THE CHORLEY HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
Night the Welsh invaded the Winter Hill TV transmitter.
I read with interest the article 'The Night the Welsh invaded Horwich', the memories of William Kay of the 1977 protest againt the transmitter, and I thought it would be interesting for the readers to have 'the other side'. I can provide that as I was one of the four protesters who broke into the mast on that March night over forty years ago.
|Angharad Tomos on Wikipedia.
My memories of the night was anticipation,
excitement and fear, if I'm honest. I was an eighteen year old student,
a passionate member of the Welsh Language Society, and the main campaign
was for a 4th TV Welsh language channel. Having failed with other means,
we began a campaign of targeting transmitters to stop the flow of
English language programmes to Wales, and draw attention to our demands.
We were a small group, with no resources, not even a driver. The only way to reach Winter Hill from mid Wales was to stick our thumbs out on the main road, and wait for some kind soul to give us a lift. Once we were on the outskirts of Manchester, a supportive member had promised to pick us up and drive us to the mast. That was all the preparation that was made. We had a hammer to gain an entry, but otherwise, we had no knowledge of the building. For someone with such scant experience, it was a daunting task.
|However, we managed to gain entry, and in the light of our torches, went from room to room until we saw a big ON switch, and we turned it to 'OFF'. That's when Bill Kay probably found us, and Peter Dennis. We said straight away that we were members of the Welsh Language Society, but probably that meant nothing to them. When Bill was quoted in the article saying that one of the women had a hammer, I realised it would have caused him worry. When you tell a policeman in Wales that you're a member of the Society, they know straight away that you pose no physical threat at all. The Welsh Language Society is a non-violent organisation who believe in direct action. That can mean causing damage to property, but human life is sacred, and we would never put lives at risk.
We had made
our point, and we waited for the police to arrive. I was glad that Bill
Kay mentioned that we had 'behaved impeccably', but I'm sorry that we
scared them. The minute we arrived at Chorley Police Station, there was
some aggresive questioning by the police. They suspected we were members
of the IRA. They didn't know that 'Angharad' was a Welsh name, and when
they heard 'Shaun' and 'Theresa', they immediately considered we were
Irish Republicans. When we explained we were Welsh, they did not believe
us. They did not know how we had the expertise to know where the control
room was. When we said it was pure chance, they still did not believe
us. We were kept at the police station for two days, and my hostel
warden at the university could not track us down, and my parents could
not contact us. In the court, we explained our demands, and were told
that the damage to the door was a £100 (not the £30 it was really
worth). I remember the decision of the magistrate:
Winter Hill Base Station and Mast.
|Winter Hill mast replaced an earlier 140m (450 ft) high transmitter that was built in 1956. The current mast came into service in 1966 and is over double the height at 309.48m (1,015.4 ft) tall. It's not the tallest mast in the UK but as the base of the mast is 441m (1,446 ft) above sea level Winter Hill has the highest television transmitting antenna in the UK at 750.5m (2,462 ft) above sea level and also the highest point in Lancashire.