THE DURRIS TRANSMITTER is the UHF main station for Aberdeenshire and the primary UHF main station in North-East Scotland.  Principally, it serves the 100-mile eastern coastal belt from Peterhead in the north to Arbroath in the south.

It is sited near Banchory approximately fifteen miles south-west of Aberdeen, the latter being the main studio base for both the BBC and ITV in North-East Scotland.  As such, Durris is also responsible for off-air programme distribution to other UHF main stations within the region as well as its own dependent relay stations.

Durris also transmits BBC National FM radio as a relay of the Meldrum transmitter and also carries DAB radio services which were launched from here and Meldrum on 18 February 2004.



Durris transmits from a triangular cross-section lattice stayed mast which is 306.6 metres (1006-ft) in height surmounted by the main UHF antenna system which extends the overall height to 322 metres (1056-ft).

It is one of seven lattice stayed structures constructed by the Independent Television Authority (ITA) that were based on a height of around 305 metres (1000-ft), all of which originate from the 405-line VHF era.  Of these, Durris is now the only structure to function as a main UHF transmitter mast.

Of the other six sites incorporating these structures, four of them (Lichfield and Mendlesham, Arfon and Strabane) are not UHF main stations, although the latter two do function as UHF relays.

The remaining two structures at Black Hill and Caldbeck did function as main UHF transmitter masts but both were superceded by new structures with the advent of Digital Switchover.

The Caldbeck mast was dismantled entirely in 2011 whilst the mast at Black Hill will reportedly remain in place at a reduced height for the carriage of radio services, leaving in place just five of the seven structures as originally constructed.














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In preparation for Digital Switchover, the Durris mast was re-engineered during the course of 2008 with the installation of a new reserve UHF aerial system and also the replacement of the main UHF aerial section at the top.

The reserve aerial system, mounted at approximately 274m-290m (900ft-950ft), comprises twelve tiers of circulating panels and was observed as installed in July 2008.

The main UHF aerial at the top, which replaced the original 16m (52ft) GRP-cylinder during the autumn of 2008, comprises a total of nine tiers spaced into a 4-3-2 configuration from top to bottom.

Images of both the original main UHF aerial and the new main and reserve UHF arrays can be seen on the Aerials page.














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The two stages of the Digital Switchover process took place at Durris as follows -

1 September 2010 - Stage 1 (DSO1) 

  • Shutdown of BBC2 analogue on Channel 28
  • Shutdown of Mux1 on Channel 30
  • Launch of PSB1(BBC A) multiplex on Channel 28

15 September 2010 - Stage 2 (DSO2)
















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UHF Coverage Map




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The Durris station was built by the Independent Television Authority as their principal 405-line VHF Band III television transmitter for the North-East Scotland region, an area which the authority had designated as a separate ITV franchise to that of the central lowlands as served by Scottish Television (later STV) from the Black Hill transmitter.

From what would be their second high-power station in Scotland, the authority aimed to cover roughly the 100-mile coastal stretch from Peterhead on the Moray Firth in the north to Arbroath in the south, but also providing improved reception across Dundee and Tayside which was on the extremity of coverage from Black Hill.

The siting of the transmitter would naturally be near Aberdeen, the regional 'capital' and also centrally placed within the service area. The existing BBC Band I television transmitter for the area was located at Meldrum, some fifteen miles to the north of Aberdeen. However, to achieve the desired coverage, especially in the far south towards Dundee, it was necessary for the ITA to locate the station on the south side of Aberdeen, producing a further example of non-adjacent siting with the BBC as seen in North and South-West England.  It was in accordance with these requirements and the need for a location at least 306 metres (1000-ft) above sea level that the site at Durris was selected.

The station was designed to radiate primarily in two directions - north towards Peterhead and south towards Dundee, with very little signal strength needed eastwards towards the nearby coastline or westwards where signals were curtailed by the Grampian Hills.

In the two primary directions, the station delivered a maximum Effective Radiated Power (e.r.p) of 400kW vision and 100kW sound from two vision transmitters rated at an actual power of 4kW and two sound transmitters at 1kW.  Transmissions from the station were on VHF Channel 9.

