Roof Top Aerials Are Not Necessary 

27 May 2024

Practical advice to televiewers



Portsmouth Evening News masthead

From the Portsmouth Evening News for 14 January 1955

LANDLORDS arbitrarily exercising their rights, exasperate tenants by forbidding the erection of TV aerials on roofs. Owners of property in which they happen to take a pride may be equally exasperated by clusters of ugly excrescencies stabbling [sic] the sky line.

Taking a tolerant view of the action of local authorities in Hampshire in forbidding the erection of outside aerials on council houses, it may be inspired by aesthetic considerations and not prejudice.

Disappointing to those with a pardonable urge to impress the neighbours by displaying a skeleton “H” or “X” that positively shouts: “Look — we’ve got the television!” To judge from those flaunted in areas where they are unnecessary, their publicity value must have gone to the heads of a lot of people.

It is an obsession rather than an established fact that associates an aerial clamped to a chimney as inevitable, for it is then no further removed from earth potential than the ground on which the house stands. The top of a pole in the garden is often a more sensitive position, for it is height above earth that matters.


It is worth bearing in mind that the tilted wire aerial is unobstrusive. It comprises a cable that incorporates sections with certain characteristics stretched at an angle of 45 degrees between a short post in the garden and an upper window. It is highly directional which is useful where there is a local source of interference to be avoided, and can be mounted in a bable [no idea – Ed] under the roof quite inconspicuously if in plane with the transmitting station. It is made in three lengths of varying sensitivity, each compensated to the wave-length to be received.

There is one installed on the roof of Buckingham Palace serving over 50 television sets in use by the Royal Household. It is invisible from the ground.

Where objection is confined to a roof position, a single dipole, or a slightly more sensitive one in the shape of a capital “K,” can be bracketed to the side, or a corner, of the building.

There are few disadvantages in indoor mounting. On the other hand there is complete protection from the weather, a saving in cost of erection and avoidance of proximity to neighbouring aerials — reflections from which often account for ghosted images that give a muddied appearance to faces in close-ups — while to quote an ancient proverb, “what the eye sees not, the heart rues not.”

If space permits, an “H” or an “X” installed in a loft is as effective as one bracketed to a chimney. In cramped conditions, a more compact type is one in the form of an inverted “V” which is directional. It must not be closer to a water-tank or metal piping than six feet.

An indoor aerial, either one with vertical rod for half its length, the other half, set at a right angle, bent, a flexible strip, or two flexible strips, can be mounted inside or outside a wooden window-frame. It would hardly be visible. There are also several makes of windowsill aerials with a number of short rods set at adjustable angles.


The materials used in the construction of houses, except those of metal like the iron girders of ferro-concrete blocks of flats, have little if any effect upon signal strength. This can be demonstrated by changing the position of an indoor aerial from the side nearest the transmitting station to one farthest away with an intervening wall. Experienced installation engineers usually try this out, either because it is more convenient or to avoid interference from domestic electrical appliances.

Simple, relatively cheap, aerials are more efficient than is commonly supposed. Where signals are weak, or there is much local interference, an additional rod that acts as a director, reflector or rejector may be desirable, but even then more elaborate arrays of multi-rods, folded dipoles, etc., are generally preferable.

Where objections to conventional aerials are raised by property owners, dealers should instruct their staffs to carry out tests inside the building. There are numerous positions in which satisfactory reception can be obtained without visible means. The aerial manufacturers’ resources are mines of information on this subject.


You Say

2 responses to this article

Richard 27 May 2024 at 7:20 am

The mysterious “bable” above *might be* gable, it fits in my head…

Jeremy Rogers 27 May 2024 at 10:00 am

Bable is probably supposed to be gable since it is all about roofs.

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