On these pages are pictures of old BBC radio equipment
and memories from the people who built, maintained and used it.
We don't aim at building a comprehensive history but to provide some 'snap-shots'
of times and places. Many thanks to all contributors of photos and information.
Compiled and edited by Roger Beckwith.
Roger's home page
A comprehensive survey of the then new Broadcasting House, complete with a
detailed look at the studio and Control Room equipment.
Pictures of Belfast Control Room and two Dramatic Control Panels, plus some
memories of visits to Belfast in the mid-1930s by L.G. Smith. LG also recalls
the equipment used at the Radiolympia shows in 1936 and 1937.
Descriptions of the BBC's earliest recorders. The Blattnerphone and Marconi-Stille
machines recorded onto razor-sharp steel tape and the Philips-Miller used
a mechanical method to record on film.
Andrew Emmerson describes the extension to Broadcasting House that was never
built. He also discusses the Stronghold - an underground installation constructed
during the war and finally demolished in 2007.
Mike Chessher and Barry Taylor describe the Broadcasting House Control Room
built during the war and here near the end of its life. Roy Hayward remembers
this installation during the war years.
A look at the equipment used by the correspondents reporting World War II.
This section features photographs taken during the war by BBC recording engineer
Reg Pidsley and pictures of preserved items.
During the 1939-45 war, with many male staff serving in the armed forces,
Engineering Division trained some 800 women to work in Operations and Maintenance.
There can't be many radio stations built in railway tunnels. Gerald Daly was
Engineer in Charge of West Region during the war years and here, in a letter
written in 1974, he describes the CRR installation and how it came to be built.
The home of some of the BBC's Overseas Services from 1941 to 1957 is recalled
by Joe Latham. The page includes some photos taken by Joe in 1949.
A variety of contributors look back on their BBC careers. The oldest of them
joined at the end of 1929, several recall what BBC life was like during the
Second World War and we end with a look at News Operations in the 1990s. Contributors:
"LG" Smith, Johnny Longden, Ron Chown, Michael Cooke, Geoffrey Manuel, Roy
Hayward, Len Green, Geoff Leonard, Frank Doran (added March
, Joe Latham, Roy Maynard, Barry Taylor, Mike Turner, Chris Davies
and Jonathan Kempster.
Designed in the mid-1940s, some samples of the Type A survived in BH into
the 1970s. This section includes photographs of the first of the breed (which
was installed in studio 8A) as well as later variations, including a stereo
Mike Chessher takes a tour of the studios and other technical areas. This
is a BH little changed since the war years.
An early desk design represented by colour photos of a preserved example and
the installations in Studio B5 in London and Channel W7 in Cardiff. Updated
12th October 2011.
Bob Smith describes a transportable mixer designed by Johnny Longden for OB
use in the early 1960s. Ray White and Graham Harward remember the desks.
The new control room and continuities have replaced the old; new studios are
in use. Home, Light and Third are about to become history, as Mike Chessher
Photographs taken just before the Type B version of 3B and the adjacent recording
channel, H30, were withdrawn from service.
Descriptions of London's Type B Continuities and the Type D desks which replaced
them. Also a page featuring three generations of continuities at Cardiff's
Broadcasting House in Llandaff (updated 9th March 2012)
Mike Chessher looks back on the brief career of this studio. He adds some
notes about Radio Sport through the 60s and into the 70s.
Photos of the construction of this area, and a look at the source selection
system and the sources available in the early 60s. Plus extra memories and
photos. Much changed through the years, the area was finally taken out of
service on September 4th, 2006.
Three samples of the Type D. A mono version for news and current affairs (3E)
and a stereo version (B13), including pictures of a 'Family Favourites' session.
Robert Smith describes the equipment used by BBC Local Radio stations. There
are photos from Radios Leicester, Teesside and Leeds.
The Neve desk in the Concert Hall of Broadcasting House (later the Radio Theatre)
seen in 1972. Also a 1940 photo shows the studio in use as a dormitory area.
The General Purpose desks made by Neve, Calrec and Audix which were the workhorses
of BH through the 1980s. Extra page added 4th May 2012.
Away from BH, a description of the facilities and methods used at No.1 Bridge
Street, for thirteen years the home of the BBC's radio coverage of Parliament.
Some of the converted London theatres and cinemas used for audience shows
and music recording.
Tony Nuttall recalls the Playhouse, the Control Room and one of the studios
in the early 1970s, plus photos of the 1929 Control Room.
