Belmont and the Beeb

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Paul Hayes
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Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Paul Hayes »

Hello all.

As some of you may know, I work as a producer at BBC Radio Norfolk, where every now and again we'll get a comment from a listener reminding us not to talk about or trail ahead to BBC East regional television programmes as if everyone in the county can see them, because in the north-west part of Norfolk, they generally can't. Just as Anglia lost that part of the county to Yorkshire, so viewers in King's Lynn, Hunstanton and so forth generally get Look North from Hull, rather than Look East from Norwich.

My question is... why? I know roughly the reasons why the IBA re-allocated Belmont to Yorkshire from Anglia in 1974, but was there any particular reason why the BBC had to follow suit...? And did they change at the same time, or did BBC East used to be accessible to those on the Wash coast for longer?

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by fatcat »

Wasn't it just do to the fact that Yorkshire TV had arrived and was now wetting the lampposts ..so to speak?
Before this time viewers in Yorkshire were dominated by Norwich in the south and the satellites of Birmingham .
The style of Agricultural Television (Anglia TV) probably had little in common with proud Yorkshire men (who have to put 'Yorkshire' on anything they do or make)
Presumably the BBC had to follow suit otherwise viewers would have had to have two aerials ? BBC East was also quite primitive at the time, in fact of a bit of an embarrassment, still transmitting in B/W with rolling picture cuts to the network and saving costs by not making positives (or using reversal film) of their news films and transmitting direct from negative, hence any dirt accumulated by an editor in a hurry looked like a snow storm.

However what Anglia lost in the north it gained the West. The UHF transmitter at Crystal Palace was found to be no match for the fiery VHF transmitter at Croydon which gave a massive spread out of London of AR programmes..so when viewers in Essex/Herts/Beds etc were converting to colour, many in hill type situations etc were swinging their aerial to Sandy Heath etc just to get a decent picture. Anglia exploited this by making their new guests feel at home by including the once fringe towns in their news items etc, so when the transmission repeater stacks came they were quite happy to remain with Anglia.

..something like that anyway

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stearn
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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by stearn »

Looking at coverage maps in the BBC Yearbooks, that area was on the fringes of the transmitters. For 405 line it was certainly covered by Midland region, but 625 line from Belmont may have managed to reach that part of the coast from inception (with a tail wind and no tall ships) and certainly did by the start of the 70s when the transmitter power was increased from 20kW to 500kW. The regions were always dictated by the terrain and the transmitters reaches more than county borders.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Paul Hayes »

fatcat wrote:Presumably the BBC had to follow suit otherwise viewers would have had to have two aerials ?
Ah yes, that's a very good point - I hadn't thought of that! Thank you!

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by fatcat »

Paul Hayes wrote:
fatcat wrote:Presumably the BBC had to follow suit otherwise viewers would have had to have two aerials ?
Ah yes, that's a very good point - I hadn't thought of that! Thank you!
Thinking about it in the cold light of day, not the viewers that may have needed two aerials but the authorities would have done at least. If say you received your service from Belmont, and wanted BBC East and Yorkshire TV that mast would have needed to have two signal pick ups, one for example pointing at Emily Moor and the other say pointing at Talconeston, doubling up on cables down the mast and associated control gear must have been an expensive option, not to mention gas guzzling analogue signals and any stability problems that might have been caused by the extra weight (apparently Belmont is the same type as the Emily Moor one that fell down)

anyway thanks for reading as I got a bit carried away previously LOL

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by JezR »

Paul Hayes wrote: My question is... why? I know roughly the reasons why the IBA re-allocated Belmont to Yorkshire from Anglia in 1974, but was there any particular reason why the BBC had to follow suit...? And did they change at the same time, or did BBC East used to be accessible to those on the Wash coast for longer?
In the latter VHF days BBC from Belmont on Channel 13 carried the 'North' region from Leeds. Other transmitters Holme Moss, Scarborough, Sheffield, Wensleydale and Skegness.

East Anglia was Tacolneston, Peterborough, Bedford, Cambridge, Manningtree, and Aldeburgh.

