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County Police Communications Mast

Durham

Landscape / Sculpture

While its grade II listing describes it prosaically as a ‘radio mast for the Durham County Police’, this 50 metre high communication tower had to occupy a sensitive site overlooking the skyline’s more famous occupant, Durham Cathedral.

The response of Sir Jack Zunz and his team was a high-quality example of pre-cast, reinforced concrete demonstrating elegant brutalist sculptural qualities, while its slender spire minimised the impact on views of its Norman neighbour. Pre-cast and erected in five sections to avoid the need for wind protection during construction, its tripod design also served to reduce bending which would distort its narrow radio frequencies.

Completed in 1968 to a design of Ove Arup, it was a product of Arup’s ‘total design’ philosophy. The mast was listed in 2003 as one of seven modern structures whose creation during the 1950s and 1960s represented the strides made by the UK’s telecoms industry in the spirit of Harold Wilson’s era of the ‘White Heat of Technology’.

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