thebigtower


oxford

 


THE OXFORD TRANSMITTER is the UHF and BBC National FM main station for the south and south-east Midlands.

Located in the village of Beckley on the north-eastern outskirts of Oxford, it serves Oxfordshire plus parts of all surrounding counties including Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire.

Towards the south-east the service area borders with the north-western fringe of Greater London, where the reciprocal overlap with the Crystal Palace transmitter is mitigated by the presence of the Chiltern Hills.

 

TRANSMISSION STRUCTURE

Three structures occupy this site, including two lattice towers used mainly for non-broadcast-related purposes, whilst broadcast services are transmitted from the main 154.4 metre (506-ft) square cross-section lattice stayed mast.  With the inclusion of the pre-Digital Switchover UHF antennas at the top of the structure the overall height was increased to 169 metres (554-ft).  The new main UHF aerial, as initially installed and later replaced following the fire incident in May 2010, is slightly shorter and therefore produces an inclusive height of 165.7 metres (544-ft).


Aerials>  Aerials DSO>  Transmission Site>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map


 

 

 

 

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 December 2004

 

  December 2004

 

  December 2009

 

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  December 2009

The above photos were taken with a high quality camera.  Each image has 2 different sizes to select from.  Click on the size that best fits the resolution of your computer screen or device.


REGIONAL RE-ALLOCATION

Oxford historically carried the Midlands regional output of ITV and the former 'London and South East' region for BBC1.

However, with the development of sub-regional broadcasting and with a large proportion of the population covered by Oxford  straddling the so-called M4 Corridor, the station's transmitters for ITV and BBC1 were respectively reallocated in 1999 and 2000 to the south region.  The BBC have since provided a local Oxford news service as an opt-out from the BBC South service whilst ITV1, having previously provided various sub-regional services under the banner of 'Thames Valley', currently provide local news within their Meridian West service.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UHF Coverage Map

 


DIGITAL SWITCHOVER

For the purpose of Digital Switchover, the Oxford transmitter was scheduled as part of the Midlands region with Stage 1 (DSO1) taking place on 14 September 2011 followed by Stage 2 (DSO2) on 28 September 2011.  The succesful implementation of Stage 2 at Oxford and its dependent relays marked the completion of Digital Switchover within the Midlands group of transmitters.  This is significant in that the primary UHF main station within the region is normally last to complete the switchover, but in this instance the primary station at Sutton Coldfield completed one week earlier on 21 September 2011.

Principal re-engineering for the switchover commenced at Oxford in 2009, the first visible development being the installation of a twelve-tier reserve aerial which was completed around December 2009.  This installation is however notable for its relatively low position, made necessary by the aperture of the large FM Band II array above it.

Pending replacement of the main aerial, UHF transmissions from Oxford moved to the reserve aerial in February 2010.  This move was almost immediately followed by widely-publicised reports of poor reception across various parts of the service area, these seemingly attributed to the low position of the reserve aerial.

THE NEW AERIAL AND THE FIRE   

Installation of the new aerial at the top of the mast took place in a helicopter-assisted operation on 23 February 2010 and over the following two months the subsequent provisioning work took place.

However, as initial testing was taking place in the early afternoon of 13 May 2010, feeder cables near the base of the new aerial caught fire leading to a shutdown of all analogue UHF services (except Ch5 which broadcast from separate aerials lower down) as well as all digital UHF services.  FM radio services, broadcasting from the Band II aerials just below the fire area, were able to continue but at reduced power.  

With smoke drifting from the top of the mast the incident was attended by the fire services, but with power to the cables having been immediately cut, the fire gradually burnt itself out.  The affected UHF services were restored at approximately 9.30pm after they were transferred back to the reserve aerial.

The possibility of the mast being rendered structurally unstable by this incident had to be considered initially but once it was deemed safe to do so an examination of the fire damage took place.  This concluded that the new aerial was damaged beyond repair and required full replacement.

Arqiva subsequently announced that a replacement aerial had been ordered with delivery and installation anticipated for September 2010, with transmissions to continue in the meantime from the reserve aerial.

