United Kingdom

Looking for Britain's fastest broadband? Head for a shed in the Yorkshire Dales

Nestled in a sleepy corner of the Yorkshire Dales, the village of Rathmell is a far cry from the world of high technology and innovation. Indeed, a 100-year-old reading room is its main communication hub, with newspapers delivered daily.

But thanks to resident Keith Mothersdale, the picturesque village in the Ribble Valley now has lightning-quick broadband and he can boast the UK’s fastest internet speed.

Frustrated at the slow internet connection suffered by millions in rural areas, Mr Mothersdale, a semi-retired telecoms expert, vowed to drag Rathmell into the 21st Century.

Mr Mothersdale’s connection is so powerful that when he first tried it out in his home office, his desktop computer started smoking, leaving a scorch mark on the wooden table, and he burnt his hand

His connection speed is an astonishing 10,000 megabits a second – or ten gigabits – meaning he can download a film in 5.6 seconds compared with between 31 and 93 minutes for most UK households

First, he helped to organise an ultra-fast broadband connection – 19 times quicker than the national average – for Rathmell’s 305 residents. 

Then he upgraded his own home connection, making it 194 times faster than the national average and more than 83,000 times speedier than the slowest in the country.

Mr Mothersdale’s connection is so powerful that when he first tried it out in his home office, his desktop computer started smoking, leaving a scorch mark on the wooden table, and he burnt his hand.

‘I’ve never seen anything heat up so quick,’ he told The Mail on Sunday. ‘I saw smoke rising and I had visions of the whole place going up in flames. Luckily I managed to lift the computer outside.’ Mr Mothersdale is now moving his office into his garden shed.

His connection speed is an astonishing 10,000 megabits a second – or ten gigabits – meaning he can download a film in 5.6 seconds compared with between 31 and 93 minutes for most UK households. 

Only City traders known as ‘flash boys’, who use super-computers to make trades milliseconds before their rivals, have comparable speeds.

The average UK speed is 51.48 megabits a second, according to comparison website cable.co.uk. Britain’s slowest connection, a glacial 0.12 megabits a second, is endured by residents of a street in Weybridge, Surrey.

‘I’ve got the best bragging rights in the country,’ said Mr Mothersdale, 62, married to Kathy, 55. ‘With ten gigabits I have the fastest broadband in the country and it will all be from my garden shed.’

Britain’s internet speeds trail most of Western Europe, with many rural areas reliant on broadband coming down copper phone lines. 

Mr Mothersdale, a former technology director for Finnish telecoms company Teleste, said the village felt ‘ignored and abandoned’ by the major broadband providers. 

‘We kept being told our internet would improve, that it was just around the corner, but it never happened,’ he said. 

He and a neighbour contacted not-for-profit provider Broadband 4 The Rural North (B4RN), based in nearby Melling. 

It offered to bring speeds of 1,000 megabits to Rathmell if villagers could raise £85,000 – which they did in a fortnight. 

A fibre optic cable was brought to the boundary of each home via a box that sits opposite the village reading room, but it was up to householders to get the connection into their homes. 

The Yorkshire village of Rathmell, in the Ribble Valley now has lightning-quick broadband and he can boast the UK’s fastest internet speed

Over two years, Mr Mothersdale and other villagers dug trenches, some of which pass under dry stone walls that criss-cross the countryside. The connection costs £30 a month.

Mr Mothersdale, who works part-time for US cable company Amphenol, decided to upgrade further. 

He got an even faster connection from B4RN and built a bespoke gaming computer able to cope with higher speeds. ‘I had to get up in the middle of the night when no one else was using the network so that I could trial it accurately,’ he said.

Mr Mothersdale, whose story was uncovered by the Great Move North podcast, added: ‘If I can get the highest speed in the UK from my garden shed in the middle of a tiny village in Yorkshire, I think it’s shameful the majority of householders in this country are continually frustrated by speeds that just aren’t matching up to the promises we are given.

‘We might be in the Ribble Valley, not Silicon Valley, but we’re a tech hub that is providing a fantastic example of what we could have all across the UK.’

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