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Thread: GPO Radio Laboratory – Backwell – Then and Now April 2017

  1. #1
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    Default GPO Radio Laboratory – Backwell – Then and Now April 2017


    First Bit:
    This is not a proper report, but it feels like too much for the ‘Before-and-After’ section. These are archive photos dug up during the researching that have never been on Google images before, so It seems only fair that the world should now ogle them and my pathetic attempt at aligning some then-and-now photos.

    Exploring this ‘lovely hillside’:
    I’ll admit that I am a nutter for anything technical, particularly stuff that is well built.
    Following the DP Bristol 2017 meet DeadFormat and I headed over to study what remains of Backwell.
    Why? You might ask – after all there is almost nothing left to look at. (If you can answer that question for me then please let me know what the answer is.) Backwell is currently awaiting planning permission for four luxury homes to be stuck on a lovely hillside, so it might be a case of now-or-never. Plus! Her Majesty’s Government paid for it, so I will be enjoying it.
    DeadFormat has written about this stroll in a charming humorous tone. I suggest you try his report if you want to read a delightfully British and more interesting writeup. I however enjoy researching and writing about such outposts of technology.

    GPO Radio Laboratory – Backwell – Then and April 2017
    Backwell PO Radio Laboratory first came about around 1937. Some of its earliest work was to develop air conditioning for telephone exchanges.

    Nowadays:

    The earliest photos show VHF Television signals being transmitted to Castleton (another laboratory in Monmouthshire) by 1945. The station was actually further down the hillside.

    By 1958 the new site further up the hill was working in conjunction with a station in Slough for Tropospheric tests (effectively transmitting Satellite TV, but avoiding clouds), note the dishes:

    The final experiment was for 120MBPS Data links with Castleton again, note the new mast:




    This unassuming shed [red arrow] is the only surviving building from the earliest radio station:

    It is still in its original location, seen here as the closest building to the camera on the RHS:


    This hut was used for the 1950s experiments in the first “compound”:




    Not a perfect alignment of the site driveway:

    It was always intended to be a lesser published (but not really top secret) operation. Despite this, 24 hour Security was provided from the 'White House' - the curved front building, and an on-site fire station (upper LHS) was added.
    New buildings were under construction but reportedly never finished at the time of closure, they can be seen at the top RHS of the driveway

    Not much is recorded about the technologies developed onsite, but some archives and equipment have been taken into the National Collection BT Archives at Holborn Telephone Exchange.

    The site became redundant after 1975 but was still in use for some sort of British Telecom work in the early 1980s.

    Along with the site sewage and water treatment works, it was sold in 1993 to a BT Manager. This is what it looked like then. His executors of will are currently applying to build four houses on the site.



    Well now. That is a photographic potted history of the place that made your TV, Skybox and even mobile internet possible.

    Cheers everyone. Regards, Electric.



    Archive photos, Originator unknown.

  2. Thanks given by: Dam_01, dead format, flyboys90, Gromr, Hugh Jorgan, jsp77, krela, Newage, oldscrote, psykie, Rubex, smiler, stu8fish, thorfrun
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  4. #2
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    Great stuff Electric, thank you.

  5. Thanks given by: Electric
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    Sound Job Electric, Thanks
    Smiler
    😁

  7. Thanks given by: Electric
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    Interesting stuff! Nice one Electric :)

  9. Thanks given by: Electric
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    Nicely done. I like the idea of adding "before" and "after" photos. Comparing with the "before" photos you are able to see how much derelict the place has become.
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

  11. Thanks given by: Electric
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    Fascinating, I've visited one or two former Post Office Radio sites like Criggion and Rugby - shame this one is so far gone, but I enjoyed the archive images. :)

  13. Thanks given by: Electric
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    Really interesting report.Thanks Electric.

  15. Thanks given by: Electric
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    Great work

  17. Thanks given by: Electric
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    Great well researched report. Interesting reading. Thanks.
    F,ing hippies. I shit hippies.

  19. Thanks given by: Electric
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    I enjoyed you take on it Electric, with the before and after shots, cheers

  21. Thanks given by: Electric

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DerelictPlaces is a forum for people with an interest in the history and documentation of disused, derelict and abandoned buildings to come together and share their experiences, photography and historical findings. Our military, industrial and historical heritage is fast disappearing under the pressure of regeneration, the need for new housing, and often through simple neglect; Our aim is to document these places before they disappear entirely.
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