So the 'shape' of the regions compared with ITV were somewhat different and Belmont in particular was 'North' rather than 'East'

Nigel Stapley
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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Nigel Stapley »

Ah! Dear, sweet Emily Moor! How's she getting on these days? ;-)

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Paul Hayes »

JezR wrote:
Paul Hayes wrote: My question is... why? I know roughly the reasons why the IBA re-allocated Belmont to Yorkshire from Anglia in 1974, but was there any particular reason why the BBC had to follow suit...? And did they change at the same time, or did BBC East used to be accessible to those on the Wash coast for longer?
In the latter VHF days BBC from Belmont on Channel 13 carried the 'North' region from Leeds. Other transmitters Holme Moss, Scarborough, Sheffield, Wensleydale and Skegness.

East Anglia was Tacolneston, Peterborough, Bedford, Cambridge, Manningtree, and Aldeburgh.

So the 'shape' of the regions compared with ITV were somewhat different and Belmont in particular was 'North' rather than 'East'
Interesting - so unlike the situation with Anglia, north-west Norfolk viewers would probably never have had BBC East at all?

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by TonyCurrie »

Before Belmont opened, there was a relay at Skegness which was fed from Holme Moss and so was part of the BBC's North region. When Belmont came online, it got the same Leeds feed and Skegness was reattributed to Belmont before being closed early because it wasn't really needed any more. In 405 days, BBC East Anglia didn't really get as far north although I imagine some viewers in Lincolnshire used Peterborough and some would receive Tacolneston, but in both cases with instances of CCI and rather indifferent results.

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by JezR »

Interestingly, the original expectation by the BBC was to serve East Anglia with a transmitter in Band III. When the formation of Independent Television made this impossible as they had the assigned frequencies there was no pre-allocated Band I frequency and they needed first to clear a channel with countries on the continent. Only channels 3 and 5 were potentially available due to adjacent BBC transmitters. Channel 3 (H) was picked as causing the least interference with nearby continental transmitters and more distant BBC ones. Power needed to be restricted towards Belgium for the Liège transmitter, and Rowridge.

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by JezR »

Paul Hayes wrote:
Interesting - so unlike the situation with Anglia, north-west Norfolk viewers would probably never have had BBC East at all?
Looking at the 1959 BBC reception report of what was then called the 'Norwich' transmitter, The Wash was indicated as poorly served from it and Holme Moss from low signal strength and interference from elsewhere but it was known that Peterborough would 'wrap' round it later to provide an alternative if still not very strong signal.

The other main problem area was south east Suffolk.

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by TonyCurrie »

.....and when Manningtree was opened, it was already known that the lack of channels meant its service area would be very severely restricted by co-channel interference from both England and the Continent. Always a difficult area to serve on Band I.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Paul Hayes »

JezR wrote:Looking at the 1959 BBC reception report of what was then called the 'Norwich' transmitter, The Wash was indicated as poorly served from it and Holme Moss from low signal strength and interference from elsewhere but it was known that Peterborough would 'wrap' round it later to provide an alternative if still not very strong signal.
Thank you. So it looks as if the poor old Wash coast was forever cut off from the Norwich programming!

Not that, by all accounts, they were missing a great deal in those days.

I wonder what the situation was for receiving the eastern region VHF opts on the Home Service? I seem to have a recollection of reading somewhere that there was a medium wave relay transmitter for that part of the coast which actually took its feed from the opts, so carried the regional BBC East programmes and not the network feed at the times they were opted, but I may be mis-remembering.

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by TonyCurrie »

Paul Hayes wrote:
I wonder what the situation was for receiving the eastern region VHF opts on the Home Service? I seem to have a recollection of reading somewhere that there was a medium wave relay transmitter for that part of the coast which actually took its feed from the opts, so carried the regional BBC East programmes and not the network feed at the times they were opted, but I may be mis-remembering.
There were three MW transmitters - Droitwich (150kW) was the main Midland Home Service transmitter, and it shared 1,088 kHz with Postwick (7.5kW) in East Anglia (just east of Norwich), which of necessity had to carry an identical programme to avoid interference between the two stations and to minimise the 'mush zone' where both transmitters are received with equal signal strength and cancel each other out. The third station was at Cromer, on the coast north of Norwich. To avoid Cromer causing interference to both Postwick and Droitwich, it had to carry the North Home Service, sharing 692 kHz with Moorside Edge.

