The major transmitting mast at
Morborne near Peterborough caught fire and collapsed on the evening of
Saturday 30th October 2004. This left 1.3 million people without
FM radio from BBC Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4, Classic FM and BBC Radio
Cambridgehire as well as putting off the air all the local and national
DAB digital radio multiplexes and some mobile phone services.
By around 5pm the following day, Sunday 31st October 2004, NTL had been
able to provide an alternative sustaining low power service for Classic
FM (101.9 MHz) and all DAB digital radio from their Gunthorpe mast, just
north of Peterborough.
Crown Castle International, who own the Peterborough radio mast and who
provide transmissions for BBC FM radio and DAB digital radio were unable
to get the BBC back on the air so quickly and were battling to provide
an alternative solution during Monday 1st November and hoped to get
some services back on air by Tuesday 2nd or Wednesday 3rd
November. FM and DAB services were eventually restored from
temporary aerials mounted on the concrete BT tower at reduced
power. NTL followed the CTI move and subsequently put their DAB
and FM services on the same BT tower at a reduced power of 5kw,
compared to the usual e.r.p. of 40kW.
mast collapsed across the bulding housing the transmitting equipment
photo: Peterborough Today
This is the story
from the BBC website as reported on Monday 1st November 2004:
| Some FM radio services in
parts of the east of England have been affected after a transmitter
The 580ft mast at Morborne,
Peterborough, Cambs, caught fire on Saturday, collapsing onto
transmitter buildings and neighbouring fields. Radios 1,2, 3 and 4,
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC digital radio and Classic FM were all
affected, along with some mobile telephone reception.
think the fire may have been deliberate and appealed for
witnesses. Gary Martin of Cambs Police,
said: "We have a number of theories and we're not resting on any
"But we need to know - was there anyone suspicious in the area or were
there any bangs or fireworks or rockets flying through the air?
anyone seen where the tower was ablaze - was it at the top of the tower,
the middle or the bottom of the tower?"
Following the fire, an estimated 1.3m radio listeners were without an
FM service. Broadcasters are working to
restore service and it is unclear how many areas are still affected.
The transmitter, which is
owned by Crown Castle International, covers Cambs, and parts of Lincs,
Northants, Leicestershire, Beds, Bucks and west Norfolk.
BBC photograph of the collapsed mast
|This story from
|Radio and mobile communication
services have been heavily disrupted throughout the city and the
surrounding Greater Peterborough area, following a fire at a
transmitter over the weekend, writes Bob Hillier.
A 580 ft
radio communications mast at Morborne, Peterborough, Cambs
collapsed on Saturday night after catching fire. A police
investigation into the cause of the incident is up and
Local BBC Radio
Station Radio Cambridgeshire, together with some local
commercial stations and national Stations BBC Radio 1,2 3 and
4 and Classic FM, have all had their FM broadcasts affected
in the area.
Some digital radio
and mobile phone services have also been hit. The mobile phone
company T-Mobile has stated that 63 of its sites in the
Region have been affected.
Scenes of crime
police officers have attended the scene and will be continuing
with their enquiries today. They are appealing for witnesses
to the incident.
Inspector Gary Martin of Cambridgeshire Police said: "It is
too early to establish the cause of the fire and it would be
inappropriate at this time to speculate on its origin. Nothing is
ruled out at the moment. I am again appealing for anyone who has any
information on the cause of fire to come forward."
bosses have asked their listeners to tune into medium wave
broadcasts if available. It isn't known at this stage how long
it will be before the transmitter will be back in service.
Update -David Martin, editor at
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, is hopeful that the station's FM
broadcasts will be back on the Peterborough airwaves by early tomorrow
He said: "By nightfall we expect a mast in some
shape or form to be erected by Crown Castle International who
own the transmitter. We anticipate our FM programmes will then back by tomorrow (2 November) breakfast time."
This is the story as reported in
FIRE: Mast blaze brings
across the city today woke up to a radio blackout after a 580ft
Firefighters and police officers
were called to the mast at Morborne, near Stilton, Peterborough, at
10.20pm on Saturday, following a fire on the tower which houses
communication equipment worth millions of pounds.
The 200-ton mast, owned by Crown Castle UK, crushed a two-storey
unmanned building, and narrowly missed a road.
Hundreds of thousands of people were without radio services.
David Martin, editor of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, said: "All the main
networks have been affected by this. It's going to cause a huge amount
Mr Martin added BBC Radio Cambridgeshire could be off the air in
Peterborough until Wednesday.
Farmer Nigel Rome, who lives at Manor Farm, Morborne, saw the blaze.
He said: "Our electricity flipped out at about 10.10pm.
"I received a phone call from Crown Castle UK asking if the mast was on
"I looked out of my window and I could see a red glow. When I got up
there it was already down."
A total of 20 firefighters from Dogsthorpe and Yaxley battled for five
hours to bring the blaze under control, pumping 2,000
gallons of water on to the blaze from the turntable ladder.
Today the blackened, twisted remains of the tower were still on top of
the building, which fire crews said was close to collapsing under the
Firefighters and police officers are keeping an open mind about how the
tower collapsed, but senior firefighter Ray McDonnell, from Dogsthorpe,
said it was unlikely the tower had been targeted by arsonists.
He said: "We think the fire started about 80ft up the tower.
"If that's the case there's enough plastic insulation material to cause
the severe heat which would compromise the stability of the tower."
Mr McDonnell said the mast had collapsed in a "zig-zag" fashion,
missing a country road and the nearby 300ft concrete British
Stephen Arnold, a spokesman from Crown Castle UK, said the mast
broadcast BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as BBC Radio Cambridgeshire,
Classic FM, and a number of other commercial and digital radio stations
The engineers' priority was to restore services – which they hoped to
do in the next 24 hours.
This morning he said: "Today we will commence installation of an
emergency transmitter on site.
"The site is also used by a number of mobile telecoms operators."
Land next to the site was being made available so temporary
transmitters could be put up to re-establish coverage.
Yesterday, digital versions of Vibe FM, Classic Gold and Hereward FM
• Anyone who was in the Morborne area after 9pm on Saturday and has any
information about the incident, should telephone police on 08454 564564.
01 November 2004
on MB21.co.uk by Mike Brown HERE
the mast looked in 1987, as photographed by Martin Watkins.
radio mast is the tall steel structure in the background and is owned
by Crown Castle International. This mast supported the large
v.h.f. / FM radio aerials for National BBC Radio, v.h.f. / FM aerials
for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire together with aerials for BBC DAB digital
radio. NTL also operate high power v.h.f / FM radio for Classic FM
and DAB digital radio for Independent multiplexes, mobile phone aerials
and microwave linking aerials for various radio services.
shorter concrete tower in the foreground the the adjacent BT (British
Telecom) stucture. (Crown Castle International used this tower to mount
some temporary aerials on to provide DAB coverage while the mast was out
|BELOW: Coverage map
for national radio transmitted from the Peterborough mast (BBC Radio 1,
2, 3, 4 & Classic FM)
|BELOW: Coverage map for
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, showing the coverage from the Peterborough
mast in blue
|BELOW: Coverage plot
for FM radio from the NTL mast at Gunthorpe, from where NTL provided a
temporary FM service for Classic FM together with DAB
transmissions. These temporary transmissions were subsequently
moved to the concrete BT tower. The Classic FM transmitter had an
effective power of 5kW, as opposed to the normal 40