thebigtower


winter hill

 


THE WINTER HILL TRANSMITTER is the UHF main station that serves the north-west of England.  Located five miles north-west of Bolton, it is the only main UHF transmitter in the region and broadcasts from what is currently the fourth tallest television transmission mast in the UK.

PRINCIPAL UHF SERVICE AREA

Winter Hill serves 6.3 million people across a 40-mile radius encompassing Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and The Wirral. Key to the service area are Greater Manchester and Liverpool, beyond which the transmitter also serves Blackpool, Bolton, Chester, Preston, Southport and Warrington.

Coverage is extended to parts of North-West Derbyshire and Southern Cumbria by the station's dependent relays which are principally sited across two areas of high ground, The Pennines towards the east and the Cumbrian Hills towards the north-west. (See UHF Coverage Maps)

 

SUPPLEMENTARY UHF SERVICE AREA (OVERLAP)

Low ground towards the south-west enables transmissions from Winter Hill to extend beyond the Liverpool Bay area into North-East Wales, creating a reciprocal overlap with the Moel-y-Parc transmitter in Flintshire.

 

CHANNEL FIVE (ANALOGUE)

Prior to Digital Switchover in December 2009, the lack of suitable frequencies meant that only a minimal low-power Channel 5 service was provided from Winter Hill, reaching only some central parts of the service area.  

 

BBC NATIONAL RADIO (FM)

Winter Hill carries these services as a relay of the Holme Moss transmitter.


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TRANSMISSION STRUCTURE

Winter Hill is one of the five main UHF transmitting stations in the United Kingdom (and one of two of ITA origin) that transmit from a cylindrical steel tube mast. 

Constructed over an 18-month period commencing Spring 1964, it was built by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) to replace the 135 metre (445-ft) tower that been used since the station opening in 1956. (See Station History below)

Whilst the three BBC-built steel tube masts at Bilsdale, Mendip and Waltham are based entirely on a cylindrical main structure with surmounting UHF aerial, Winter Hill combines a 198 metre (650-ft) lower cylindrical section with an upper 111 metre (365-ft) lattice section (the latter supporting the UHF aerial system) to achieve the total height of 309 metres (1015-ft).

The mast has five platforms, three on the cylindrical section and a further two respectively placed above and below the top segment of the lattice aerial section.  It is held in place by fifteen stay lines (which attach to the structure at the same levels as the platforms) and these descend to ground to a total of nine anchoring blocks.

The structure is essentially a shorter version of the ITA-built 385 metre (1265-ft) mast at Belmont and the identical structure which collapsed at Emley Moor in March 1969, both of which utilised a 274 metre (900-ft) lower cylindrical section to achieve their greater overall height.

The 111 metre lattice section at Winter Hill is split into two equal tiers and supports what is both the tallest UHF aerial array in the UK and also the highest elevated at a peak height of 771 metres (2530-ft) above sea level.

 

DIGITAL SWITCHOVER

The two stages of the Digital Switchover process were successfully completed at Winter Hill as follows -

Stage 1 (DSO1) - 4 November 2009
BBC Two analogue (Channel 62) ceased broadcasting permanently and the first BBC multiplex (Mux BBC A) launched.

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

DIGITAL SWITCHOVER MAST ENGINEERING WORK

The refurbishment of the Winter Hill mast UHF aerial system in preparation for Digital Switchover took place over an approximate 18-month period from late summer 2007.

This entailed the replacement of the main UHF aerial arrays mounted around the upper tier of the lattice section and also the removal of the digital 4-tier multi-panel aerial mounted above the main structure, the latter rendered obselete by the new main aerial system.  (See Aerials and DSO Index for images).

 


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STATION HISTORY

Winter Hill was built by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) as the first of two stations required to provide ITV coverage on the original 405-line VHF Band III system to Northern England.

Whilst the BBC were able to cover the region from their single VHF Band I television transmitter at Holme Moss, separate ITA stations positioned to the west and east of the Pennines were deemed necessary due to the technical limitations of VHF Band III transmission when traversing the region's mix of centrally-placed peaks and outlying plains.

