Think you know what the tallest structure in the UK is? Think again!

What’s the tallest free-standing structure in the UK? You might think it is the Shard skyscraper in London, but the Emley Moor Television Tower in Yorkshire holds the record at 328m. By heck, that’s a big ‘un! The Shard is a measly 310m.

Standing high over Emley Moor and visible for miles around, there has been a TV tower on the site since 1956. The original tower was 125m, but its replacement, built in 1966, was actually even taller than the present tower. At a whopping 385m if anything it was too tall to cope with harsh Yorkshire winters. Built of curved steel segments and stabilised by huge steel ropes, ice would coat the tower’s steel segments and icicles form on the steel ropes, which would then break off and fall to the ground. Driving near the tower was quite hazardous! In 1969, after standing for only three years, the tower succumbed to the rigours of the Yorkshire weather and blew down in high winds, the weight of the ice frozen to the tower and ropes causing it to collapse. Although no one was injured in the collapse, debris from the tower was strewn across the local area and millions of people were left without television reception until temporary masts were erected.

Work on a new tower began later in 1969 and the new structure, built of concrete that tapers up to a steel mast, went into operation in 1971. Over 50 years later, it now ranks as the 25th tallest tower in the world as well as being the UK’s tallest free-standing structure. When built it was the sixth tallest freestanding structure in the world. It is so tall that the weather at the top of the mast is often different to ground level and it takes seven minutes by lift to reach the microwave link room at the top of the concrete tower. The tower transmits TV signals into homes across the north, including Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford and Doncaster. In recognition of its iconic design and imposing presence perched atop the Pennines it was Grade II listed in 2002.

Although the tower itself is not open to the public it worth a visit to see this Yorkshire landmark close up. The iconic tower is captured in our Emley Moor print by OR8 Design, available in sizes from A4 to A1.

Emley Moor


Main image: © Copyright Tim Marchant and licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.