Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Unfamous Places

The BBC News Magazine: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4791577.stm is asking people to vote for their favourite unsung landmark in the UK. Amongst those making the final vote, are two places that personally I would choose - Didcot Power Station and the Radio Masts at Rugby.

You may think that neither sound like particularly notable or attractive landmarks however both have a certain interest. Didcot Power Station would probably, in most people's view, be one of the most ugly places in South Oxfordshire. However, seen from a distance, its huge cooling towers have an enigmatic beauty, especially as they rise so boldly from the gentle green fields around. They are about the only thing that distinguishes Didcot and while they may not for everyone be the most attractive symbol of a town, the cooling towers are at least dramatic and noteworthy.

The Radio Masts at Rugby have long fascinated me, well for as long as I've lived in this area. At first I thought it must be some giant radio telescope. Its use though is rather more down to Earth. As I understand it the Rugby Radio Masts broadcast the Greenwich Time Signal - that sequence of six 'pips' that signal the hour and half-hour that you hear on radio. Also, I read in a booklet on the installation that the time signal from Rugby is used to set the clocks on many railway stations throughout the UK.

Whenever I see the Rugby Radio Masts I know that I am never far from home. If returning from a long journey up north or the Midlands, the Radio Masts announce the fact that the next stop will be Milton Keynes. At night it looks quite attractive, with the red lights at the top of each mast illuminated as a warning to aircraft.

Both the Rugby Radio Masts and Didcot Power Station, if nothing else, are symbols of the places they represent and are such an indelible feature of the landscape that they always catch the eye. Long may they continue to serve as unfamous landmarks.

3 comments:

Derek said...

*checks list*....apart from the impressive Jodrell Bank radio telescope, I second your vote for the famous Rugby masts!! When I return from a visit to London by train (using the West Coast mainline) those transmission masts remind me I'm only about 15 mins away from the last stop. They look amazing at dusk!! :)

Nice to see your blog! I'm sure you'll have great fun keeping it going. :)

jamie said...

weren't those cooling towers used as a location for 'the ark' in the excellent tv series,'the last train'?

Mark said...

I am not sure about Didoct being used in 'The Last Train' although they certainly featured in Superman IV.