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IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) 'Tale of A Tower' -- Emley Moor

IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) 'Tale of A Tower' -- Emley Moor

On 19 March 1969, a combination of strong winds and the weight of ice that had formed around the top of the mast and on the guy wires brought the Emley Moor transmitter mast crashing down, blacking out TV signals for around 6 million viewers in the Yorkshire area. This is a fascinating IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) documentary produced in the early 1970s telling the story of the tower collapse, the erection of a temporary mast and the rebuilding of the main Emley Moor TV transmitter mast.


Emley Moor working on top of the viewing platform

Emley Moor working on top of the viewing platform

Another day in the office.........

Emley Moor transmitting station is a telecommunications and broadcasting facility on Emley Moor, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Emley, in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, England (national grid reference: SE2219712899). The most visible feature of the structure is its 1,084 feet (330.4 m) tall concrete tower, which is a Grade II listed building. It is the tallest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom, seventh tallest freestanding structure in the European Union, fourth tallest tower in the European Union, and 24th tallest tower in the world.

The tower's current official name, Arqiva Tower, is shown on a sign beside the offices at the base of the tower, but it is commonly known as 'Emley Moor mast'.


  1. Tower height- 330.4 m (1,084 ft).
  2. Coordinates- 53.611944°N 1.664444°W.
  3. Grid reference- SE222128.
  4. Built- 1969-1971.
  5. BBC region- BBC Yorkshire.
  6. ITV region- ITV Yorkshire.
  7. Local TV service- Made in Leeds.


Emley Moor Transmitter Mast at night

The tower at night. Author: Ackers72.

Emley Moor mast at sunset - - 497294

Emley Moor's distinctive tapering form on the moorland. Attribution: Chris Charlesworth.


The present concrete tower is the third antenna support structure to have occupied the site. The original 135-metre (443 ft) lattice tower was erected in 1956; to provide Independent Television broadcasts to the Yorkshire area. It entered service on 3 November 1956, transmitting Granada TV programmes on weekdays, and ABC TV programmes at weekends. In 1964, it was replaced by a taller 385.5 metres (1,265 ft) guyed mast, identical to the structure at Belmont transmitting station in Lincolnshire, at 53.612700°N 1.666078°W (see map on ). The dismantled lattice tower was rebuilt at Craigkelly transmitting station. Yorkshire Television commenced broadcasting from the Emley Moor transmitter following the reorganization of the ITV franchises on 29 July 1968 from YTV's new studios at Kirkstall Road in Leeds.

Some people slammed, mostly by locals; as 'ugly', a 'blot on the landscape', an 'eyesore' and 'grotesque' shortly after it was fist built.

Collapse of second mastEdit

Emley Moor Mast Wreckage

Wreckage of the Emley Moor Mast, which collapsed in March 1969, strewn across fields. Attribution: Gerald England.

Emley Moor has been a transmission site since the earliest days of television. The first permanent transmitter built there was for ITV, covering much of the north of England. It had a 135 metres (443 ft) lattice tower, which provided limited coverage. Its performance was improved in anticipation of colour PAL transmissions in 1966, when a 385 metres (1,263 ft) guy-supported tubular mast was erected. It was constructed from curved steel segments to form a 2.75 metres (9 ft) diameter tube, 275 metres (902 ft) long, and was surmounted by a lattice section 107 metres (351 ft) tall, and a capping cylinder, bringing the total height to 386 metres (1,266 ft). At the time of its construction, it was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world. It was designed by British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC), and manufactured by EMI, and built by J. L. Eve Construction.

The cylindrical steel mast was regularly coated in ice during the winter months, and large icicles formed on the guy wires, placing them under great strain. During winter, ice falling from the guy-wires was common. For this reason, red warning lights on the tower operated when ice was a hazard, and notices were posted on the fence adjacent to Jagger Lane, below the guy wire crossings.

On 19 March 1969, a combination of strong winds and the weight of ice that had formed around the top of the mast and on the guy wires caused the structure to collapse. The duty engineer wrote in the station's log book, demonstrating that failure of the structure was completely unexpected:

  • Day: Lee, Caffell, Vander Byl
  • Ice hazard - Packed ice beginning to fall from mast & stays. Roads close to station temporarily closed by Councils. Please notify councils when roads are safe (!)
  • Pye monitor - no frame lock - V10 replaced (low ins). Monitor overheating due to fan choked up with dust- cleaned out, motor lubricated and fan blades reset.
  • Evening :- Glendenning, Bottom, Redgrove
  • 1,265 ft (386 m) Mast :- Fell down across Jagger Lane (corner of Common Lane) at 17:01:45. Police, I.T.A. HQ, R.O., etc., all notified.
  • Mast Power Isolator :- Fuses removed & isolator locked in the "OFF" position. All isolators in basement feeding mast stump also switched off. Dehydrators & TXs switched off.

