014/100 – Crystal Palace transmitter

Crystal Palace transmitter
Crystal Palace transmitter – 1956

The transmitting tower at Crystal Palace is huge.

It has towered over the surrounding area from its construction in 1956 – in fact, it was the tallest structure in London until the construction of One Canada Square (at Canary Wharf, which the building is often mistakenly referred to as) in 1991.

And it still towers over its own corner of London, particularly as you approach it on Section Three of the Capital Ring, as Megan and I did this weekend.

I’ve mentioned before that I love a nice landmark on the horizon to head towards when out walking or cycling. It’s usually a church spire. But in this case, it’s the remarkably Eiffel Tower-like lattice of steel that reaches to 219m (719ft).

In a stroke of good timing, our approach coincided with sunset on a clear, spring evening. And so the structure loomed as a fine, delicate silhouette against a sky of various hues, growing as we got closer. It is an awe-inspiring sight.

The tower is the main television transmitter for the London area, and also carries FM and DAB radio, among other signals.

Anecdotally, I have vague memories of tinkering with Ceefax and Teletext in my childhood home of Amersham. I remember finding an engineering page (how?) which gave cryptic technical details. I was able to establish, by way of the three-letter code CRY, that our signals were indeed coming all the way to us from Crystal Palace transmitter.

After completing Section Three last weekend, the dying light meant we only had time for a quick scramble around the remains of the Crystal Palace, and the sports complex, before catching our train home.

I will return though – there’s plenty more to explore, but I just feel the need to go back and enjoy feeling dwarfed by the mast’s height once more.