Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Transmitter

As part of the Fun Palaces weekend back in October, Arqiva, the company that operates Upper Norwood's twin transmitter towers, invited members of the public in to tour their site on the edge of Crystal Palace Park. Places were limited, so I was fortunate to get on one of the tours lead by Arqiva employee, Ray Bravo. Constructed in the 50s, the transmitter, at 219 metres was the tallest structure in London until the building of 1 Canada Square at Canary Wharf in the 80s. By virtue of its position on one of South London's highest ridges, however, it's apex retains the title of highest point in the city. In the early days of television, John Logie Baird had constructed a transmitter and tv studio in the palace itself, only to be destroyed in the fire of 1936.
Our guide imparted his wealth of knowledge of both analogue and digital transmission, as he took us on a journey through what looked like the bowels of a ship, though please don't ask me to share what I learnt, there were an awful lot of buttons. And my concentration span has always been pathetically short.

Ray Bravo in full flow

Sinead Taylor and Matt Bannister pretending to understand it all!

Finally, we were lead upstairs, out of the confines of the windowless world of the control rooms, emerging beneath the tower itself.