thebigtower


sutton coldfield

 

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THE SUTTON COLDFIELD TRANSMITTER is the UHF and BBC National FM main station that serves the majority of the West Midlands.  It is also the site of the longest serving television transmission facility in the United Kingdom.

Sited ten miles north of Birmingham, it provides coverage to approximately seven million people, a figure exceeded only by the Crystal Palace transmitter in London.  Prior to Digital Switchover in September 2011, it was one of the elite group of transmitters that broadcast analogue UHF at 1000 kilowatts (ERP), the other stations being Crystal Palace and Sandy Heath, as well as the Channel 5 transmitters at Croydon and Lichfield.

The Lichfield station, originally the equivalent ITV 405-line transmitter for the Midlands, is sited three miles north-east of the Sutton Coldfield site.

EARLY HISTORY

Sutton Coldfield commenced operation in 1949 as the BBC Band I 405-line transmitter serving an approximate 50-mile radius of the Midlands.  It was the first of four high-power stations built to extend BBC Television coverage beyond the initial London-only service area of the Alexandra Palace transmitter to the most populated provincial areas of the UK.  Being the first of the four high-power stations, it provided the template for the design of the three subsequent transmitters at Holme Moss, Kirk o'Shotts and Wenvoe.

(See Sutton Coldfield TimeLine for further historical information.


 

 

 

 

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TRANSMISSION STRUCTURE

The Sutton Coldfield mast is a triangular cross-section lattice stayed structure which originally stood at 225 metres (738-ft), extending to an overall height of 245 metres (804-ft) with the inclusion of the GRP-cylinder-contained UHF aerial system mounted at the top.  (See DIGITAL SWITCHOVER below)

Although the site has existed since 1949, the current mast was constructed in 1983 to replace the original 1949-built mast as the latter was unable to support the new VHF Band II aerial system required for the upgrade to mixed-polarised FM transmission. For the same reason mast replacements took place at Holme Moss and Wenvoe between 1984 and 1986.  

It is due to the mast replacement that Sutton Coldfield holds solely the acolade for longest serving television transmission site, the longest serving mast in this respect being that currently located at Divis.


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DIGITAL SWITCHOVER (DSO)

Sutton Coldfield is one of seven main UHF transmitter sites to have undergone major re-engineering in order to provide a higher elevation for the post-Digital Switchover transmission aerial system.  Five of the other stations (Black Hill, Caldbeck, Divis, Rowridge and Tacolneston) still have masts dating from between 1955 and 1961 and for this reason are undergoing full replacement of their structures, whereas the relatively recent mast at Sutton Coldfield was deemed to be of sufficient strength to undergo an extension in height to support the new aerial system.

To enable this work to take place, a temporary 240 metre (787-ft) mast was erected in 2009 to carry UHF transmissions whilst the main mast is upgraded.  This involved the removal of the current GRP-cylinder-contained analogue system to make way for an extension from the 225 metre level to a new overall height of 270 metres (886-ft).  A similar project to extend the near-identical structure at Wenvoe (Cardiff) was completed in Summer 2009.  

Sutton Coldfield completed Digital Switchover on 21 September 2011 and now operates at the new national maximum Effective Radiated Power (e.r.p) of 200 kilowatts, a capability matched only by Crystal Palace and Rowridge.


 Above: The main station building.

 

Above: The BBC Crest (dated 1950) positioned above the main station building doorway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Main Mast Aerials>  Temp Mast Aerials  Supersize Images>  Enlarged Landscapes>  UHF Coverage Maps>  TimeLine


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UHF Coverage Maps


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 STATION INFORMATION


Location:

Off Hill Village Road, Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield

Grid Reference:

SK113003

Landlord:

Arqiva (Legacy: BBC/Crown Castle/NGW)

Ground Height:

167.7m

ITV Region:

Midlands

Mast Height:

245m

BBC Region:

West Midlands

Aerial Height: (*)

403m

 

UHF Tx Number:

10200

(*) 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

: 43 / H / 200kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 1:

97.9

250kW

PSB2

: 46 / H / 200kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 2:

88.3

250kW

PSB3

: 40 / H / 200kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 3:

90.5

250kW

COM4

: 42 / H / 200kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 4:

92.7

250kW

COM5

: 45 / H / 200kW

BBC West Midlands:

95.6

11kW

COM6

: 39 / H / 200kW

 

 

Classic FM:

100.1

250kW

 

 

 

 

 

Free Radio:

96.4

10kW

Digital Radio 

 

 

 

Heart FM West Midlands:

100.7

11kW

 

 

 

 

 

Kerrang:

105.2

11kW

BBC National (Block 12B)

 

 

Smooth West Midlands:

105.7

11kW

Digital One (Block 11D)

 

 

 

 

 

West Midlands (Block 12A)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRE-DIGITAL SWITCHOVER UHF TRANSMISSIONS

(Shutdown completed 21 September 2011)

Analogue Television 

 

 

 

Digital Television

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service

  Ch/Polar/e.r.p

 

 

 

 

Service

 Ch/Polar/e.r.p

BBC1

: 46 / H / 1000kW

 

 

 

 

Mux1

: 41 / H / 8kW

BBC2

: 40 / H / 1000kW  

 

 

 

 

Mux2

: 44 / H / 8kW

ITV1

: 43 / H / 1000kW 

 

 

 

 

MuxA

: 47 / H / 8kW

Ch4

: 50 / H / 1000kW

 

 

 

 

MuxB

: 51 / H / 8kW

Ch5

: No Service - transmitted from Lichfield

 

MuxC

: 52 / H / 8kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MuxD

: 55 / H / 8kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lichfield  Oxford  Ridge Hill  The Wrekin  Waltham

 

Sutton Coldfield Transmitter @ A.T.V (Aerials and Television)

 

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