British Telecom

In the high and far off days, oh best beloved, there existed a satellite communication station on a granite peninsula in far off Cornwall. This is its story.

In the high and far off days, oh best beloved, there existed a satellite communication station on a granite peninsula in far off Cornwall. This is its story.

In the 1960s, the General Post Office owned and ran the satellite station at Goonhilly Downs near Helston on the Lizard peninsula, as the UK end of the new trans-Atlantic link. It developed 'Arthur', the world's first parabolic satellite communications antenna. "Arthur" weighed 1,118 tonnes and in 1962 it tracked the first low-orbit telecommunications satellite, 'Telstar', across the sky. 

With the privatisation of the GPO's telephone service in 1982 and transference to British Telecom, the organisation became divided into costs centres – and separated into BT and BT International. The BTI division was responsible for running Goonhilly and subsequently 'Arthur' was joined by 8 other transmission dishes, whereupon the site became a great attraction to visitors to the area – with an educational telecoms exhibition and trips to visit the aerials and wildlife.

in 1983 Roberts Weaver, with Michael Taylor as Principal Designer and Project Manager, were invited to uprate the Operations Control Area (room) to prepare for the many visitors who would be able to view the operations from a glass walled passageway. 

The complete overhaul of BTI's corporate image was in readiness for the separation of BTI in order that their international expertise in satellite technology could be enlarged to a global scale. In preparation, the electronic equipment was branded and production methods developed. It was not to be – and they remained the mainstay of BT's telecoms transmission business and a major source of income.

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