As far as I know - and I've studied the BBC's programmes, feeds and transmitters for the past fifty years - the Midland Home Service East Anglia opt outs were only carried by the VHF Home Service transmitters at Tacolneston and Peterborough.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Paul Hayes »

I've found my source. When I was researching the regional opts for my programme "Radio in a Roundabout Way" back in 2012, I read the unpublished history of the Today opt-out "Roundabout East Anglia", written by a chap called Iain Elsey. He doesn't specify a source for this information, but I know he did interview a number of people involved in making the show, and he writes...
A BBC transmission site in North East Norfolk relayed Radio 4 on AM/MW and this
relayed the “local” out-put, as the FM broadcasts. This was however never
acknowledged ‘on-air’.
I shall drop him an e-mail to ask what his source for this was!

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by David Ballard »

I have a vague recollection of reading something along those lines too, but can't remember where. A couple of possible sources are Edward Pawley's History of BBC Engineering or On Air - The History of BBC Transmission. I'll have a look over the weekend although the latter is available as a free download from http://www.bbceng.info/Books/On%20Air/On_Air.htm

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by stearn »

David, thanks for the link to the On Air - I hadn't spotted that before. Pawley covers 1922-1972, is a great book, but I gave it a quick skim last night and couldn't find anything that was useful to the thread.

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by TonyCurrie »

Can't say I recall ever seeing anything about this in Pawley.
The problem with the anecdote is that whichever transmitter it was, it would have been sharing the wavelength with another transmitter not that far away - if it was Cromer, it shared with Moorside Edge; if it was Postwick, it shared with Drotwich. These synchronised transmitters relied on sharing co-timed identical programme material, because otherwise the mush area between the two became very much bigger, wiping out reception altogether for a substantial number of people. I recall vividly such an occurrence one night when the Radio Scotland 810kHz network got out of step. All three transmitters - Burghead and Westerglen (high power) and Redmoss (low power) should have shared a common feed. But we always put football on medium wave and the line to Redmoss failed, so it switched to its Rebroadcast Standby feed taken from a VHF receiver tuned to Meldrum. Unfortunately that was carrying a political programme. You'd expect complaints from Aberdeen listeners that they were deprived of the football, but in fact although Redmoss was a low power station it screwed up reception over vast swathes of Scotland causing the football to be heard simultaneously with the politics in a set of ghastly phasing surges.
And that would have happened in east Anglia if this story is true....

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Paul Hayes »

Iain has now got back to me and admitted that his source was more anecdotal than he was letting on, so I'm sure you are probably quite correct, Tony!

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Focus II »

On discussing surviving VHF tv aerials on the Vintage radio.net forum someone discovered horizontally polarised aerials as far North of Bridlington. By the direction and polarisation they could only be used to receive the Anglia tv region despite the great distance.

http://vintage-radio.net/forum/showthre ... 90&page=10

In the '80s the IBA opened a couple of two channel relay transmitters for the sole purpose of allowing Anglia and BBC East
to be received in the south of the Belmont region. It was the only time they opened new transmitters for the sole purpose of allowing a choice of two different ITV regions.

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Re: Belmont and the Beeb

Post by Andy Marriott »

I remember being well pissed-off in 1974 when Belmont switched to Yorkshire. We lived, my parents still do, just south of Lincoln city. On the roof we had an "X" pointed to Sutton Coldfield and a 6 element band III pointed at Lichfield. So, Channel 4 for BBC1 and channel 8 for "midlands" as everyone called it. However we also got more than watchable signals of Yorkshire on Channel 10 and Anglia on channel 7 plus a bonus BBC1 North on channel 13. Then I put an 8 element band III in the loft and whenever the weather was even slightly warm we could watch Granada or (if I swung the aerial round 180 degrees) Thames on channel 9. But when Belmont went to YTV I could not get even the slightest hint of any other Anglia transmitter, and Anglia was my favourite channel! I moved to Leicester in 1984 and installed a BIG UHF aerial for Sandy Heath.

Finally on a summer Saturday morning in 1993 I got to say "Good morning and welcome to Anglia television..."
Annoyingly I kept examples of my continuity on most stations except Ang :(
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S6g6FH5Esg

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