Memories of working with my Dad


So my Dad had his own business when I was growing up. Tuckwell Cable Vision Enterprises. He worked for the British Telecom and left to start his own business. Inspired by a cable television system he installed in our village he set up on his own to bring TV signal to other villages in the highlands.

 

This was back in the late 70s and many villages did not receive Television signal. Our village North Kessock was no exception shielded from the local transmitter by the hills behind.

 

Dad came up with a plan to put an Ariel on the hill with good TV signal and through a distribution network of cables and amplifiers pipe the signal down to all the villagers. A lot of work, cables and amplifiers gave North Kessock 3 channels to watch. My claim to fame is pulling the main feed cable under the newly built A9 dual carriageway. A small child size pipe  carried the Drumsmittal burn under the road. A lot of head scratching on how to get the cable to the other side till I piped up “I’ll crawl through it”. Wet and muddy I appeared from the other side triumphant with cable  in hand.  

Dad went on to do other systems all over the highlands bringing TV to places that could not get a signal.

 

Boxes of equipment would arrive at the house all the time. Mainly amplifiers and reels of cable. One package I clearly remember arrived containing what appeared to the giant metal flower petals.

 

I was set to work with the petals, a bag of nuts and bolts and a spanner. The result was a 1.8 meter diameter satellite dish. Massive by today's Sky and Freesat offerings. We sunk a metal pole in the garden concreted it in and along with a polar mount, a receiver and LNB we were one of the first to have satellite TV. The polar mount had a linear actuator that would rotate the dish and point to different satellites.

This became a new way of bringing TV to remote locations and providing much needed extra channels. One I do remember helping to install was on the roof of a nightclub in Inverness.

 

The client wanted to play music videos via Music Box, a channel that I think pre dated MTV or was the European version. This was a large parabolic dish made from fibreglass with a copper coating. The focus point for the LNB was towards the bottom rather than in the center.  It looked a bit odd as it stood almost vertical to aim the signal at the LNB.

 

In addition to TV my dad also specialised in intercom and background music systems. We would travel all over the highlands bringing music to pubs, hotels and supermarkets. 

I remember not long after I passed my driving test being sent to Portree on Skye with the mission to install an intercom system in the local supermarket. Having the keys to the van and a tank of diesel gave me new sense of freedom and we were now multitasking. I had a great day spent with a friend driving to Skye and installing the system.  2 core wire to each till and then back to the main back office.

 

This carried on and when dad went on holiday I spent a few days in the Kingsmills hotel in Inverness. We had wired in a TV system to each room the week before. What was left to do was to add a new TV to each room.  My job was to un box , add a plug (TV's came without a plug), make a coax lead add batteries to the remote and tune in over 60 TV's before carrying them to each each room and testing. It was a great little job and I was a dab hand at manually tuning in the 4 channels by the time I finished.

 

When I went off to university in Aberdeen I would carry on helping out Dad during the holidays. Although one job I remember doing during term time. Dad had won the job to put Tv signal to each unit in the new Bon Accord shopping center. Dad brought down all the bits needed including lots of cable drums, plans and explained what needed done. Myself and some University friends made quick work of running in all the cables and getting the system ready for my Dad to come back and commission it before handing it over. We were under strict instruction not to crawl along the cable trays hanging from the ceiling. Instead use the scaffold trolley climbing up and down and moving a couple of meters at a time.  This was soon abandoned in favour of crawling in the cable trays. As it was the weekend there were few people working on site and we were skinny students.  It was a great couple of weekends spent working with my friends and sharing how I worked with my Dad, They were happy for the experience and the additional beer money.

I did help out Dad with other jobs on and off after I graduated up till he retired a few years ago. It was good fun and he loved his job, he got to travel all over the highlands and islands and met so many interesting people. 

 

Looking back I am glad I had the opportunity to work with him. At the time I probably did not appreciate it enough having other plans for my working life.  I realise now loving your job is something to aspire for.

 

Anyway Dad wrote a book about his experiences.  Its full of pictures and stories of all the places he worked, so if you want to know more check out his book here.  A massive fanfare goes off back in North Kessock every time a copy of his book is sold.

 

I have had some positive comments about my ramblings this week and I really appreciate it.  I started this blog as part of my CodeClan Journey and now that has finished for some reason I feel the need to keep it going.  I really enjoy spending the week planning and thinking of something (this week especially) to write about so Im keeping going.  Thanks for reading and your support. Big Thumbs up!

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