Reported in the News Letter on November 28, 1962: BBC rigger tells of life at the top


What is it like to climb a 500ft high radio and television mast and to find on arrival at the “summit” that it is swaying one foot in either direction?

It is “just part of the job” with Robert Ford, a 41-year-old BBC rigger, who has been climbing the Corporation’s mast at Divis once a week or so for seven years now, checking and servicing aerial equipment.

Bob, who lives at Pond Park, Lisburn, enjoys his climb to the top during the summer, but it is not so nice during the bleak days of winter, for it is cold up there, especially when there is a stiff breeze blowing.

It takes Bob 20 minutes to do the climb, so he has “warmed up”, however cold the day, by the time he has reached the top.

Part of his job is ensuring that the seven lanterns on the mast are in working order, and Bob, who spent some years in the Royal Navy, often has to check wires, adjust stays and ensure that none of the equipment is faulty or suffering from interference.

Why does Bob like his job?

“I enjoy climbing,” he says. “I used to climb pylons when I worked for the Electricity Board for Northern Ireland and scaling a radio mast is no new experience for me.”

Bob is one of three BBC riggers in Northern Ireland – the other two are at Lisnagarvey and Londonderry.