With Inverness and the Moray Firth considered an essential part of the initial service area and with Durris unable to cover this ground due to the intervening Grampians, the ITA constructed an additional station at Mounteagle, near Inverness, to serve this area.

Both Durris and Mounteagle came into operation with the start of the region's ITV service, provided by Aberdeen-based Grampian Television, on 30 September 1961.

On the whole, the ITA succeeded in achieving its coverage objectives from both stations, however reception of Durris in Dundee remained unsatisfactory creating a situation where the area was now served poorly by two remote transmitters (Durris and Black Hill). To resolve this problem and as part of planning for the UHF network, the ITA constructed the Angus station at Balcalk Hill, near Dundee, to provide improved 405-line VHF coverage and the base for a future UHF main station.

Angus came into operation in its initial capacity as a 405-line VHF station (operating as a relay of Durris) on 13 October 1965.

VHF 405-line transmissions from both Durris and Angus, which otherwise would have probably continued until the final nationwide shutdown in January 1985, were ended prematurely on 9 July 1984, the IBA taking this decision in order to assist engineering work on the replacement of the main UHF aerial at Durris following fire damage the previous January.



When determining a UHF transmitter for Aberdeenshire, it was clear that the chosen site from which both the ITA and BBC would broadcast would need to serve roughly the same area as provided from Durris on VHF (with the exclusion of the Dundee area which would be served by Angus).  The BBC station at Meldrum was disadvantaged by its geographical positioning and typically for a Band I medium-power transmitter utilised a mast no higher than 152m (500ft) in height, adding further to its unsuitability. Durris was therefore the obvious choice for UHF with this almost certainly having been a considered factor when the original VHF station was planned.

With Black Hill chosen as the UHF main station for the central belt, the decision to use Durris for the Aberdeenshire station cemented Scotland as one of three ITA strongholds for UHF main transmitters, the other two regions being Northern and South-West England with both of them also a consequence of the decision by the ITA not to site their VHF stations adjacent to those of the BBC.

Typically, BBC2 was the first UHF transmitter to be established at Durris, coming into regular operation on 29 July 1967, with transmitters for BBC1 and ITV following in July 1971.  Durris also became the base of the ITA's Colour Control Room (CCR) for North-East Scotland.  This would hold responsibility for the remote maintenance of all ITA colour transmitters within the region until its absorption in 1981 into the Regional Operation Centre (ROC) at Black Hill.

Station Signage, Stays & Anchors and Buildings















Images from January 2009


Images from January 2013





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Aerials>  Station Images Index>  Supersize Images>  UHF Coverage Map



Cryne Gorse Road, Durris, Banchory, AB31 6DH

Grid Reference:



Arqiva (Legacy: ITA/IBA/NTL)

Ground Height:


ITV Region:

STV North (Formerly Grampian)

Mast Height:


BBC Region:


Aerial Height: (*)



UHF Tx Number:


(*) Average UHF aerial height above sea level (a.o.d)   







Digital Television  


Analogue Radio (FM)











: Ch/Polarisation/e.r.p







: 28 / H / 100kW 



BBC Radio 1:




: 25 / H / 100kW 



BBC Radio 2:




: 22 / H / 100kW 



BBC Radio 3:




: 23 / H / 50kW 



BBC Radio 4:




: 26 / H / 50kW

BBC Scotland (Aberdeen) :




: 29 / H / 50kW



Northsound 1:










Digital Radio









BBC National (Block 12B)





Digital One (Block 12A)





Switch Aberdeen (11C)







(Shutdown completed 15 September 2010)

Analogue Television 




Digital Television



















: 22 / H / 500kW






: 30 / H / 10kW


: 28 / H / 500kW  






: 34 / H / 10kW


: 25 / H / 500kW 






: 52 / H / 10kW


: 32 / H / 500kW






: 51 / H / 05kW


: 67 / H / 100kW



: 41 / H / 05kW









: 44 / H / 05kW










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