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Kirk O'Shotts Transmitter

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Kirk O'Shotts has hosted a number of transmitter and relay sites since the 1950s.

Television service

Mast base, 2006
Mast base
© James Allan

The most obvious feature of the site is the television mast, which now rises some 600 feet (183 m) above the hilltop, and began transmitting 405 line signals for the BBC on March 14, 1952, with public service beginning on August 17, 1952. The station operated on Channel 3: Vision 56.75 MHz, Sound 53.25 MHz; covering an area with some 4.1 million potential viewers. The main transmitter details are given as: Vision, EMI Type 5704; Sound, STC Type CTS-12, with vertical polarisation. The mast had originally extended to some 700 feet, however the end of Band I (405 line television) transmissions during the 1980s meant that the related aerial was removed from the top of the mast.

With the demise of the 405 line service, the mast became the main national FM transmission station for the area, although that role was later taken over by the nearby Black Hill transmitter site. In the early 2000s, Kirk O'Shotts returned to service, carrying digital radio.

Near the main mast are the sites of a number of smaller microwave relay stations. Provided by BT (formerly the Post Office), two of these relayed the the original signal for retransmission by the main transmitter. The smaller mast was the original, later replaced by the larger installation which handled most of the links on the site.

Government service

Occupying its own site, remote from the others, is the site of a Government microwave relay station, also established there during the 1950s.

As with many similar locations established during the Cold War, there is a certain amount of mythology and misinformation circulating about the use of this site, and the least consistent stories have been ignored.

The relay appears to have been installed as part of the Backbone[1] communications system, which was basically intended to provide a reliable means of maintaining communication in the event that physical communications links, such as over or underground cables, were destroyed during a major attack. Backbone would be independent of these links, and maintain communications by use of microwave links, providing communications facilities for governmental, military and civil defence operations.

References

1 Subterranea Britannica description of Backbone

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Aerial views


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