Removal of the fire-damaged aerial, again with the assistance of a helicopter, took place in late-June 2010 and since then a weather-protective covering has been placed at the top of the mast.  See Aerials (2) for images of the ill-fated new aerial and the mast post-removal of this.

In the event, installation of the replacement aerial took place earlier than anticipated on 4 August 2010.  Images of this event can be found here at mb21.


 

 

 

 

 

Aerials (1)

 Aerials (2) DSO (Updated Mar 2012) 

Transmission Site Images

 


EARLY STATION HISTORY

The Oxford station was established from 29 February 1962 initially as a low-power relay transmitter for the BBC 405-line VHF television network, boosting reception to an area on the outer fringe of coverage from both Crystal Palace and Sutton Coldfield.

Transmissions were on VHF Channel 2 at a maximum Effective Radiated Power (e.r.p) of 650 watts.

Despite this low power value, a 506-ft (154.4 metre) stayed mast was provided from the outset, probably in anticipation of future high power UHF transmission.

From 17 February 1968, the site was upgraded to UHF main station status with the commencement of BBC2 transmissions on Channel 63.  Transmitters for BBC1 and ITV followed in June 1970.


Aerials>  Aerials DSO>  Transmission Site>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map


  All these images added March 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  All these images added March 2012 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 June 2010

 

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Aerials>  Aerials DSO>  Transmission Site>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map



 SITE INFORMATION


Location:

New Inn Road, Beckley, Oxford, OX3 9ST

Grid Reference:

SP567105

Landlord:

Arqiva (Legacy: BBC/Crown Castle/NGW)

Ground Height:

129.5m

BBC1 Region:

South (Oxford opt-out)

Mast Height ("):

154.4m

ITV1 Region:

Meridian West

Aerial Height (*) :

289m

 

UHF Tx Number:

11700

(") Main structure height only - height including UHF antenna is 165.7m

(*) Average UHF aerial height above sea level (a.o.d)  

 

 


  CURRENT TRANSMISSIONS

Digital Television

 

Analogue Radio (FM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service

: Ch/Polarisation/e.r.p

 

 

 Service:

(MHz)

(e.r.p)

PSB1

: 53 / H / 100kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 1:

99.1

46kW

PSB2

: 60 / H / 100kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 2:

89.5

46kW

PSB3

: 57 / H / 100kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 3:

91.7

46kW

COM4

: 50 / H / 50kW

 

 

BBC Radio 4:

93.9

46kW

COM5

: 59 / H / 50kW

BBC Radio Oxford:

95.2

5.8kW

COM6

: 55 / H / 50kW

Classic FM:

101.3

46kW

 

 

Heart FM:

102.6

9kW

 

 

Digital Radio

Analogue Radio (MW)

 

 

 

 

 

BBC National (Block 12B)

Service:

(kHz)

(e.r.p)

Digital One (Block 11D)

Absolute Radio:

1197

.25kW

 

 

 

 

 

PRE-DIGITAL SWITCHOVER UHF TRANSMISSIONS

(Shutdown completed 28 September 2011)

Analogue Television 

 

 

 

Digital Television

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service

  Ch/Polar/e.r.p

 

 

 

 

Service

 Ch/Polar/e.r.p

BBC1

: 57 / H / 500kW

 

 

 

 

Mux1

: 34 / H / 10kW

BBC2

: 63 / H / 500kW  

 

 

 

 

Mux2

: 68 / H / 10kW

ITV1

: 60 / H / 500kW 

 

 

 

 

MuxA

: 51 / H / 06kW

Ch4

: 53 / H / 500kW

 

 

 

 

MuxB

: 52 / H / 06kW

Ch5

: 49 / H / 40kW

 

MuxC

: 48 / H / 08kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MuxD

: 29 / H / 08kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lichfield  Ridge Hill  Sutton Coldfield  The Wrekin  Waltham  (Midland region transmitters)

 

Rowridge  Hannington  Midhurst  (South region transmitters)

 

Oxford Transmitter @ A.T.V (Aerials and Television)

 

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