NY299425

Landlord:

Arqiva (Legacy: ITA/IBA/NTL Broadcast)

Ground Height:

289m

BBC Region:

North East & Cumbria / Scotland 

New Mast Height:

338.3m

ITV Region:

Tyne Tees & Border / Border Scotland

Old Mast Height:

306.7m

 

 

Aerial Height:

627m

 

UHF Tx Number:

13700


 CURRENT TRANSMISSIONS

Digital Television 

 

 

 

Analogue Radio (FM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service

: Ch/Polarisation/e.r.p

 

 

 Service:

(MHz)

(e.r.p)

PSB1

: 25 / H / 100kW (E)   

 

CFM:

96.4

1.25kW

PSB1

: 27 / H / 050kW (S)   

 BBC Scotland & National FM from Sandale

PSB2

: 28 / H / 100kW (E)   

 

PSB2

: 24 / H / 050kW (S)  

 

PSB3

: 30 / H / 100kW (E)

 

PSB3

: 22 / H / 100kW (S)

 

 Digital Radio (DAB)

COM4

: 23 / H / 050kW

 

 

 

COM5

: 26 / H / 050kW

 

 

Digital One (Block 11D)

COM6

: 29 / H / 050kW

 

 

 BBC National from Sandale

 

 

 

 

 

(E) = English variant  (S) = Scottish variant

 

PRE-DIGITAL SWITCHOVER UHF TRANSMISSIONS

(Shutdown completed 22 July 2009)

Analogue Television 

 

 

 

Digital Television

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service

  Ch/Polar/e.r.p

 

 

 

 

Service

 Ch/Polar/e.r.p

BBC1

: 30 / H / 500kW

 

 

 

 

Mux1

: 25 / H / 10kW

BBC2

: 34 / H / 500kW  

 

 

 

 

Mux2

: 23 / H / 10kW

ITV1

: 28 / H / 500kW (E)

 

 

 

 

MuxA

: 26 / H / 05kW

ITV1

: 24 / H / 020kW (S)

 

 

 

 

MuxB

: 39 / H / 05kW

Ch4

: 32 / H / 500kW

 

 

 

 

MuxC

: 45 / H / 05kW

Ch5

: 56 / H / 010kW

 

 

 

 

MuxD

: 42 / H / 05kW

Carlisle

: 48 / H / 010kW (Restricted Service Licence) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sandale       Selkirk

 

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