Wreckage of the Emley Moor Mast, which collapsed in March 1969, strewn across fields. The collapse left sections of twisted mast strewn over the transmitter site, and across the junction of Common Lane and Jagger Lane, and the surrounding fields. Although a falling stay cable cut through a local church and across the transmitter site buildings, no one was injured. It completely disabled the BBC2 UHF transmitter and the ITV VHF transmitter, leaving several million people without service. BBC1 VHF television transmissions continued from Holme Moss. The Independent Television Authority (ITA) owned a collapsible emergency mast, 61 metres (200 ft) tall, which was moved to Emley from the Lichfield transmitting station so that some service could be restored. ITV signals were restored to 2.5 million viewers within four days. The BBC provided a mobile mast on an outside broadcast van to restore a restricted BBC2 colour service within two days. The ITA bought a larger temporary mast from a Swedish company. A crew of Polish riggers were hired, and a 204 metres (669 ft) mast was erected in under 28 days at a cost of £100,000. This mast could hold only one set of antennas, so many viewers in outlying areas still could not receive colour programmes. The taller mast was brought into service on 16 April. Some weeks later, the BBC erected a 91 metres (299 ft) mast, improving coverage.

The accumulation of ice was believed to have caused the collapse, but a committee of inquiry attributed it to a form of oscillation which occurred at a low but steady wind speed. Modifications, including hanging 150 tons of steel chains within each structure were made to similar masts at Belmont and Winter Hill. None of the modified masts have collapsed.

A section of the collapsed tower was converted for use as a racing control tower at Huddersfield Sailing Club. 

New mastEdit


Emley Moor transmitting station (West Yorkshire). Author: Alan Zomerfeld.

After the temporary masts, erection of the current concrete tower began in 1969. It was not built on the site where the mast had stood, but instead a bit southeast at 53.612056°N 1.664390°W. UHF (625-line colour) transmissions commenced on 21 January 1971, and the older VHF (405-line black & white) system became operational on 21 April 1971. Local residents did not wish to see another mast on Emley Moor, and a departure from usual designs was called for. The new structure consists of a tapered cylindrical pillar, 275 metres (902 ft) tall, constructed of reinforced concrete, and is topped by a 55 metres (180 ft) steel lattice mast which carries the antennas.

It was rumored in the late 1970s that it was some how connected to either the Wartime Broadcasting Service and\or the HANDEL National Attack Warning System. The prior was possible, but the latter was not, as far as anyone can ascertain.

It was accused in the early 1980s of carrying secret government radio messages at or near to 100.5 MHz and 1,255MHz. This was denied at the time.

Listed structure statusEdit

In 2002, English Heritage granted the tower Grade II listed building status for its 'significant architectural or historic interest'.


The structure is a tapered, reinforced concrete tower. It is the tallest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom at a height of 1,084 feet (330 m). Reaching the tower room at the top of the concrete structure at 900 feet (274 m) involves a seven-minute journey by lift. The antenna structure above it is a further 184 feet (56 m) tall. The mast's foundations penetrate 20 feet (6 m) into the ground, and the whole structure, including foundations, weighs 11,200 tonnes. The tower was designed by Arup. When built, it was the third-tallest freestanding structure in Europe, after the Ostankino Tower at 1,772 feet (540 m), and the Fernsehturm Berlin (current height 1,207 feet (368 m)). The top of the tower is 1,949 feet (594 m) above sea level, due to the site's elevated position on the eastern edge of the Pennines. The tower is not open to the public. There is an observation area off the main road that runs past it. The tower has a top-floor interior equipment area at a height of 330 metres (1,083 ft), which is accessible to people.


The tower is currently owned by Arqiva, previously the Independent Broadcasting Authority Engineering privatised as NTL Broadcast. It was original put up by the ITA.

Broadcast detailsEdit

Emley Moor tower broadcasts six digital television multiplexes, three digital radio ensembles, and two independent local radio stations (Capital Yorkshire and Heart Yorkshire), over an area of approximately 10,000 km². It is the main station for 57 relays and repeaters throughout Yorkshire and the surrounding counties. In July 2007, it was confirmed by Ofcom that Emley Moor would remain a B group transmitter after digital switchover (DSO).

Current transmission servicesEdit

Current transmission services.
Frequency MHz. Frequency Block. kW. Operator.
100.5 MHz? . 10? Rumored in the 1990s to be reserved for emergency use and may still be, if it ever was.
105.1 MHz . 2.55 Capital Yorkshire
106.2 MHz . 2.35 Heart Yorkshire
216.928 MHz 11A 10 Sound Digital
222.064 MHz 11D 8.5 Digital One
225.648 MHz 12B 10 BBC National DAB
229.072 MHz 12D 5 Leeds
754.000 MHz 56 5 LTVmux DVB-T
N\A N\A N\A, but probably low Made in Leeds
562.000 MHz 32 54.8 COM7 (ARQ C) DVB-T2
578.000 MHz 34 51.1 COM8 (ARQ D) DVB-T2
634.000 MHz 41 174 PSB3 (BBC B) DVB-T2
658.000 MHz 44 174 PSB2 (D3&4) DVB-T
682.000 MHz 47 174 PSB1 (BBC A) DVB-T
690.000 MHz 48 174 COM6 (ARQ B) DVB-T
714.000 MHz 51 174 COM4 (SDN) DVB-T
722.000 MHz 52 174 COM5 (ARQ A) DVB-T


Emley Moor transmitting station in view 30 7 2016

Emley Moor transmitting station in view 30 7 2016

Emley Moor transmitting station in view 30/7/2016.

The area is important for RF, radio frequency transmission, and from the foot of the structure, both Holme Moss and the Moorside Edge transmitter are visible. They are within a ten-mile (16 km) radius, and are SW and WNW respectively.

Its television coverage area is one of the largest in the UK; covering most of Yorkshire including Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York. Some transmissions can be received in Greater Manchester across the Pennines due to the height of the antenna on the tower and the strong signal.


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