Emley Moor transmitting station

The Emley Moor transmitting station[1] is a telecommunications and broadcasting facility on Emley Moor,[1] 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the village centre of Emley,[n 1] in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England.

Arqiva Emley Moor Tower
Emley Moor transmitting station (West Yorkshire)
Tower height319 m (1,047 ft)
Coordinates53.611944°N 1.664444°W / 53.611944; -1.664444
Grid referenceSE222128
BBC regionBBC Yorkshire
ITV regionITV Yorkshire
Local TV serviceLocal TV Leeds

It is made up of a 1,047 ft (319 m)[1] concrete tower and apparatus that began to transmit in 1971. It is protected under UK law as a Grade II listed building. It is the tallest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom,[1][2] and 25th tallest tower in the world.[1] It was the seventh tallest freestanding structure and was fourth tallest tower in the European Union before Brexit.[1] When built it was the sixth tallest freestanding structure in the world after the Ostankino Tower, the Empire State Building, 875 North Michigan Avenue (known as The John Hancock Center), the Berliner Fernsehturm and Tokyo Tower.[3]

The tower's current official name, The Arqiva Tower, is shown on a sign beside the offices at the base of the tower, but it is commonly known just as "Emley Moor Mast".[1]

In 2021, the antenna was removed due to technical errors and it was replaced by a shorter antenna of 11m but the structure still remains the tallest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom.


Emley Moor has been a transmission site since the earliest days of commercial television in the UK. The present concrete tower is the third antenna support structure to have occupied the site.

The first permanent transmitter built there was for ITV, covering much of the north of England. It had a 443 feet (135 m) lattice tower, which provided limited coverage. This original 443-foot (135 m) lattice tower was erected in 1956 to provide Independent Television broadcasts to the Yorkshire area. It entered service on 3 November 1956, transmitting Granada Television programmes on weekdays, and ABC TV programmes at weekends.

Second mast and collapse

In 1964, in anticipation of colour PAL transmissions set to begin in 1966, the original 443 feet lattice tower was replaced by a taller 1,265 feet (385.5 m) guyed mast, identical to the structure at Belmont transmitting station in Lincolnshire, at 53.612700°N 1.666078°W / 53.612700; -1.666078 (see map on mb21 - The Transmission Gallery). The dismantled lattice tower was rebuilt at Craigkelly transmitting station.[4] Yorkshire Television commenced broadcasting from the Emley Moor transmitter following the reorganisation of the ITV franchises on 29 July 1968.

The guy-supported tubular mast was constructed from curved steel segments to form a 9 feet (2.75 m) diameter tube, 902 feet (275 m) long, and was surmounted by a lattice section 351 feet (107 m) tall, and a capping cylinder, bringing the total height to 1,265 feet (385.5 m). 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.

Its ropes weighed 85 long tons (86 t), made by British Ropes, with steel from Steel, Peech and Tozer of Templeborough in southern Yorkshire. The column weighed 210 long tons (210 t) and had 375 segments, with steel from United Steel Companies at Scunthorpe in northern Lincolnshire.[5]

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 the following in the station's log book, demonstrating that failure of the structure was completely unexpected:

  • Day [shift]: Lee, Caffell, Vander Byl [surnames]
  • 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 [shift]: Glendenning, Bottom, Redgrove [surnames]
  • 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 the roof of a local church[6] 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, 200 feet (61 m) 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 669 feet (204 m) mast was erected in under 28 days at a cost of £100,000. This mast could hold only one set of antennae, 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 299 feet (91 m) 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 long tons (150 t) 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.[7]

New tower

After the setting up of temporary masts, erection of the current concrete tower began in 1969. It was not built on the site where the original mast had stood, but slightly to the south-east at 53.612056°N 1.664390°W / 53.612056; -1.664390. UHF (625-line colour) transmissions commenced on 21 January 1971, and the older VHF (405-line black and 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, 902 feet (275 m) tall, constructed of reinforced concrete, and is topped by a 180 feet (55 m) steel lattice mast which carries the antennae.


