Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Remotes at the Ready as Village Prepares for a Brave New World; Connection to Sky and Cable TV on Way

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Remotes at the Ready as Village Prepares for a Brave New World; Connection to Sky and Cable TV on Way

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanne Butcher

AHISTORIC Northumberland village is being catapulted into the digital age.

For 50 years, residents in the Grade II listed cottages of Blanchland, near Consett on the Northumberland-Durham border, have relied on a single, unreliable television aerial set up in nearby woods.

But now, they will be thrust into the 21st century as they connect to Sky and cable TV for the first time.

The technology is being installed ahead of the analogue TV switch-off next year. Since the mid-50s, residents have been banned from putting up their own TV aerials or dishes on their 12th and 18th century homes.

It means the unique village, whose 150 tenants still rent from a landlord in a feudal system harking back 300 years, has remained almost untouched by modern technology.

"At the moment, the whole village's TV goes off if the weather is bad," said Alice Ellison, Blanchland's parish council clerk.

When we had the snow, no one could get a signal."

Estate landlord, the Lord Crewe Trust, is currently installing the six satellite dishes which will connect residents to Sky, Freeview, Freesat and cable channels for the first time.

Rooftop receivers must be hidden from view to comply with English Heritage restrictions on the Grade I, Grade II * and Grade II listed buildings.

And - thanks to the village's rich history as a Medieval monastery - every hole sunk to lay new cables needs to be overseen by a professional archeologist.

Adapting to the modern world can be a challenge, admitted Mrs Ellison, 63, who lives with husband George, 69, in a 12th century silversmith's workshop complete with 4ft thick stone walls and original smelting fireplace.

While all the houses in the village have access to broadband and most have central heating, there's still no gas connection and you have to drive miles for a mobile phone signal.

"But there is quite a buzz in the village these days," added Mrs Ellison. …

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