Above: The old Peterborough mast in June 2004.  Click here for enlarged 1024x768 versions (2 images)

THE PETERBOROUGH TRANSMITTER is sited near the village of Morborne in Cambridgeshire and has served its home county and those immediately surrounding since 5 October 1959.

It was originally built and inaugurated as a medium-power installation for the BBC 405-line television network, providing an improved service to viewers who were poorly served by the somewhat distant transmitters at Tacolneston (near Norwich) and Sutton Coldfield (near Birmingham).

The station's other primary duty was the transmission of BBC National FM radio, extended in more recent years to include BBC Radio Cambridgeshire FM, Classic FM and also DAB.

However, at around 10.30pm on the night of Saturday 30 October 2004, just a few weeks after its 45th anniversary, a fire starting at the 80ft level brought the structure crashing to the ground.

This was the third major transmitter mast collapse in the UK, following those occurring at Waltham (just 30 miles north of Peterborough) in November 1966 and Emley Moor in March 1969.

The Peterborough collapse was however the first attributed to fire with much speculation amongst the authorities that the cause was a firework maliciously thrown at the mast.  These views were initially refuted by some members of the fire service, but were shared by local residents who had complained in the past about joy riding and other reckless behaviour on the road passing the transmitter site.  


The old mast alongside the BT Tower




An empty space alongside the BT Tower


The mast collapsed straight down in a 'zig-zag' fashion, folding into two aligned halves with the top of the structure landing alongside the base.  Consequently the fall area of the wreckage was confined to the main transmitter building below, missing the adjacent BT Tower and nearby electricity distribution lines, although the collapse did initially cause a power failure in the area.

Despite the impact, the main transmitter building below remained standing although structurally unsound, with irreparable damage to the transmission equipment it housed.

Within 24 hours of the collapse, NTL Broadcast (now Arqiva) were the first to restore service with the transfer of Classic FM and Digital One DAB transmissions to their medium-wave radio site at Gunthorpe, just north of Peterborough.

Crown Castle UK (the site operator at the time) gradually restored transmissions of BBC National FM, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire FM and BBC DAB (all at reduced power) at the Peterborough site within a few days of the collapse.  This involved utilising the neighbouring BT Tower.

An area of land immediately opposite the Crown Castle UK site, on the north-side of Morborne Hill, was also acquired as a temporary site and used for the placement of further installations, mainly by mobile phone operators.




Over the following winter months there was little visible change on site, with the mast wreckage remaining undisturbed whilst the investigation into the collapse continued.  By early 2005, it had more or less been concluded that the fire had resulted from a malicious act, the possibility of the fire starting accidentally having been ruled out.  However, no one was arrested in connection with this.


The following is a summary timeline of the events that have followed so far -

February 2005 


The New Mast stands complete

Construction of the temporary 350ft mast commences on the 'north-side' temporary site




March 2005


Construction of the temporary mast main structure is completed.  Installation of the temporary aerial system proceeds with the aim of providing a full-power service by the Easter weekend, an objective which is successfully achieved.

The mast wreckage is finally removed from the site during the second half of the month.




April 2005


The site buildings are demolished and cleared away.




July 2005


Construction of the new site buildings commence.




August 2005


Construction of the new mast commences where the old mast stood.




January 2006


Construction of new permanent mast completed.




February 2006


New permanent mast enters full service.  Dismantling of temporary mast commences, whilst work on the new site buildings nears completion.



Old Mast Aerials>  Wreckage Index>  Temp Aerials>  Temp Mast>  New Mast>  Site Building>  Portraits>  Landscapes











Upper Band II Aerials


Temporary Aerials


The Temporary Mast


The New Mast

(Before and After)














Wreckage Close-Ups Index


Portraits Index


Miscellaneous Landscapes







The Station Building (From origins to rebuild)



Part One


Part Two






 June 2004 - Before The Collapse


November 2004 - After The Collapse








Part Three


Part Four






March 2005 - Mast Wreckage Removed


Aug/Sept 2005 - Under Construction








Part Five





April 2008 - New Building Completed





Old Mast Aerials>  Wreckage Index>  Temp Aerials>  Temp Mast>  New Mast>  Site Building>  Portraits>  Landscapes


The new Peterborough Mast in January 2006.  Click here for enlarged 1024x768 versions (2 images)




Morborne Hill, Nr Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

Grid Reference:



Arqiva (Legacy: BBC/Crown Castle/NGW)

Ground Height:


ITV Region:


Old Mast Height:


BBC Region:


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UHF Tx Number:










Analogue Television 




Analogue Radio (FM)


















BBC Radio 1:






BBC Radio 2:






BBC Radio 3:






BBC Radio 4:




BBC Radio Cambridgeshire:




classic fm:







Digital Television 



Digital Radio









BBC National (Block 12B)



  Digital One (Block 11D)



 NOW Peterborough (Block 12D)

The Peterborough Collapse at mb21


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