The BT microwave network developed from a series of routes established by the Post Office in the 1950s, mostly to provide links for television. There was significant expansion during the 1960s, with microwave links forming a major part of the UK trunk telephone network. Additional routes were added in the 1970s including an extensive network linking the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. In the early 1980s further expansion occurred with new sites and routes added as part of BT’s transition to a digital network.
Due to problems in obtaining planning permission not all of the 1980s development was completed and within a few years the use of fibre optic cable had started to dominate. Much of the network continued to carry traffic over digital SHF links for another 20 years. The core network was converted to fibre and the SHF routes decommissioned with sites losing their “big dishes” from around 2005 onwards. Some long-haul links remain in the north of Scotland and most of the sites remain in use for local linking – a few have been completely cleared and the land used for other purposes.
This site attempts to document the development and decline of the core PO/BT network over the period from around 1950 to 2010. In general any subsequent use whether by BT or others is not considered.
Each known PO/BT site has its own page showing the location, known or assumed links to adjacent sites and a brief summary of the site’s history. Where available photographs from BT Archives or other collections have been used to illustrate the development of the sites, along with more recent photos. Each main route is also documented.
Updates will be made as time permits. There are over 200 sites in total – basic details are known for most but research is continuing. The sites featured have been selected because they appear on lists produced by the Post Office/BT in the 1970s and 1980s or are of historical interest. Some non-BT sites used for broadcasting have been included since they are either the source or destination of links provided by BT.
Information is presented in good faith but any clarifications or corrections are very welcome. Please use the Feedback link to make contact.