Chris Owen photographs his collection of vintage mics - including the Marconi-Reisz
and BT-H carbons from the 1920s, the BBC A- and B-Types from the 30s and 40s
and the PGS and 4038 from the 50s.
David Hughes remembers BTR/2s he has known, including the portable version,
and also discusses the BBC stereo rebuild, the RD4/4. Updated
6th October 2011.
Photographs and descriptions of the grams found in studios in the early 1960s
- the TD/7, DRD/5 and RP2/1. Plus some test records.
Although this site is about radio, we take brief notice of the existence of
television! Colin Berwick looks back on his twenty years in BBC TV sound operations
and remembers the sound desk in TC6 in 1985. Nick Flowers recalls working
at AP in the 1960s.
Some pre-Corporation broadcasting dates; the running order of the TV programmes
that launched the BBC's regular "high definition" TV service in 1936; a look
at variations in the BBC's coat of arms, a memory of the day that Radio Caroline began broadcasting and
photos of the demolition of the BH extensions in 2007.
The museum is attached to Tropiquaria, a tourist attraction housed in the
redundant part of the Washford Transmitting Station, Somerset. It aims to
describe the building's history as well as offer an insight into radio broadcasting
in Britain from the 1920s onwards. Many items of early BBC equipment and ephemera
are on display along with a collection of radios, televisions and related
artifacts and literature. Added 3rd September 2011.
A splendid book about Broadcasting House was published in October 2008. "The
Story of Broadcasting House: Home of the BBC" by Mark Hines will interest
many visitors to this site.
An index of places and topics covered on this site.
Links to other sites with BBC equipment and related topics.
This is not an official site, and is not created or endorsed by the BBC. Most
of the information on this site is based on the memories of the authors and
represents our personal recollections and opinions. All written material on
the pages of this web site is the property of named authors, and cannot be duplicated
or otherwise distributed without prior written consent. Image files are the
property of the noted contributor and also cannot be duplicated or distributed
without prior written consent. The compiler trusts that any unintended breach
of copyright will be notified to him so that due acknowledgement can be made
or the copyright material removed.
Contributors: Peter Alcock, John Andrews, Antony Askew, Geoff Atkins, Richard
Barnes, Jim Bartlett, Roger Beardsley, Guy de la Bédoyère, Mark Bennett,
Mike Benson, Colin Berwick, Brian Binding, Frank Brockman, Jim Butterworth,
Alma Cadzow, Chris Chambers, Robin Cherry, Mike Chessher, Ron Chown, Rob Clayton,
Michael Cooke, Gerald Daly, Chris Davies, Roger Derry, Chris Doggett, Frank
Doran, Neil Dunstan, Dave Edwards, Simon Edwards, Ted Edwards, Andrew Emmerson,
Peter Emmerson, Nick Flowers, Alan Garriock, Len Green, John Hale, Patrick Handscombe,
Chris Harnett, Graham Harwood, Glynn Hayward, Roy Hayward, Russell Hedges, Colin
Heron, Roy Honey, David Hughes, Philip Hughes, Nick Jennings, Kevin Johnson,
Mike Jordan, Jonathan Kempster, Joe Latham, Geoff Leonard, Wilfred Lindop, Johnny
Longden, Geoffrey Manuel, Bev Marks, Bob Marriott, Roy Maynard, Dave McCarthy,
Roger Morgan, Tony Nelson, Tony Nuttall, Dick Oldman, Chris Owen, Reg Pidsley,
Nick Ross, John Rushby-Smith, Guy Saich, Pete Simpkin, Matt Sims, Bob Smith,
Les "LG" Smith, Mark Smith, Mike Stace, John Talbot-Jones, Barry Taylor,
Ian Taylor, Peter Thomson, Mike Turner, Andrew Warrington, Christine Webster,
John Westbury, Ray White, Brian Willey, Neil Wilson, Derek Windebank, Tony Woolf,
Special thanks to Kathy Talbot-Jones for permission to use John's photos. Many
SMs will remember John with affection and have cause to be grateful to him for
his patient training.
BH in 1932
| 1930s Equipment
| Early tape recorders
BH 1930s Extension
| BH Control Room in 1962 Reporting
| Women operators
| | Memories
| | BH in 1959
Marconi Desk | Longden
| BH in 1967
| 1960s BH Control Room
Type D Studios
| Local Radio
| Concert Hall
| GP Desks
| Bridge Street
| Cue Grams
| TV Sound
| Odds &
| Washford Radio Museum