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),[1] 66 feet (20 m) taller than The Shard. 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 11,000 long tons (11,200 t). 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 was an observation area off the main road that runs past it, but as of 25 February 2018, this seems to be closed.[8] The tower has a top-floor interior equipment area at a height of 1,083 feet (330 m), which is accessible to people.[9]

The tower at night

In 2002, English Heritage granted the tower Grade II listed building protection under UK law, being the lowest and most common of three categories, for meeting its criteria of significant architectural or historic interest.[2][1]


The tower is currently owned by Arqiva, previously the Independent Broadcasting Authority Engineering section, privatised as NTL Broadcast.

Broadcast details

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 3,900 square miles (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).

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 located to the southwest and west-northwest, 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 powerful signal.

Repairs and alterations

Over the years, the concrete structure has been updated to reflect the changing nature of communications and technology. At the top and bottom of the tower, supporting structures have been attached to accommodate dishes and aerials.

The BBC reported in July 2006 that for up to two weeks, it would broadcast analogue and digital signals at a lower power than usual, or shut down between 09:00 and 15:00 BST on weekdays from late July until 4 August, to allow aircraft warning lights to be fitted and repairs carried out. Repairs were estimated to affect around five million homes; however, a spokesperson for National Grid Wireless announced that the work had been scheduled around major events.[10]

Digital UK reported in April 2010 that the transmitter would undergo work in preparation for the digital switchover (DSO) in 2011. Disruption to some or all Freeview services was expected to last for around two months, during which time a reserve transmitter would continue to broadcast the five main analogue channels.[11] The work was then reported to be continuing into September due to "poor weather conditions and complex engineering issues".

In March 2018, a temporary 1,063 ft (324 m) mast was erected so that work could be undertaken on the main tower's transmitting arrays without interrupting transmissions.[12]

Channels listed by frequency

Emley Moor's distinctive tapering form on the moorland

Analogue radio (FM)

frequency kW[13] service
105.1 MHz 2.55 Capital Yorkshire
106.2 MHz 2.35 Heart Yorkshire

Digital radio (DAB)

frequency block kW[13] operator
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

Analogue television

At Emley Moor, BBC Two analogue closed on 7 September 2011, and ITV Yorkshire temporarily moved onto its frequency at the time to allow the BBC A MUX to launch in its place. The remaining four analogue services closed on 21 September 2011, when the remaining digital multiplexes were allowed to transmit with increased power.

frequency UHF kW service
599.25 MHz 37 870 Channel 5
631.25 MHz 41 870 Channel 4
655.25 MHz 44 870 BBC One
679.25 MHz 47 870 ITV Yorkshire
711.25 MHz 51 870 BBC Two


Below is a list of transmitters that relay Emley Moor.

