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ridge hill

 

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THE RIDGE HILL TRANSMITTER is the UHF main station that serves the south-west Midland counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

In addition to television coverage, it provides a significant number of local and national radio services on both FM and DAB.

It is one of the five main UHF transmitter sites associated with the Midlands region, the other four stations being Sutton Coldfield, The Wrekin (Shropshire), Oxford and Waltham (Leicestershire), with the former two providing the same West Midlands regional news service as Ridge Hill.

TRANSMISSION STRUCTURE

The mast at Ridge Hill is a 152-metre (500-ft) triangular cross-section lattice structure, supported by twelve stay-lines which attach in pairs to six ground anchoring blocks.  The total height including the surmounting main UHF antenna is 164.6 metres (540-ft).


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SECONDARY ITV1 REGIONAL SERVICE

In 1989, as part of the expansion of ITV sub-regions, Ridge Hill became the main transmitter base for the 'Central South' sub-regional news service.  However, when this opt-out was absorbed from 4 December 2006 with the launch of the Thames Valley sub-region, the main service from Ridge Hill reverted to West Midlands (ITV1 Central West) whilst a secondary service carrying ITV1 West was added as a means of compensation for viewers around Gloucestershire, a process which linked up the area with those served by the main ITV1 West transmitter at Mendip.

This additional service from Ridge Hill initially transmitted on analogue-only using Channel 30 from separate antennas on the mast and at a lower power than the main West Midlands service.  A digital version of this service had to wait until Digital Switchover, since when it has been provided from an additional PSB2 Multiplex on Channel 29 and ultimately operating at the same power as the main service. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UHF AERIAL GROUPING

The UHF analogue channels as originally assigned placed Ridge Hill within Aerial Group A.  However, with the advent of the initial pre-switchover digital multiplexes, insufficient spectrum required the allocation of channels within the B and C/D aerial groupings for these services, consequently forcing Ridge Hill into Group W bandwidth for viewers wishing to receive both analogue and digital channels.

However, Digital Switchover allowed for all services to be allocated within the original Group A bandwidth, eliminating the need for wideband receiving aerials.  See CURRENT and PRE-DIGITAL SWITCHOVER UHF TRANSMISSIONS table below.


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DIGITAL SWITCHOVER (DSO)

Principal re-engineering for Digital Switchover at Ridge Hill has resulted in the replacement of the GRP-cylinder-contained main UHF aerial with a new eight-tier four-sided multi-panel installation.

As PSB reserve provision, an eight-tier circular installation has been deployed above the existing four-tier circular pre-DSO digital aerial, bringing the total to twelve tiers.

The two-stage switchover process at Ridge Hill took place on the same dates as The Wrekin and was implemented as follows -

Stage 1 (DSO1) - 6 April 2011

BBC Two analogue on Channel 28 ceased broadcasting permanently and PSB1 multiplex (BBCA) launched on Channel 28

Stage 2 (DSO2) - 20 April 2011

All other analogue services ceased broadcasting permanently and the remaining PSB/COM multiplexes launched.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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STATION HISTORY

Ridge Hill was originally developed by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) to provide the south-west Midlands with both improved 405-line VHF Band III coverage and a site for future high-power UHF transmission.

In doing so, the authority continued a pattern established since 1965 with the stations at Angus, Belmont, Huntshaw Cross and Sandy Heath which were also conceived and constructed from the outset to ultimately fulfil the same two objectives.

As far as the initial goal of improved VHF coverage was concerned, this was to mainly overcome the long-standing difficulty of carrying reliable signals to the area from the main VHF Band III transmitter at Lichfield beyond such major natural obstacles as the Malvern Hills. This was an issue the ITA had hoped to resolve but in fact had only mitigated with the completion of the taller mast and higher-powered aerial at Lichfield in July 1961.

As for UHF, the need for a high-power station was essentially a magnification of the VHF solution reflective of the even greater technical difficulties associated with carrying UHF signals to the area from a remote main station near Birmingham.

In accordance with the similarly-planned transmitter sites, the ITA designated a mast appropriate to the UHF requirements, the height of which would equally benefit VHF transmissions.  With a site height of 670-ft (204 metres) above sea level, a 500-ft (152 metre) mast was considered sufficient to provide the desired aerial elevation.

For the initial VHF service, two vision transmitters both rated at 100 watts and two sound transmitters each rated 25 watts were provided.  From the aerial mounted at around 450-ft (135 metres) above ground level, an Effective Radiated Power (e.r.p) of 10kW/2.5kW (vision/sound respectively) was achieved, providing sufficient power to re-broadcast the source signal from the parent station at Lichfield.

Ridge Hill commenced regular programme service on VHF Channel 6 as a relay of the Lichfield transmitter on 30 July 1968 and delivered significantly improved reception to Herefordshire, parts of Worcestershire and the main area population centres around Cheltenham and Gloucester.

The addition of high-power UHF transmission came four years later with the start of BBC2 transmissions in late 1972, with both BBC1 and ITV in service from 26 February 1973.  This marked the completion of the fourth UHF main station in the Midlands, the fifth and final station at The Wrekin following in 1975.


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STATION INFORMATION


Location:

Firs Farm, Much Marcle, Herefordshire

Grid Reference:

SO630333

Landlord:

Arqiva (Legacy: ITA/IBA/NTL Broadcast)

Ground Height:

204m

BBC1 Region:

West Midlands

Mast Height ("):

152m

ITV1 Region:

Central West/West

Aerial Height (*):

363m

 

UHF Tx Number:

14900

(") Main structure height only - height including UHF antenna is 164.6m

 

(*) 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

: 28 / H / 20kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 1:

98.2

10kW

PSB2

: 25 / H / 20kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 2:

88.6

10kW

PSB2

: 29 / H / 20kW (ITV1 West)

 

BBC Radio 3:

90.8

10kW

PSB3

: 22 / H / 20kW

 

 

BBC Radio 4:

93.0

10kW

COM4

: 21 / H / 10kW 

 

 BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester:

94.7

2kW

COM5

: 24 / H / 10kW

Classic FM (HP):

100.4

0.9kW

COM6

: 27 / H / 10kW

 

 

Classic FM (VP):

100.4

3.9kW

 

Sunshine FM:

106.2

1.6kW

Digital Radio

Wyvern FM:

97.6

0.8kW

  

 

 

 

BBC National (Block 12B) 

 

 

Digital One (Block 11D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRE-DIGITAL SWITCHOVER UHF TRANSMISSIONS

(Shutdown completed 20 April 2011)

Analogue Television 

 

 

 

Digital Television

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service

  Ch/Polar/e.r.p

 

 

 

 

Service

 Ch/Polar/e.r.p

BBC1

: 22 / H / 100kW

 

 

 

 

Mux1

: 53 / H / 2.0kW

BBC2

: 28 / H / 100kW  

 

 

 

 

Mux2

: 57 / H / 2.0kW

ITV1

: 25 / H / 100kW 

 

 

 

 

MuxA

: 60 / H / 2.0kW

ITV1

: 30 / H / 25kW (ITV1 West)

 

 

 

MuxB

: 63 / H / 2.0kW

Ch4

: 32 / H / 100kW

 

 

 

 

MuxC

: 42 / H / 2.0kW

Ch5

: 35 / H / 100kW   

 

MuxD

: 45 / H / 2.0kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lichfield  Oxford  Sutton Coldfield  The Wrekin  Waltham

 

Ridge Hill Transmitter @ A.T.V (Aerials and Television)

 

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