Hessary Home>  Site and Stay Images Index>  FM Band II Aerials>  Supersize Images>  BBC Crest>  Historical Feature


The following photographs and information have been very kindly provided by Steve Crook.

Steve's father, Peter, worked for many years at North Hessary Tor until his retirement from the BBC.  His career at the station began in 1955, soon after the start of BBC 405-line television transmissions from provisional facilities and during the on-going construction of the permanent mast and station building.

During his career at the station, Peter was part of the engineering team that oversaw such developments as the start of BBC National FM radio in 1956 and the opening of the BBC south-west region transmitter monitoring centre in the late 1970s.

As well as rising to the various engineering challenges, Peter and his colleagues also confronted those resulting from being based at one of the highest elevated and weather-prone transmitting stations in the country.

  Commenting on the infamous winter of 1963, Steve says ' It was a bad winter and the station was completely cut-off by the weather.  My father and another engineer called Peter Walker walked from Tavistock to take up food and relieve the two engineers who were stuck there.  At the time, this was a newsworthy event and went out on national television'.

(It is worth noting that the journey from Tavistock to North Hessary Tor is at least five miles, mostly uphill and challenging even in the best weather conditions).

From those early days, Peter managed to capture and archive some images of the original temporary station, the ongoing construction of the permanent station and also the station control room.  Reproduced here, these images are followed by an article written by Peter for inclusion on the menu at the station's 21st anniversary dinner.




These first two images show the temporary buildings and mast, on which facilities the service was launched in December 1954.

Preparations for the permanent station are also evident, particularly in the first photograph.






 The next image shows the foundations for the permanent station and mast.



 The next image features Peter Crook, Steve's father, nearest the mast base alongside a colleague.



Next: The on-going construction of the permanent station building viewed from the east.

  The most complete area at this point (left below the mast with three window frames) would eventually house the BBC radio transmitters, whilst the remaining area within view would house the 405-line television transmitters and control room.



 Next: The on-going construction from the west side.



Next: Two views from the south focusing on the base of the permanent mast as construction of the building continues around it.




























Next: The opening of the permanent station is marked by the attendance of local dignitaries, here being shown around the control room.



 Next: Another view of the control room.  This is the area of the station that was redeveloped in the late 1970s when North Hessary Tor became the monitoring centre for all BBC transmitters in the south-west region.





Television transmissions from North Hessary Tor began in the bleak weather of December 1954, from a temporary installation on the present site, 1,670 feet above sea level. The main transmitter was the one which had been used for the BBC’s first television outside broadcast during the 1936 Coronation. It had also spent some years as the reserve transmitter at Sutton Coldfield.

The original staff were:


C.R. Jephcott           P.T. Spencer


J.S. Clemo               B. Jakes


E.S. Locke    R.K. Davies    J.R. Woodruff


Many engineers have passed through the station in the intervening years and the responsibilities of the staff have been extended to include many other transmitters in Devon and Cornwall.

The original transmitting station consisted of three caravans connected together by corrugated-iron passage ways.  The Engineer-in Charge had an office to himself (one caravan) and as this also housed the only Elsan Closet there were times when he could have wished for more privacy!

Access to the station was over a track of railway sleepers which skirted the 11kV feeder supply from Princetown; a cable laid over the open moor.

Three hundred feet lower than the site and about half a mile away, on the Princetown/Yelverton railway, “The Flyer” chugged its winding way past Ingra Tor and round King Tor and Foggin Tor four times a day regardless of weather conditions and on several occasions dropped the shift within striking distance of North Hessary Tor in deep snow and blizzards.  Unfortunately, the railway was closed down in 1956.

In 1956, the 120-ft mast gave way to a 700-ft stayed structure carrying transmitting aerials for BBC-1 on 405-lines and for Radios 2, 3 and 4 on VHF.  In recent years, programme links from London and Plymouth via Caradon Hill feed BBC-l and 2 on to Exeter and Torbay areas and monitoring aerials for most of the main transmissions in Devon and Cornwall have been added.

The rough track has been replaced by a tarmac road and the wind-swept caravans have been replaced by a modern granite-faced, double-glazed building housing the present staff, who are:

J.J. Newbery     J.C. Codling     P.T. Spencer         


P. Walker    B.C. Pittam     R.W. Ridler       


P.R. Crook     E.S. Locke     A.G. McPherson       


A.I. Waugh     M.G. Bendall     P.R Widger    R. Massey       


Mrs. J.S. Goode     D.C. Richards     K. Worth     A.J.J. Williams      



Hessary Home>  Site and Stay Images Index>  FM Band II Aerials>  Supersize Images>  BBC Crest>  Historical Feature