Digital television

transmitter kW BBC-A BBC-B D3&4 SDN ARQ-A ARQ-B Local Pol. A.G.
Addingham 0.005 43 46 40 V B K
Armitage Bridge 0.002 32 35 34 V A K
Batley 0.003 32 35 34 V A K
Beecroft Hill 0.2 37 45 42 39 V B K
Blackburn in Rotherham 0.002 40 46 43 V B K
Bradford West 0.003 39 45 42 V B K
Brockwell 0.002 45 39 42 V B K
Calver Peak 0.05 45 39 42 V B K
Chesterfield 0.4[r 1] 31 29 37 43 46 40 V K
Cleckheaton 0.002 29 37 31 V A K
Conisbrough 0.002 40 46 43 V B K
Cop Hill 0.2 25 28 22 V A K
Copley 0.002 29 37 31 V A K
Cornholme 0.008 32 35 34 V A K
Cowling 0.003 42 49 45 V B K
Cragg Vale 0.005 32 35 34 V A K
Cullingworth 0.003 39 45 42 V B K
Dronfield 0.002 39 45 42 V B K
Edale 0.002 40 46 43 V B K
Elland 0.002 32 35 34 V B K
Grassington 0.012 23 26 30 V A K
Hagg Wood 0.007 39 45 42 V B K
Halifax 0.1 24 27 21+ V A K
Hasland 0.002 32 35 34 V A K
Headingley 0.002 32 35 34 V A K
Hebden Bridge 0.05 25 28 22 V A K
Heyshaw 0.1 39 45 42 V B K
Holmfield 0.004 29 37 31 V A K
Holmfirth 0.005 32 35 34 V A K
Hope 0.002 28 25 22 V A K
Idle 0.05 23 30 26 32 35 34 V A K
Keighley 2 40 46 43 29 31 37 V K
Keighley Town 0.002 23 29 26 V A K
Kettlewell 0.026 42 39 45 V B K
Longwood Edge 0.008 29 37 31 H A K
Luddenden 0.012 40 46 43 V B K
Lydgate 0.002 21 27 24 V A K
Millhouse Green 0.002 32 35 34 V A K
Oughtibridge 0.008 23 30 26 V A K
Oxenhope 0.04 25 28 22 V A K
Primrose Hill 0.006 40 46 43 V B K
Ripponden 0.012 32 35 34 V A K
Shatton Edge 0.2 32 35 34 V A K
Sheffield 1[r 2] 27 21+ 24 42 45 39 35 V K
Skipton 2 49 42 45 V B E
Skipton Town 0.003 24 21+ 27 V A K
Stocksbridge 0.002 40 46 43 V B K
Sutton-in-Craven 0.002 23 30 26 V A K
Tideswell Moor 0.05 40 46 43 V B K
Todmorden 0.1 39 42 45 V B K
Totley Rise 0.016 33 48 36 V A K
Walsden 0.01 40 46 43 V B K
Walsden South 0.002 32 35 34 V A K
Wharfedale 0.4 25 28 22 V A K
Wheatley 0.3 32 35 34 V A K
Wincobank 0.002 29 37 31 V A K
  1. Apart from BBC A, BBC B and Digital 3&4 which transmits at 800 W.
  2. Apart from Local Multiplex which transmits at 400 W.

Other structures of comparable height

Taller structures
  • It is shorter than Skelton transmitting station in Cumbria, a guyed mast, which at 1,198 feet (365 m) is the highest structure (of any kind) in the UK
    • Skelton is comparable to the:
  • The Ostankino Tower, in Moscow, is the tallest freestanding structure in Europe, at 1,772 feet (540 m).
  • The Kyiv TV Tower is the next-tallest freestanding structure in Europe at 1,263 feet (385 m)
  • The Riga radio and TV tower follows at 1,209 feet (368.5 m);
Smaller structures
  • It is 66 feet (20 m) taller than The Shard in London, which is the next-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom;
  • It is 312 feet (95 m) taller than One Canada Square by Canary Wharf, London, Britain's second tallest building;
  • Sint-Pieters-Leeuw Tower in Belgium is 991 feet (302 m);
  • The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France is 984 feet (300 m), plus a 79-foot (24 m) antenna;

See also


  1. "Emley Moor Mast". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Huddersfield: Reach plc. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  2. "How TV transmitters transformed and towered over the UK". Ofcom.org.uk. Ofcom. Archived from the original on 1 August 2011.
  3. "Diagrams - SkyscraperPage.com". skyscraperpage.com. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  4. "TheBigTower Craigkelly Transmitter". www.thebigtower.com. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  5. Times Friday 10 September 1965, page 9
  6. https://tx.mb21.co.uk/emley/eyewitness/emley_moor-kh-a15.jpg
  7. Senior, Steve. "The fall and rise of Emley Moor - Emley Moor Mk2 lives!". mb21.co.uk. mb21 - UK Broadcast Transmission. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  8. "Emley Moor transmitting station". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  9. "Dewsbury mum-of-two wins trip up Emley Moor mast after being named unsung hero". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Huddersfield: Reach plc. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  10. "Transmitter work affects millions". BBC News. 25 July 2006. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  11. "I receive my TV signal from the Emley Moor transmitter - why are my TV services experiencing interruptions?". help.DigitalUK.co.uk. Digital UK. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  12. Himelfield, Dave (12 April 2019). "Where work on Emley Moor Mast and the second temporary mast is up to". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Huddersfield: Reach plc. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  13. Radio Listeners Guide 2010
  • Bartak, A. J. J. (February 1972). "The new tower for the Independent Television Authority at Emley Moor, Yorkshire". The Structural Engineer. Institution of Structural Engineers. 50 (2): 67–80.
  1. It lies in OS grid square SE221899
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