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Divis (Duibhis)
Elevation 478 m (1,568 ft)
Prominence 380 m (1,247 ft)
Listing Marilyn
Location
Location Antrim Mountains, Northern Ireland
Topo map OSNI Discovery 15
OSI/OSNI grid J280754
Map of Divis National Trust brochure

Divis (from the Irish: Duibhis/Dubh Ais meaning "black back") is an area of sprawling moorland to the north-west of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It extends north to the Antrim plateau and shares its geology consisting of a basaltic cover underlain by limestone and lias clay.

Only recently have the Divis area and its surrounding mountains been handed over to the National Trust; from 1953 to 2005, it was under the control of the Ministry of Defence. It was also used as a training area for the army. It might have been released earlier, but due to the period of unrest known as the Troubles, the British Government and military viewed the area as a useful vantage point, overlooking Belfast.

Divis Transmitter

The Divis Transmitter is the main high-power UHF and BBC National FM/DAB station that serves County Antrim and parts of County Down.

Sited just outside Belfast, it is the primary UHF/FM main station in Northern Ireland and was originally the country's main BBC 405-line television transmitter, coming into operation in this capacity in July 1955. As such, it was the first permanent television transmitter to be established within Ireland.

Although one of three UHF main stations in Northern Ireland, it is the only one to feature a stayed mast, the other stations at Brougher Mountain and Limavady both utilising smaller self-supporting towers. Stayed masts are however located at the UHF relay stations at Londonderry and Strabane (respectively former BBC and ITA 405-line relays) and at Black Mountain, the former ITA 405-line main station and current transmitter of 'Five' that is sited adjacent to Divis.

The Divis station is located in a range of hills directly overlooking Belfast to the west, in an area which for many years was controlled by the Ministry of Defence, until it was sold in 2004 to the National Trust and subsequently opened to the public. It is sited between the peaks of Divis Mountain and Black Mountain and is ironically closer to the latter than the transmitter that is named after it.

Television history

Divis was opened by the BBC on 21 July 1955 as their permanent 405-line Band I transmission facility serving Northern Ireland. It superseded the temporary station at Glencairn, which was one of two transmitters (the other being Pontop Pike) to be rushed into operation on 1 May 1953, in time for the televised Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Although the BBC had by this time already obtained the Divis site, the need to construct the long access road was the primary factor preventing its immediate use for a provisional installation.

Divis was designated as a medium-power transmitter, on which type of installation the second phase of BBC Band I stations were based. In this respect, Divis was grouped with permanent installations at Meldrum, North Hessary Tor, Pontop Pike, Rowridge, Sandale and Tacolneston. Transmissions from Divis were on VHF Channel 1 at a peak output of 35 kW vision e.r.p.

In due course, a number of relay stations were established across Northern Ireland to enhance coverage from Divis, most notably at Brougher Mountain in County Fermanagh, the latter being the site of a future UHF main station.

In the meantime, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) built their equivalent 405-line VHF Band III station close to Divis. Located at Black Mountain quarry, less than two miles to the south-west, this came into operation on 31 October 1959 and utilised a taller 750-ft mast.

Divis however became the UHF main station for Belfast and surrounding area with BBC2 the first regular service commencing 18 March 1967. Colour UHF transmitters for BBC1 and ITV came into operation in September 1970.

Both this site and Black Mountain are perhaps not surprisingly (bearing in mind the area history) dual ring-fenced for enhanced security.

Location: Divis Road, Nr Hannahstown, County Antrim, BT17 0NG Grid Reference: J286750 Landlord:Arqiva (Legacy: BBC/Crown Castle UK/National Grid Wireless) Ground Height: 365.8m BBC Region:Northern Ireland Mast Height: 141.7m ITV Region: Ulster (UTV) Aerial Height: 512m UHF Tx Number: 10700

It has since been made public that the current transmitter mast (152.5 m) at Divis will be removed and replaced by a brand new guyed steel mast (192.7 m). This means for a period of time there will be two broadcast masts at the site in preparation for the digital switchover in the Ulster region in March 2013.

By way of its extensive transmitter bases, Divis contributes significantly to the telecommunications network for much of Northern Ireland.

Analogue television services broadcast on the following channel numbers:

All of the above channels, except TG4, broadcast at a power of 500 kW. As well as providing direct reception for most TV viewers in Northern Ireland, all the other analogue transmitters in the province source their output, either directly or indirectly, from Divis. TG4, a channel operated by a state-owned body of the Republic of Ireland, is broadcast at a very low power and not relayed to any other transmitters. Channel 5 is broadcast from the nearby Black Mountain transmitting station.

Digital television services broadcast on the following channel numbers, and with the following powers:

FM radio service broadcast on the following frequencies and with the following powers:

External links

Coordinates: 54°36′27″N 6°0′34″W / 54.6075°N 6.00944°W / 54.6075; -6.00944

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