Wright's Aerials

A wire had to be fixed into the connections on the aerial before we erected it. I was used to ordinary wireless aerial wire, but this was quite different. It had a thin inner core covered in white plastic. This was enclosed in a sort of woven tube of fine copper. This in turn was enclosed in a brown outer cover. I was told that this was special television aerial wire, called co-axial cable.

First job, put the ladders up and go and inspect the chimney. Was it sound enough to carry such a thing? It was a ten-pot chimney, two rows of five pots, went well above the roof and was in good condition. We started to make preparations. We spliced the metal eyes onto one end of each of the wire ropes. Charlie went back to the yard for two more short roof ladders. These were not roof ladders like those in use today, but were made at the yard of slate laths with a bit of four by two nailed on the end. He also brought back some wire cutters because the pliers in my tool bag would not cut the thick wire that we had to put round the chimney. I had another read of the instructions, then we made a start. Charlie went up the ladder first to get round the far side of the chimney. He took with him three bent bits of plate that the instructions said were to go on the corners of the chimney under the wire. I took the brackets with the hook bolts, the wire, a spanner and wire cutters in my pocket. I held the first bracket onto the corner of the chimney with one end of the wire on the hook bolt. Charlie took the other end and after pulling it as tight as he could bent the wire at each corner and finally got it round the other hook bolt. Now came the difficult bit, cutting the wire to length and then untwisting each strand in turn and wrapping it round the wire to make a splice. With the corner bits in place we spannered up the hook bolts and soon it was nice and tight. We repeated the whole procedure for the other bracket, which we fixed about eighteen inches below the first one. It wasn't quite so bad doing the second one because at least we had the first one to hang on to. This had all taken longer to do than we thought it would, and it was well past our dinnertime so the next thing was to get the kettle on and we had our snap.

After dinner we hauled the aerial, now on its mast, onto the roof, The whole thing was very heavy and unwieldy. The newfangled coaxial cable was very springy, not very flexible at all, and it kept getting tangled up, but somehow we fitted the bottom of the mast into the brackets. The shop owner came out with what turned out to be a compass in his hand. He told us that the aerial had to be turned to point in the right direction. I turned the aerial in the direction he said according to his compass reading. "The short rods have to be nearest to Birmingham," he said. As I sat on the roof people were looking up and pointing as the aerial glinted in the sun. One man shouted 'What is it?' Van drivers pulled up to have a look.

Now the aerial had to be fine-tuned directionally. The shop man was in the shop with the back door open, Charlie was in the yard, I was on the roof. The messages started coming up. 'To the right a bit', 'a bit more', and such like. There were long periods when the shop man was fiddling with the television set's controls and I had nothing to do. This went on for about an hour. Eventually the shop man seemed satisfied and I came down the ladder and went into the shop to have a look this television set. It was in a back room behind the shop on a workbench, not in a cabinet or anything. A little screen about nine inches across glowed bluey-green and seemed to have a few shadowy figures in a swirling snowstorm. A trackless1 went past and the picture disintegrated into a lot of sparks. I was not impressed. Who would want to sit in a darkened room watching that? But the shop owner was highly delighted. 'I'll work on it and get it better' he said. I went up on the roof to make sure that all the bolts were tight. We took down the ladders and loaded up the handcart. Little did I realise what that day's work would lead to in later life.

(1) Trackless: an electrically powered bus, like a tram but without rails.


  Albert a few years before he fixed his first television aerial.

Albert's dad Percy, Albert, and Bill
Print this page © 2003-2012, Wrights Aerials Add to Favorites