Rhiw's first T.v.

by

John Lawrence

In 1951 I was a director and service manager of a radio and television retailer having shops in Rhyl and Holywell. The Holm Moss television station had just opened and as we were in the service area of the station we were very busy installing aerials and supplying television sets.

We were asked by a local customer (Mr Loasby) who was moving to live in Rhiw if we would install a TV aerial for him at his cottage. Rhiw was over 120 miles from Holme Moss and well out of the service area, so we declined as we felt that the received picture, if any, would be very poor and as it was a cottage the aerial could not be very high. However, he was insistent we should try and offered to provide a 60 foot mast on which we could install the aerial and he agreed to pay all expenses whether or not it was successful.

Very early one Sunday morning in the summer of 1952 I set off with his Philips 1800A TV (pictured left) set in the van and, strapped to the roof rack, a huge top-of-the range eight-element aerial and aluminium pole.

I arrived on site to find that he had made some private arrangement with several local GPO linesmen who were standing by with ropes and tackle. A wooden 60 foot ship’s mast was already there. So was a stout 20 foot wooden telephone pole installed in the ground. At the top of the pole was a pulley block with ropes to a matching pulley block 20 feet up the mast. The intention was to raise the mast by pulling on the rope until the mast was vertical and then a GPO gentleman on top of a ladder would secure the mast to the pole whilst guy ropes were installed.

The top end of the mast was resting across a garden wall ready for the installation of the aerial. The GPO gentlemen had fixed clamps to hold the metal aerial pole to the mast, so all I had to do was to carefully assemble the aerial, connect the cable and fix it to the mast so that it would be pointing toward Holme Moss when the mast was erected.

All this activity on a Sunday morning aroused the interest of most people in the village and some from the surrounding area, it seemed. Quite a number were standing in front of the nearby chapel ignoring the requests of the Minister to attend the Sunday service.

Photographs show the aerial and mast being erected at Y Ffôr.

The raising of the mast started with the GPO gentlemen confident that all the preparations had been made correctly. However, their experience had always been with bare wood telephone poles, not a shiny, slippery, smooth, varnished mast. All went well until the mast reached an angle of about 35 degrees when the lashing holding the pulley block to the mast slipped down the mast and the mast together with the aerial crashed down on to the wall. The sudden shock caused all the 9 foot element rods to shear off and spin into the air like javelins. Fortunately no one was hurt, just a few red faces belonging to the GPO gentlemen and a slightly deeper hole in our customer’s pocket.

It was probably the most exciting event Rhiw had seen for some time. The Minister made capital of the disaster by saying that it was an ‘Act of God’ as punishment for working on the Sabbath.    

Coverage

It is the aim of the BBC to provide a television service covering, as far as possible, all parts of the United Kingdom. This entails the provision of an adequate number of transmitting stations of sufficient power and the means of conveying the television signals to them. It is also important that receivers and aerials should be suitably designed and chosen to suit local conditions; the BBC is in constant touch with the radio industry and the trade on these points. Already some 98 per cent of the population are within range of the service and this figure will be raised to about 98.2 per cent when additional stations already announced and under construction are completed. To extend the service to the remaining 2 per cent or so presents a very serious economic problem because these people are distributed over a large area.

 

APPROXIMATE FIELD-STRENGH CONTOURS OF THE HOLME MOSS TELEVISION TRANSMITTING STATION

 

Carrier Frequency = 51.75 Mc/s

Peak White Power = 50.kw (e.r.p. 100kw)

Reciving Aerial Height 30ft.

The Field Strength at any given place may differ over a range of 10db from the value indicated by the contours, which represent average values. Considerable fading may be experienced in the shaded area.

A few Sundays later I travelled to Rhiw again with a new aerial to replace the damaged one. This time the mast and aerial were erected successfully, (God must have looked the other way) I put a plug on the aerial cable and connected the TV set and up came the picture, black and white of course, somewhat grainy, but viewable. At that distance from the TV station reception would always be affected by the weather, poor during the summer months, with frosty winter nights providing the best pictures.

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Many thanks to Mr John Lawrence, for this information

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