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Pontop Pike antenna system

By Tony Smith

This set of pictures (click to enlarge) results from an inclination someone had to re-cable the feeders inside the Marconi Antenna perched on top of the Pontop Pike mast.

Taken on route up the mast to our landing spot between the Cylinders.
As the bulk of the work was going to take place at night after the UHF had been switched off (yes they used to switch off around midnight back then and people went off to their beds) we used to get as much equipment stored up on the structure as possible during the day.

The problem with having to land the cage between the cylinders was that you then had to squeeze up through the feeders and through the next cylinder to reach the UHF antenna.

Here a young T.C.P.D engineer Ken Vickers and a not so young T.C.P.D engineer Vernon Moyers are bringing up engineer type things in a bag.

This is looking down from the UHF level platform showing that it was a no-go area for landing cages.

This is the view you get once you open up the door into the base of the Marconi UHF antenna and I remember asking "are you sure you want to change this lot?"
Once the night work started we fixed a very large gas driven flood light onto the side of the cage. This was A: to help the winch driver see where we were, as crashing into the side of a mast at speed does nothing for the nerves, and B: to light up the lower cylinder to make climbing through a bit easier.
This flood light created a bit of a stir later on because several people in the Newcastle area reported seeing a UFO around Concert Steelworks. This led to the cage coming down one dawn morning to find a couple of Police cars and officers laughing their heads off. Mind you once they saw the state we were in wrapped up in rigging gear they went off convinced that there were aliens about.

These were taken during the work inside the UHF antenna and it was all very tight. Also Mr Marconi had designed lots of bolts and studs to catch on your clothing as you adopted the toe and heel technique up the ladders.

This picture shows the top hatch of the antenna open to the sky to let some air circulate through. It was also just below this point that the inside spine and panels are kept vertical inside the outer fibre glass by four hydraulic struts. These struts in fact allowed the whole internal antenna to move around a fair bit inside the outer casing which helped when we had to rig a rope ladder down between the panels and the outer case to make some adjustments.

This is T.C.P.D. technician Bill Bishop working down the panels on a rope ladder between the outer fibre glass case and the antenna.

Being where Pontop Pike is, it is subject to some rapid weather changes and these pictures show a day when we were suddenly caught out by a heavy blizzard.