The 1940s BH Control Room

The 1940s Broadcasting House Control Room - page 3

There was also a line of bays stretching down the right hand wall. The odd numbered bays (plus bay 4) were OBA/8 type control positions, also confusingly known as "bays". Strictly speaking they were APM/1s, a version used in studios and Control Rooms with connections at the rear.

Bay 11

Each bay had an identical jackfield of London studios, incoming lines etc. and sources were picked up with "double-double-enders". A standard jack for the music line and a smaller one below for the control line. A sleeve circuit on the control line carried red light signalling. Virtually every temporary feed passing through the control room, be it a line from a region to a recording channel or a radio circuit from New Delhi went through a "bay" and the details were logged by the operator. The close-up on the right shows a typical bay. The red light signal keys and associated green buzz back lamps are above the channel faders. The bottom panel carries prefade buttons on the left and telephone flaps on the right.


At the top right of the colour shot of the bays is a studio red light indicator panel. A distant descendant of the two on the walls of the Savoy Hill Control Room of 1925.

Sound OBs
Before the war, when the area was Studio BA, there had been audience seating on a balcony down the left hand side of the studio. This balcony now housed the Outside Broadcast position with testing and equalising facilities for OB lines.

There were lots of permanently rented lines from central London sites such as Lords cricket ground and the Royal Albert Hall. Music and control lines were left connected together at the OB point so a DC test could be carried out round the loop.
TV Position

Also in this area was a position handling sound and communications circuits for TV. Television was also on the move at this time (early 1960s), from Lime Grove to Television Centre with news still at Alexandra Palace. There were steps at the far end down to the main floor.

From balcony
The view from the OB position on the balcony. The 2 jackfields on top of bays 74 and 75 (just above the scaffold board) were added to provide links to the new control room, hence the PVC covered cables and the shiny new cable trays. At the time the B&W photo was taken the new Control Room had more or less taken over from the old but the colour shot, below, was taken when this area was still fully operational a couple of years earlier. The windows behind the ATOM's desk are to S2. As you can see, an operator at the end bay could see the announcer in S2 thus making it a viable spare continuity.

From balcony

Home con
In the area beneath the balcony were two cramped continuity suites, one for the Home Service and the other for the Third Programme. The cubicles were similar to a "bay" but had been upgraded since first installed and no longer bore much resemblance to OBA/8 gear. The twin needle PPMs displayed AM and VHF check receivers against output. There was also speaker off-air monitoring and just about room for two chairs - no tape machines or grams of course.
Home con

Left - The announcer had a mic fader, a gram either side and a group fader on the outside sources. The TO (Technical Operator) had a bypass for this dangerous and rarely used control.

TOM's desk

Back out in the control room, facing the "front bench" was a tiny cubicle for the TOM (Technical Operations Manager). The photo, right, shows his desk. The display at the top is associated with the auto GTS gear. The TOM could join in the foreign news traffic managers conference circuits and gave a report on the quality of all radio telephone feeds.
ATOM's desk

There was also a desk for his assistant - the ATOM (yes, they were all men but there were quite a few women operators, recruited during the war years). The ATOM had extensive monitoring facilities, allowing him check programmes passing through the Control Room.