Transmitting on VHF Channel 9, Winter Hill came into regular programme service on 3 May 1956.  The station was equipped with transmitters rated at 10 kilowatts/2.5 kilowatts (vision/sound respectively) with the output fed to aerials mounted on 135 metre (445-ft) self supporting lattice tower, delivering an Effective Radiated Power (ERP) of 100 kilowatts/25 kilowatts (vision/sound respectively).

The opening of the station extended ITV coverage to the whole of Lancashire and Merseyside (encompassing the cities of Manchester and Liverpool) as well as Cheshire and parts of Derbyshire and North Wales.

On 3 November 1956, the second of the two 'northern' stations at Emley Moor came into service and successfully extended ITV coverage across the region to include Yorkshire and most of Lincolnshire.

In 1965, the original 135 metre (445-ft) tower at Winter Hill ceased operation upon transfer of broadcast services to the new 309 metre (1015-ft) cylindrical mast.  Having been designated a UHF main station, this was conditional (as it was at Emley Moor) on the provision of a taller structure to carry transmissions over and beyond intervening hills that would otherwise be an obstacle to UHF signals, due to their increased line-of-sight tendency and consequent reluctance to negotiate hilly terrain.

The first regular UHF transmissions from the new mast were BBC2 from 31 October 1965.  Transmission of BBC1 and ITV in UHF commenced 15 November 1969 under the first phase of the national roll-out of these services in UHF-colour.

The increased aerial height provided by the new mast also delivered an improvement to the ITV service on VHF Channel 9 that continued until the closure of the 405-line service in January 1985.


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An information plate has now been added to the wall of one of the roadside transmitter buildings, for the benefit of the numerous ramblers who pass the site.  Note that the mast height stated on this plate is from base to the top of the digital UHF panels that were mounted above the main structure, but have since been removed as part of the re-engineering for Digital Switchover.

Click here or image to view

 

 


 STATION SUMMARY


Location:

Rivington Moor, nr Horwich, Bolton, BL6 6SL

Grid Reference:

SD660144

Landlord:

Arqiva (Legacy: ITA/IBA/NTL)

Ground Height:

462m

BBC Region:

North West

Mast Height:

309m

ITV1 Region:

Granada

Aerial Height: (*)

718m

 

UHF Tx Number:

10300

(*) 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

: 62 / H / 100kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 1:

98.2

4.0kW

PSB2

: 59 / H / 100kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 2:

88.6

4.0kW

PSB3

: 54 / H / 100kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 3:

90.8

4.0kW

COM4

: 58 / H / 100kW 

 

 

BBC Radio 4:

93.0

4.0kW

COM5

: 61 / H / 100kW

BBC Radio Lancashire:

103.9

2.0kW

COM6

: 55 / H  /100kW

 

 

Real Radio North West:

105.4

5.0kW

Local

: 57 / H / 1kW

 

 

Smooth Radio North-West:

100.4

5.0kW

 

 

Rock FM:

97.4

2.0kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Radio (National)

 

 

Digital Radio (Regional)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC National (Block 12B)

 

 

Lancashire (Block 12A)

Digital One (Block 11D)

 

 

Manchester (Block 11C)

 

 

 

North-West (Block 2C)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRE-DIGITAL SWITCHOVER UHF TRANSMISSIONS

(Shutdown completed 2 December 2009)

Analogue Television 

 

 

 

Digital Television

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service

  Ch/Polar/e.r.p

 

 

 

 

Service

 Ch/Polar/e.r.p

BBC1

: 55 / H / 500kW

 

 

 

 

Mux1

: 56 / H / 10kW

BBC2

: 62 / H / 500kW  

 

 

 

 

Mux2

: 66 / H / 10kW

ITV1

: 59 / H / 500kW 

 

 

 

 

MuxA

: 68 / H / 10kW

Ch4

: 65 / H / 500kW

 

 

 

 

MuxB

: 67 / H / 10kW

Ch5

: 48 / H / 12.5kW

 

 

 

 

MuxC (A)

: 60 / H / 10kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MuxD (A)

: 63 / H / 10kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MuxC (B)

 : 43 / H / 10kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MuxD (B)

 : 40 / H / 10kW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Other Cylindrical Masts

 

 

 

 

 

Belmont

Bilsdale

Mendip

Waltham

(Lincolnshire)

(North Yorkshire)

(Somerset)

(Leicestershire)

 

 

 

 


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

 

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