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Photos by mb21, Mike Smith, Mark Carver, Bill Wright and Neil White Page last updated: 2023-07-20
Whitby North Yorkshire
NGR: NZ904113 Maps: Google  Bing (Ord Surv)   Site Height: 59m      Structure Height: 46m
Digital TV:
National Radio:
Local Radio:
Digital Radio:
Comments: Whitby was a TV relay of Bilsdale and a network FM relay of Pontop Pike

Show historic services

The Whitby relay sat right on the edge of East cliff overlooking this attractive and historical Yorkshire seaside town. The site was sandwiched between the ruins of Whitby Abbey and the HM Coastguard station and can be reached by climbing the 199 stone steps which lead to the Abbey and St Mary's Church.

Whitby, despite being on the East coast actually faces due North, and its geography can seem quite confusing without having a map to hand. It is one of the only places where at certain times of the year you can see the sun rise and set over the sea.

This explains why mb21 enthusiasts may have been a little confused when mast spotting in the town. Looking up at the tower the troughs appeared to be facing out to sea, and for a moment you'd have thought they were pointing at Pontop Pike - North towards Newcastle. However they did indeed face West over the Esk valley towards Bilsdale, a transmitter which is visible from much of the high moorland near the coast.

Whitby is one of four transmitters along the Esk valley relaying Bilsdale (the others being Castleton, Limber Hill, and Aislaby). The oldest of the four is Whitby, and although transmissions of 405-line BBC 1 on channel 4 didn't commence until the 10th November 1969, the site makes regular appearances in the Yorkshire TV series Heartbeat! The 405-line service closed on 4th July 1983. UHF TV services commenced in May 1973, with Channel 4 added in August 1984.

BBC FM radio also entered service on 10th November 1969. Radio Cleveland was added in April 1984, Radio 1 from the spring of 1992 and ILR (Yorkshire Coast Radio) from November 1993. The FM radio aerials were re-engineered to mixed (slant) polarisation in 1993.

The Esk valley is a textbook GCSE geography glaciated "U" shaped valley - deep, with steep sides, which can make picking up Bilsdale a difficult task for those living at the bottom. With sweeping curves and numerous feeder valleys reception can be difficult, and even those only a few miles away in nearby Sleights and Briggswath have to use Aislaby for their coverage.

Because of its precarious location on the cliff edge, the mast shown on this page has now been replaced by a new mast at a site further inland called Whitby Business Park, and this mast has now been dismantled and removed.

Four possible new sites were originally identified and proposed as replacements. These were put to a public vote and as a result the new mast has now been built behind the town's business park.

From 21-May-2007 Whitby viewers were asked to retune their televisions to a set of temporary frequencies in preparation for the opening of the replacement service from Whitby Business Park, located further inland.

TV transmissions from this site were finally switched off on 16-Oct-2007.

Early June 2007: Two sets of TV services were then running and there were messages on the main Whitby channels instructing viewers to retune to a set of temporary channels until the site changeover was completed by 6-Aug-2007.

Thanks to Neil White for this photo.

It is now April 2008 and the mast has been removed...

Neil says: On the day of my visit there where two workmen with a soil turning machine putting the final touches into the grassed area at the front old building. The clerk did spend some time explaining that during the demolition work the engineers used fall arrest harnesses during every stage of the works. Also the coastguard station at the rear of the site is also abandoned, as it is feared that it too will fall down the cliff.

Remains of a stay anchor block by the coastal footpath.
Picture by Martin Brown in August 2015.

The year was 1969

BBC Tees coverage area map

Aislaby | Bilsdale mk1 | Castleton | Limber Hill | Whitby Business Park

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