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Toward Taynuilt Radio Station

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Lattice tower, station building, and cellular base station in foreground, 2007, Fox
Lattice tower, station building, and
cellular base station in foreground

Toward Taynuilt is the location of a radio station described as a commercial or public service installation sited on a hillside approximately six miles south of Dunoon. A cellular phone system base station with mast is also located on the hillside. A small brick built enclosure on the eastern part of site is unrelated to either installation, and houses the control gear for an underground water reservoir located beneath it.

The present day site has a pair of fairly recent lattice towers adjacent to a large, substantial, air-conditioned building within a fenced, gated, and locked compound, which houses the associated station equipment.

Site purpose

Toward Taynuilt masts from ferry MV Saturn, 2008
Toward Taynuilt masts
© Thomas Nugent

In 2003, VT Merlin Communications started a rationalisation and upgrade programme for long distance strategic communications between British Army units, RAF aircraft, Royal Navy warships and UK headquarters, to be delivered for the Strategic Terrestrial Radio Systems Integrated Project Team (STRS-IPT) under a 15 year, £220 million, Public Private Partnership programme. This included two sites listed in Scotland as providing specialist HF services: Toward Taynuilt and Clach MacKenny for local services to the Clyde. VT Merlin stated that following a site rationalisation programme, HF operations currently provided by existing MoD sites will cease at Milltown, Toward Taynuilt and Clach McKenny in Scotland and at Bampton Castle, Chelveston, St Mawgan and Fort Staddon in England. Operations at these sites will cease progressively from late 2003 to early 2006. Many of these sites are used for other purposes by the MoD and the only sites that are currently expected to close are those at Milltown, Chelveston and Bampton Castle.[1]

In its earlier years, the site was used for Royal Navy RATT (radio teletype) - a communication system which was used to send information to navy vessels and keep them up to date, but which was generally suitable for two-way communications, so vessels would normally only listen for such transmissions. More specialised and advanced RATT systems could be used for two-way communications, however it should be be noted that these transmitted data rather than speech, and could be encrypted if needed.

Site location

The location given for the station by RCAHMS is incorrect, and is actually that of the former Toward Transmitter, which is further described on its own page, removed during the 1990s. This error indicates that they must have surveyed both sites, and omitted the lower site from their records, but mistakenly used its grid reference as the entry for the hillside site.

Site history and use

Fenced area, MoD and hazard warning signs, 2007, Fox
Fenced area, MoD and hazard
warning signs

The upper site is of further interest, as past OS mapping shows that three further, apparently much more substantial masts were previously located there. The remains of the large, circular, mast bases can be seen in the aerial view provided below.

Site visit

A site visit in 2007 found much of the fencing, cabling, and MoD warning signs still in place, with the flat area provided by the platforms now being used by the farmer, and becoming obscured beneath mud, and other deposits.

Early in 2009 it was noticed that a new smaller mast was being constructed above the two mentioned above.

Photographs

Station building, 2007, Fox
Station building
Terminated cable, concrete anchor, 2007, Fox
Terminated cable, concrete anchor
Circular base obscured by debris, 2007, Fox
Circular base obscured by debris


References

1 VT Merlin commences HF Communications contract

External links

Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-

 

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Aerial views


Map

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