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It announced "The Post Office are planning to build up a special network, both by cable and radio, designed to maintain long distance communication in the event of an attack". It wasn't actually built until the early s, by which time the original Backbone concept had become absorbed into a much larger microwave network built for a mixture of civil and defence traffic including voice, telegraphy, television and radar.
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Archived from the original on The Sitefinder website has now been discontinued. We no longer receive data updates from mobile operators on their mast locations. As a result, the Sitefinder data was several years old and could be very misleading.
If you're driving along the M40 towards London the nature reserve is the land immediately either side of the motorway as is climbs through the cutting towards Stokenchurch mast. Last edited by Dave Phillips on Sun Jan 15, My intention was to point out that as a VFR pilot only I would not have wanted to be flying, but didn't want to malign the victim who might well have been fully qualified to cope with the conditions I have driven through.
I passed Stokenchurch at Cloud was right on the tops of the hills, thick fog for a mile or so until you dropped down to the north. I then saw a RH22 beetling along below the cloud base.
Sun Aug 31, One Air Display or another. It did clear up around that time. But having nearly suckered myself into Chilterns vs. Thu Sep 25, Plenty people take of to do IFR flights from Leicester or Turweston, and alike - or come back to land - because local ceiling is high enough.
Lets hope this wasn't one of those "I have to get home before Monday" type of flights. Last edited by Low Approach on Sun Jan 15, Mon Aug 10, Police helicopter unit NPAS Benson tweeted it sent a helicopter to the scene of the crash, but low cloud prevented crews from landing.
Sat Feb 25, The time you need balls of steel is when you haven't got a leg to stand on. One of the oddities about the history of Backbone, and it is tempting to say that this could only happen in Britain is that a project apparently needed for national defence at the height of the Cold War could be delayed by what would now be called the environmental lobby notably the SPRE, the National Trust , the National Parks Commission and, perhaps most surprisingly, the Fine Arts Commission.
This was because many of the sites which had to be away from built up areas and on high ground were in what we would now call environmentally sensitive areas. These bodies had to be consulted and the delays this entailed together with those self-imposed by the GPO and the lack of funds from central government seem to argue against the Backbone being particularly important. However, the planning enquiries which these bodies required give us some important insights into the scheme.
This original Backbone scheme plan was conceived in apparently primarily for defence and plans were actively being made by but the plan ran into various problems with equipment design and site acquisition. Following the Strath Report there was also a reappraisal of the need for such strategic communications systems.
But more importantly, and as usual for civil defence there was no money to implement the plans and even in the Official committee on Civil Defence was saying that there was only funds to complete half of Backbone but by then the plans had already been deferred so that it was planned that the southern part of Backbone would not be complete until and the northern part not until It appears that around many more microwave stations were planned with perhaps the most well known being the towers in the centres of London started , Birmingham started and Manchester.
These towers together with ones in Bristol and Leeds are in direct contradiction of the original idea that Backbone would provide a route by-passing the major cities which might be attacked in war and suggest that the new stations had different priorities. In December a public enquiry was held into this proposed site which gives us a lot of information about official thinking.
The GPO witness to the enquiry said that the GPO was responsible for communications up to and after attack and therefore its services must be provided in advance. Nearly all the long distance circuits were underground and passed through densely populated areas and might be damaged by an attack. Radio stations would be less likely to suffer damage and consequently as a safeguard against attack the PO supplemented cable by a radio-relay network which must 1.
He added that the primary need was for defence and the Wotton tower was needed to link to 4 adjacent ones. A map provided did not specify these 4 sites but it is noteable that it has an 'arrow pointing exactly towards the Five Ways mast at Corsham '. The mast here was built in the early s and probably only carried only one horn. Unusually, if not uniquely the mast was truncated in the late s and it is now only half its original height.
It was also the site of the central government emergency war headquarters where by the early s the communications were being installed. The final report of the government inspector heading the Wotton enquiry summed up the GPO case and gave some more revealing detail. It is also to meet growing demands for public trunk telephone circuits and additional TV relaying facilities amounting to several thousand phone circuits and TV channels over the next 5 to 10 years.
The station which the PO is to establish would be the key radio relay station in this network serving routes to the west, south west, south and east for extension to London.
With this in mind and in consultation with civil and service departments it agreed to provide an alternative radio-relay system network to the established cable network…this policy is in accordance with the White Paper on Defence of In this connection the station must be suitably positioned to connect with existing stations in the main west-bound route which has been positioned to minimise the probability of interruption during war-time. The enquiry in fact considered 2 sites a few miles apart and it seems to have been important that they were on the right contour ie height above sea level.
The Inspector recommended that permission be granted which in September it was. Public enquiries into the Fairseat and Flimwell sites in refer to a defence need as did the one into the Butser Hill site near Portsmouth.
But given the large numbers of these new stations and their cost it seems very unlikely that defence needs were a principal driving force because there was never any money available in the home defence budgets to pay for them.
It is tempting to speculate that defence needs were cited at public enquiries on the grounds that this would be treated more sympathetically than commercial needs. By the GPO microwave network covered some stations centred on the new GPO Tower in London which itself could handle connections and 40 TV channels — a far cry from the capacity of the original Backbone stations. This has lead to considerable speculation as to the reasons for the different types. The answer however seems to be quite simple.
The missing sixth tower was Morborne Hill, near Peterborough. Further evidence was provided by the GPO witness who said that the general construction of the Wotton tower would be of reinforced concrete with unwrought timber shutters to the external face to give a pleasing appearance to the finished concrete. He said that a similar design has been found aesthetically acceptable by the Royal Fine Arts Commission and added, significantly, that the concrete and the microwave dishes could be painted to blend in with the countryside.
So the clue appears to be in the siting of the concrete towers — they are all in environmentally sensitive areas. The GPO wanted to use steel masts because they had a greater load carrying capacity but the concrete ones are less of an eyesore and more acceptable to the environmental lobby groups.
Apart from the 6 rural Backbone stations the only other concrete towers are post-Backbone ones in cities — London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Bristol, or in the case of Tolsford Hill high on the North Downs near Folkestone. They would all be very visible to many people and this adds to the impression that the difference structures were dictated simply by appearance with aesthetics overruling function. Stokenchurch — as shown in a press release after criticism of its visual impact and below as built although originally horns were fitted rather than dishes.
Although Backbone is frequently mentioned in PRO files on home defence in the late s it is hardly mentioned at all in the s.