Wooler

Page last updated: 16/12/2017

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History

Wooler was identified as a possible repeater site for the Manchester to Kirk o'Shotts television link but the station was not built. A paper presented to the IEE in 1954 noted "The reduced liability to fading [...] had to be balanced by the extra initial and maintenance costs of the station. [...] Experience to date has amply justified the risk taken..."

By the mid-1960s, however, a link from Dundonald to Boulmer was required for the Linesman radar system. Archives show an interim link was planned to be operational by January 1967, but the "permanent" installation at Wooler was dependent on completion of the building, expected to be by September 1967. The note also mentions issues with the steelwork which would delay the initial provision until February 1967 and then equipment modifications which would cause a further delay until mid-March 1967. It's clear the Post Office was under some pressure to make the link operational and most likely some sort of service would have been established during 1967. The site was later used for general telephony links over the east coast route.

The structure is a non-standard design but clearly based on components of the "standard tower" which had been in favour during the early to mid 1960s. The tower is effectively two low-height square towers fused together into a six-legged rectangular arrangement - the wide faces are aligned to carry dishes facing Blackcastle Hill and Corbys Craggs. It is possible the structure was designed to support horn antennas but the timing of their withdrawl from use on "new" routes makes it unlikely they were ever fitted. By 2007 there were six dishes on each side of the structure which seems to approached the maxium capacity. These had been removed by 2009 with the site now used only for local linking at 18 GHz - though one of these links is to Corby's Crags.

Photos

1975

Wooler 1975

Copyright BT Heritage [TCB417/E 64593]

It's difficult to be certain but the presence of empty cable drums suggests new antennas have been installed and it appears there could be four dishes of various styles on each side of the tower.

2007

Wooler 2007

Copyright Lisa Jarvis(Geograph)

Looking approximately north east - dishes face Blackcastle Hill (left) and Corby's Craggs (right). The open-face dishes possibly date from the 1970s - the covered type were used later, including for 1980s digital links.

Comparison with the 1975 view suggests some of the earliest dishes have been replaced but others remained.