Marley Hill Wireless Station
Marley Hill Regional Wireless Station was one of eight similar stations opened in 1942 by the Home Office Communications Branch. Its function was to transmit messages to police cars located anywhere from the Scottish border to the North Riding of Yorkshire - an area which amazingly included 12 county, borough and city police forces. The various police force headquarters passed messages to Marley Hill by private-wire telephone, and operators there transmitted the messages to cars using a powerful transmitter and a giant 140-foot mast, which dominated the site. This was a one-way morse system - the cars could not reply - and the cars of all forces heard all of the messages, even those from other forces. Marley Hill and the eight other stations together covered the whole of England.
This early scheme, known as the Medium Frequency Regional Scheme, was superseded in the early 1950s by individual two-way VHF radio schemes for each police force. These schemes did not utilize any of the nine existing sites - the masts and transmitters for the new schemes were situated on numerous new hilltop sites chosen to optimise coverage of the desired areas.
Having lost its communications function, Marley Hill, like the other eight establishments, became a Regional Wireless Depot responsible for maintaining the fixed, mobile and portable radio equipment used by police forces - and later by fire brigades too. The giant transmitting mast disappeared and was replaced by the much smaller mast we see today. This mast has a very mundane function; it provides communications between the depot and service engineers working around the area.
In the mid-1990s the depots were privatised - Marley Hill is now operated by NTL.
My father Bob Wheatley worked at Marley Hill RW Station in 1961-63 having been transferred from way down south to the most northerly outpost of the Home Office radio engineers.
Anyone else working there at that time?
Posted by: Mike Wheatley at January 6, 2009 9:46 PM
Thanks for your comments about Marley Hill Wireless Station.
Posted by: Whickham Web Wanderers at January 7, 2009 12:15 PM
I worked for the Home Office Telecommunication Branch from about 1967 to 1990, when I took early retirement.
Although Marley Hill was the regional depot, I worked in Penrith, Cumbria.
Most of my 'Hands On' training was done at Marley Hill.
I also spent the odd week or so over there when they were short staffed.
I have fond memories of both the depot & the staff there.
I took early retirement about 2 years before the service was privatised.
Posted by: John Borradaile at March 30, 2009 2:58 PM