SiteName: Rugby Radio Station
LATEST NEWS: Eight of the twelve 820' masts at Rugby were demolished by DSM demolition contractors during the evening of of 19th June 2004. See here for full details, pictures and video 30/6/04.
Sub Brit site visit 28th May 2003
[Source: Andrew Emmerson]
WHAT The tall masts of Rugby
Radio Station (some 820ft high) are a familiar landmark to travellers
on the M1 motorway, A5 trunk road and West Coast Main Line railway.
In the near future all but two will be demolished, making this an apt
time to investigate Rugby. The radio station described below belonged
originally to the Post Office and after privatisation, to British Telecom.
Photo:View from Normandy Hill
Photo from Rugby Radio Museum
WHERE Rugby radio station lies astride the A5 trunk road (the ancient Watling Street Roman road). The road marks the western border of the ancient Danelaw territory and is the county boundary, meaning that half the station is in Warwickshire and the other in Northants.. The nearest habitation is the village of Hillmorton, now a suburb of Rugby.
ITS FUNCTION Rugby's sole continuing function is to transmit time signals of guaranteed accuracy, derived from the standard time clock run by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). As well as setting vast numbers of radio-controlled clocks in Britain the NPL's time signal has many other interesting applications. When you call the speaking clock, or hear the time 'pips' on the radio, for instance, the time is derived from the NPL's atomic clock. Rugby's radio telephony roles were given up some years back.
"Although the exact role is wreathed in secrecy, it is believed it acts as a contact point for nuclear submarines across the world and was a 'Category A' target during the Cold War."
The Trident Ploughshares website is more explicit and asserts the station commanded Trident submarines, saying: "The main sites for command and control of Trident submarines include Criggion, Rugby, Anthorn and Inskip. These sites normally consist of radio masts and little else. Command and control systems begin with the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, London. Actual operational instructions are transmitted from RAF Northwood. However, Trident is also linked into the US command and control system and with various NATO systems."
However, Peter Hennessey's book The Secret State (revised edition, 2003) blows away any remaining doubt with the statement, "Among [the Russians'] military targets were the very low frequency signals installations at Rugby and Criggion, whose purpose was and is to relay the Prime Minister's instructions to the commanders of the deterrent-bearing submarines."
RUGBY'S HISTORY In the early part of the 20th century, the British government showed considerable interest in developing a series of powerful radio transmitters that would join the British Empire together via radio links.
Some of this work was completed by the Marconi company but the government decided to build its own Post Office-run communication station to avoid being reliant on Marconi.
Hillmorton, near Rugby, along with Leafield in Oxfordshire, were chosen as excellent sites for transmitting.
During World War II many of Rugby's transmitters were used by the armed forces. In January 1940 the main antenna collapsed under the weight of ice and in March 1943 a disastrous fire put the VLF transmitter out of action for a while; its role was taken over by Criggion
Additional transmitters were installed in a new building in 1953 and
the power supply was renewed.
Further information and pictures about this site continues here
[Source: Andrew Emmerson]