Telecommunications on masts at Great Bromley, Wherstead etc.

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gettysburg
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Telecommunications on masts at Great Bromley, Wherstead etc.

Post by gettysburg » Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:06 pm

Excuse me for slipping into your website with a load of questions.

For many years I researched wartime radar along the East Coast and a while back published a booklet on the Chain Home station at Great Bromley, Essex, based on a great deal of National Archive, RAF Museum, USAF, and technical journal research.
I included a last chapter about use of the site since 1945, and detailed its use by Marconi's, Essex Police etc. I now feel it was incomplete and hope to re-edit it.
In the 1980s (and till recently) there were numerous, mainly Yagi-type, aerials along the legs of the one remaining Gt Bromley tower. All were for radio-relay purposes, some USAF (till 1992), others emergency services.
A website called "RingBell" informs that Gt Bromley was until the digital era also a Home Office-controlled relay mast for such bodies as Royal Observer Corps and Civil Defence. Recently I also spotted an online announcement by the local district council saying that Arquiva wanted to use the mast.

Does anyone know more about who had--and still has--- relay equipment and aerials at Gt B and for what purposes? To link where to where?
Did anyone visit or work there?
Also, can anyone tell me more about the function of nearby masts such as the ones at Wherstead, just south of Ipswich? Also Civil Defence? Did it receive and transmit to Bromley?
I'm trying to find out about the whole history of these masts in North Essex and Suffolk.
(Mainly from the Home Office, Civil Defence, angles...commercial mobile phone links of no interest!)
Any clues or recollections, especially with names and dates, would be much appreciated!

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Bob Barron
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Re: Telecommunications on masts at Great Bromley, Wherstead

Post by Bob Barron » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:42 pm

I was a HO Wireless Technician in the mid/late 70s and visited Great Bromley on a number of occasions to service the Essex Police equipment there. You might already have the following information but if not I hope it is of some help. Essex Police had three wide area VHF channels to communicate with mobiles. Channel 1 was county wide; channel 2 was "north" of the county and channel 3 was "south" of the county (basically covering Southend; Basildon and Grays - i.e. the urban areas along the Thames estuary). Great Bromley was one of the sites used for channels 1 and 2. Both channels were directly linked to Police HQ at Chelmsford. So, at Gt Bromley in addition to the omni directional antennas for base receive and base transmit (80/100MHz) there would have been the associated link equipment which would at the time have accounted for some of the yagis. The link receive at Gt Bromley from Chelmsford would likely have been in the 146/148 MHz band vertically polarised and the link transmit from Gt Bromley to Chelmsford would likely have been horizontally polarised in the 154/156 MHz band. In the 1990s, following decisions at the World Administrative Radio Conference 1979, Essex Police along with other UK emergency services vacated the 80/100MHz bands and mobile services were re-assigned within the existing fixed link bands. More recently, all the mobile and link services in these bands will have been replaced by the national digital service. I assume (but don't know) that all the old VHF antennae have now been removed.

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gettysburg
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Re: Telecommunications on masts at Great Bromley, Wherstead

Post by gettysburg » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:10 am

Hello Bob

Many thanks for that useful information--from it I think I can deduce the function of the various aerials on some rather good photos of the tower taken by a member of the US Air Force (circa 1983).

I assume that one of the huts under the mast housed a set for receiving the Police signals, boosting and re-transmitting them? Would this normally have been unmanned?

Would the mast have just linked patrol cars to Chelmsford Control Room, or local police stations to cars and Chelmsford?

As you say, most of the aerials disappeared recently, I assume when Police went onto Tetra/Airwave.
There do seem to be about 3 small UHF dish aerials left, and wonder what they are for.

Julian Foynes (Gettysburg)

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Bob Barron
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Re: Telecommunications on masts at Great Bromley, Wherstead

Post by Bob Barron » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:27 pm

Hello Julian

This was a fairly statndard HO scheme. The site did have a separate building for the police equipment and this was unmanned. The site provided two off, two frequency simplex communication channels between the police headquarters at Chelmsford and police vehicles in the north east Essex area, covering roughly between Colchester and the coastal towns of Clacton, Walton on Naze and Harwich. The local police stations in these towns were equipped with "fixed mobile" transceivers to monitor the channels and communicate if required with force HQ at Chelmsford. Communication between vehicles could be requested and the operator at HQ would switch the scheme to "talkthrough" but for the most part all comms. would have been between vehicles and the Chelmsford operator. Hope that helps.

Regards

Bob

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