A (as much as possible) rough guide for non-geek types to the radio and television transmitters covering our area
If you tune in to your local radio station or switch your Freeview box, there’s a great chance you’ll be getting your TV programmes from Winter Hill, or your radio station from Harrop Edge. Given how far Winter Hill is from Tameside (about 20 miles or so away), you will find that it is supported by a number of relays.
A relay repeats signals from its main transmitter, using a direct line of sight. Given that Tameside is well and truly in Granadaland, our TV signals come from Winter Hill which is just outside Bolton. Besides Winter Hill and its relays, Tameside and surrounding area has a number of radio transmitters. Some of which are not only for tuning in to BBC Radio Manchester or the like, but also police radio and amateur radio.
Some of the UK’s television and radio transmitters were formerly part of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, which also had responsibilities for independent local radio. The BBC’s were owned by Crown Castle and now owned by the National Grid. After being transferred to NTL, IBA’s transmitters were sold to Arqiva, its present owners.
Today we may take them for granted, but without them, how on earth do we catch up with our favourite programmes?
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1. Ashton Moss:
- Height: 30m;
- Type of Transmitter: tower;
- Frequencies: 1152kHz (Piccadilly Magic 1152), 1377kHz (Asian Sound Radio), 1458kHz (Gold);
- Power: 1.5kW, 0.08kW, 5kW;
- OS Grid References: SJ9146698517 and SJ9235299412.
Ashton Moss’ installation was erected in 1974 to cater for medium wave stations. Its quartet of towers were constructed for BBC Radio Manchester’s and Piccadilly Radio’s Medium Wave frequencies. On giving up its 1458kHz in favour of an FM only service, BBC’s transmitters were handed to Fortune 1458 AM. Today, that belongs to Capital Radio’s ‘Gold’ station. Piccadilly Radio’s MW service became Piccadilly Gold, then Piccadilly 1152 before adopting its present name of ‘Piccadilly Magic 1152’. A low powered transmitter, at 0.08kW is Asian Sound Radio’s.
2. Harrop Edge:
- Height: 12.2m;
- Type of Transmitter: guyed pole;
- Frequencies: 103.6MHz (Tameside Radio);
- OS Grid Reference: SJ984964.
The Harrop Edge site has seen recent expansion since Tameside Radio began broadcasting in 2007. Prior to then, it was a favourite location for local pirate radio stations Aquarius and Andromeda. Tameside Radio’s transmitters are also shared with amateur radio services. Given its topography as well as its powerful, Tameside Radio’s signal can be picked up as far as Chadderton and Altrincham.
- Height: 17m;
- Type of Transmitter: tripole;
- OS Grid Reference: SJ987962.
The rise of digital television has seen a number of smaller digital transmitters appear. One in Mottram, just south of Harrop Edge serves as a sub-relay to Glossop’s relay with Winter Hill.
- Height: 45.7m;
- Type of Transmitter: tower;
- Analogue Radio Frequencies: 89.8MHz (BBC Radio 2), 91.9MHz (BBC Radio 3), 94.1MHz (BBC Radio 4), 99.3MHz (BBC Radio 1), 103MHz (Key 103), 104.6MHz (BBC Radio Manchester);
- OS Grid Reference: SD98700500.
Most of Tameside’s radio and televisual requirements are serviced by the Saddleworth transmitter. It relays the borough’s FM radio frequencies, such as Key 103 and BBC Radio Manchester. It is also a relay for digital terrestrial television services, relaying the signals from Winter Hill. BBC’s national radio stations are relayed from the Black Hill transmitter, between Woodhead and Holmfirth.
5. Werneth Low:
- Height: 33m;
- Type of Transmitter: square lattice tower;
- Frequencies: unknown;
- OS Grid Reference: SJ96549289.
For several years, the transmission masts on Werneth Low have remained the preserve of the emergency services. Today, Greater Manchester Police are among its main users, with their transmitter upgraded to accommodate the digital TETRA system. This uses similar frequencies to cellular phones and was the source of most headaches suffered by police officers.
S.V., 10 February 2013.