Telecommunications towers in the United Kingdom

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Telecommunications towers in the United Kingdom are operated mainly by Arqiva.[1] Arqiva operates the transmitters for UK terrestrial TV and most radio broadcasting, both analogue and digital. BT also operates a number of telecommunications towers in the UK.


BT's towers were, at one time, the backbone for a national line-of-sight microwave telecommunications network. One of the most famous of these is the BT Tower in London. However, the introduction of fibre optic network technology rendered these microwave towers largely obsolete for their original purpose. Nowadays they tend to be used mainly for relatively low capacity fixed links to customer sites and mobile telephony.

List of BT towers[edit]

BT Group owns at least 200 radio masts and towers in Britain.[2] Of these, fourteen are reinforced concrete towers. The rest are of steel lattice construction.

Seven of the fourteen are of similar design, known as the 'Chilterns' type, after the first one which was built at Stokenchurch on the Chiltern Hills. They are identical except for their heights, which vary considerably. They are at:

Tower Location Coordinates Height Year of built
Stokenchurch BT Tower Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire 51°39′55″N 0°55′26″W / 51.665388°N 0.923827°W / 51.665388; -0.923827 (Stokenchurch BT Tower) 120 m ( 394 ft)
Charwelton BT Tower Charwelton, Northamptonshire 52°12′08″N 1°15′04″W / 52.202327°N 1.251020°W / 52.202327; -1.251020 (Charwelton BT Tower) 118 m ( 387 ft)
Pye Green BT Tower Pye Green, Staffordshire 52°43′43″N 2°01′11″W / 52.728687°N 2.019589°W / 52.728687; -2.019589 (Pye Green BT Tower) 96.9 m ( 318 ft)
Wotton-under-Edge BT Tower Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire 51°38′58″N 2°18′14″W / 51.649319°N 2.304024°W / 51.649319; -2.304024 (Wotton-under-Edge BT Tower) 76.2 m ( 250 ft)
Heaton Park BT Tower Manchester 53°32′23″N 2°15′19″W / 53.539611°N 2.255223°W / 53.539611; -2.255223 (Heaton Park BT Tower) 72.54 m ( 238 ft)
Sutton Common BT Tower Macclesfield, Cheshire 53°12′22″N 2°06′03″W / 53.206135°N 2.100711°W / 53.206135; -2.100711 (Sutton Common BT Tower) 72 m ( 238 ft)
Tinshill BT Tower Cookridge area, Leeds, West Yorkshire 53°51′17″N 1°36′43″W / 53.854752°N 1.612009°W / 53.854752; -1.612009 (Tinshill BT Tower) 60.96 m ( 200 ft)

The other seven are:

Tower Location Coordinates Height Year of built
Emley Moor Tower Huddersfield, West Yorkshire 53°36′43″N 1°39′52″W / 53.612056°N 1.664414°W / 53.612056; -1.664414 (Emley Moor Tower) 330.5 m ( 1084 ft) 1970
London BT Tower London 51°31′17″N 0°08′20″W / 51.5215°N 0.1389°W / 51.5215; -0.1389 (London BT Tower) 188.4 m ( 618 ft) 1964
Birmingham BT Tower Birmingham 52°29′01″N 1°54′15″W / 52.483522°N 1.904278°W / 52.483522; -1.904278 (Birmingham BT Tower) 152 m ( 499 ft) 1965
Morborne Hill BT Tower Peterborough, Cambridgeshire 52°30′27″N 0°20′41″W / 52.507618°N 0.344617°W / 52.507618; -0.344617 (Peterborough-Morborne Hill BT Tower) 98.75 m ( 324 ft)
Purdown BT Tower Bristol 51°29′07″N 2°33′46″W / 51.485244°N 2.562717°W / 51.485244; -2.562717 (Purdown BT Tower) 70.1 m ( 230 ft) 1970
Tolsford Hill BT Tower Folkestone, Kent 51°06′27″N 1°05′05″E / 51.107467°N 1.084789°E / 51.107467; 1.084789 (Tolsford Hill BT Tower) 67.36 m ( 221 ft)
Turners Hill BT Tower Dudley, West Midlands 52°29′47″N 2°02′56″W / 52.496438°N 2.049005°W / 52.496438; -2.049005 (Turners Hill BT Tower) 60.96 m ( 200 ft)

Mobile phone[edit]

Below the level of the major telecommunications towers, mobile phone operators run roughly 23,000 base stations. In urban areas, these are almost all rooftop sites or microcells, but in rural areas these are often on towers, frequently owned by BT or Arqiva. The Sitefinder database is an incomplete list of mobile phone base stations in the UK.[3] Since the discontinuation of the ofcom sitefinder website in 2015, Estate Systems Ltd have developed a comprehensive site[4] for use by the public and Mobile Operators which locates masts within the UK and Northern Ireland.


There are also numerous military communications sites in the UK, operated by various wings of the armed forces. Many of the masts and towers at military sites are now marketed to commercial site sharers by Arqiva.


The first UK microwave relay towers were built in about 1952 for a television link between Manchester and Kirk o'Shotts near Glasgow. A chain of 14 towers, known as "backbone", running from the Chilterns to Scotland and intended primarily for national defence in the Cold War, was first mentioned publicly in the 1955 Defence White Paper. It announced "The Post Office are planning to build up a special network, both by cable and radio, designed to maintain long distance communication in the event of an attack". It wasn't actually built until the early 1960s, by which time the original Backbone concept had become absorbed into a much larger microwave network built for a mixture of civil and defence traffic including voice, telegraphy, television and radar.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "News :: Competition Commission approves Arqiva and NGW merger". DTG. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
  2. ^ Crampsey, D. and Fase, M.L. External Engineering, British Telecommunications Engineering, Vol. 10 Part 1 (April 1991), p.13
  3. ^ "Ofcom | Frequently Asked Questions". 2010-06-21. Archived from the original on 2014-03-21. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
  4. ^ From Ofcom:The Sitefinder website has now been discontinued. We no longer receive data updates from mobile operators on their mast locations. As a result, the Sitefinder data was several years old and could be very misleading.
  5. ^ "RSG: Features: The Towers of Backbone". Retrieved 2015-11-19.

External links[edit]