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Eglwysilan
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Download a PDF copy of the 1984 Eglwysillan Report

Eglwysilan Report
24 November 1984
(18Kb)


Directorate of Telecommunications
ANTENNAS & SITES; Eglwysilan



Introduction
This gallery contains a collection of scanned photographs relating to a radio mast collapse at the South Wales Constabulary Eglwysilan site.

from Graham Dean
12/03/2006

“These photographs were taken at the South Wales Constabulary site, Eglwysilan (also known as Twyn Howell). They show the Receive (Rx) tower that collapsed at 1439 hours on 8 January 1971 (or could be 1974 as the last numeral is not too clear on the cover page).

The reason for the collapse is not known but the weather looks fine with no snow or ice, bearing in mind the time of year. There could, of course, have been high winds at the time.

The Rx tower at any site normally has less antennas than the Transmit (Tx) tower (eg. a transceiver antenna will be installed on the Tx tower) but the Tx tower at this site does not look to have a great deal of equipment fitted to it so the Rx tower should have even less.

However, structural design specification, such as headload, is not known and the tower steelwork appears to be less substantial than current structures have. It would be interesting to hear the reason if anyone out there knows”

from Andrew Woodthorpe
04/03/2007

“The Eglwysilan mast collapse would have been 1974. I finished my four-year traineeship with Pye Telecom at the end of August 1973 whence I formally joined the Systems Installation Dept on 1st September although I had been working there for the previous six months.

One of the first field jobs that I went on - which I guess would have been late 1973 or early 1974 was to fit Mascot 70 at Mid Glamorgan Ambulance at Pontypridd, and the main site for that system was Eglwysilan.
 
If I remember correctly the equipment was on another mast at the site, possibly SWEB, as I recall going to the site one dark winter evening (a colleague was driving) and as we went round that very sharp bend and up the last bit of track we found the tower across the track.

I don't think we were the first to find it - the collapse would already have been known about elsewhere - but I do remember we had to pull off the job for the remainder of that week whilst the metalwork was removed.

from Brian Walters
16/05/2007

“Eglwysilan had a number of trials and mishaps as a D Tels remote hilltop site. Apart from being regularly cut off by snow, probably no longer a threat these days because of global warming, and the tower collapse of 1974, recounted by Graham Dean on this site.

I remember one evening in 1985, during the miner’s dispute when Paddy Kelly and I were called out by South Wales Police having lost comms from Eglwys. A quick check in the basement equipment room showed the downlinks were functional but there was no output from the Pye T300 main transmitters, and a remote bay change didn’t help either. Mid Glamorgan Fire Service were also experiencing difficulties from the site. There was nothing for it but a trip to the hilltop above Pontypridd in the trusty Landrover.

On arrival at the site, at first sight, nothing seemed out of place; however once we got into the equipment room, the first thing to greet us was the silence. Louder even than the gentle hum of mains transformers; no incoming link signals, no incoming main receiver signals; it was as if Eglwysilan was inside some kind of bubble, cut off from the outside world.

It wasn’t long before we located the problem(s). All the aerial feeders at the base of the receiver tower had been cut through; every single one of them; with an axe!

Now far be it for me to point a finger, but taking into account the turmoil of the period, the size then of the coal industry in the area and the hostility towards the police, all I can say was that this was an act of vandalism … vandals with Davy lamps!

P1/12 Eglwysilan

P1/12 Eglwysilan

P2/12 Eglwysilan

P2/12 Eglwysilan

P3/12 Eglwysilan

P3/12 Eglwysilan

P4/12 Eglwysilan

P4/12 Eglwysilan

P5/12 Eglwysilan

P5/12 Eglwysilan

P6/12 Eglwysilan

P6/12 Eglwysilan

P7/12 Eglwysilan

P7/12 Eglwysilan

P8/12 Eglwysilan

P8/12 Eglwysilan

P9/12 Eglwysilan

P9/12 Eglwysilan

P10/12 Eglwysilan

P10/12 Eglwysilan

P11/12 Eglwysilan

P11/12 Eglwysilan

P12/12 Eglwysilan

P12/12 Eglwysilan

Intercom 10 (P1/5)

Intercom 10 (P1/5)

Intercom 10 (P2/5)

Intercom 10 (P2/5)

Intercom 10 (P3/5)

Intercom 10 (P3/5)

Intercom 10 (P4/5)

Intercom 10 (P4/5)

Intercom 10 (P5/5)

Intercom 10 (P5/5)

Click on appropriate thumbnail to view the enlarged image

 

Once the faults had been identified and everybody who needed to be were informed, the whole emergency recovery system was launched. Selective “borrowing” of aerials on the Tx tower not in use and temporary aerials mounted on the fence posts had the site was back on the air, albeit on emergency talk through within an hour or so, and working under floodlights D Tels aerial riggers had the site back in a sort of normal condition in about 12 hours.

The adjacent radio site owned by the Gas Board which also suffered a similar attack that day was still off the air after 36 hours.

This once again proved the commitment of Home Office D of Tels staff to their customers and to providing a rock solid service in an emergency. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there are no photographs of this incident; we were all too busy putting everything back together again.”

from Lawrie Atkinson
19/11/2007

After the Eglwysilan collapse a Directorate team comprising Ron Whitby (Senior Structural Engineer) and Dave Kathuria (Structural Engineer) undertook a structural review of all sites to check loading capacity ahead of the WARC changeover, including the requirement for accommodating turnstile and slot panel antennas, temporary working antennas and microwave dishes.

from Paddy Kelly
16/04/2009

Whilst having a "tidy up" of old files and paperwork, I came across a copy of a report that I submitted immediately after one of the remote (Master) hill top sites in the South Wales area was vandalised during the miners industrial dispute.    Thought this might be of interest in how we (DTELS) used to work and respond to the unusual / emergency situations
 
The infrastructure at Eglywsillian site was badly damaged over a weekend during the protracted miners national dispute - resulting in major disruption of radio communications affecting all of the emergency services - together with the onward / return links to a further remote hill top site in north of county.
 
The original copy of the report was produced on a typewriter and has now been faithfully transferred to computer - spelling mistakes and all. 
For a copy of the report click on the download article link in the side menu.

Acknowledgement:  Photos and accompanying text, Graham Dean.  Also, Andrew Woodthorpe, Lawrie Atkinson and Paddy Kelly for their subsequent input.

The photographs were obtained from DTELS Site Management section on Ruddington's closure, but it is assumed that copyright belongs to South Wales Constabulary.


page updated: 10/03/16

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