ORBEM
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 | Contact Roger.


What's new   Rita Jaye's memories of H Group transmitters added February 2014 and 200 Oxford Street added January 2014. More pics of B6 Type D desk. Added January 2014.
Broadcasting House in the 1930s - Whole section rebuilt with extra photos, more text and a selection of 1930s articles about the building. Updated September 2013.
Click here for details of other recent additions.

BH1932
A comprehensive survey of the then new Broadcasting House, complete with a detailed look at the studio and Control Room equipment. More photos and text plus articles from the 1930s BBC Year Books added September 2013.
1930s
Pictures of Belfast Control Room and two Dramatic Control Panels, plus some memories of visits to Belfast in the mid-1930s and Radiolympia 1936/7 by L.G. Smith. The 1937 Technical Instruction for the Regional DCPs added May 2013.
Recorders
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.
Extension
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.
1940s CR
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. 1943 TI for Wartime Control Rooms & Studios and 1946 TI for GTS added May 2013.
War
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.
Women
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.
CRR
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.
Oxford St
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. Trevor Hill remembers the war years at 200 and Rita Jaye a slightly later period (added January 2014).
Memories
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, Rita Jaye (added February 2014), Geoffrey Manuel, Roy Hayward, Len Green, Geoff Leonard, Frank Doran, Joe Latham, Roy Maynard, Barry Taylor, Mike Turner, Chris Davies and Jonathan Kempster.
Type A
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 version.
BH in 1959
Mike Chessher takes a tour of the studios and other technical areas. This is a BH little changed since the war years.
Marconi desks
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.
The Longden Desk
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.
BH in 1967
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 recalls.
Type B desks
Photographs of the Type B desks in BH remain elusive. But here's a fascinating technical description of them.
3B and H30
Photographs taken just before the Type B version of 3B and the adjacent recording channel, H30, were withdrawn from service.
Continuities
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.
Miixer 1A
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.
The 1960s Control Room
Photos of the construction of this area, a look at the source selection system and the sources available in the early 60s, memories and photos. Much changed through the years, the area was finally taken out of service on September 4th, 2006. Recruitment booklet added December 2013.
Type D
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.
Local Radio
Robert Smith describes the equipment used by BBC Local Radio stations. There are photos from Radios Leicester, Teesside and Leeds.
The Concert Hall
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.
GP
The General Purpose desks made by Neve, Calrec and Audix which were the workhorses of BH through the 1980s.
GP
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.
The Hippodrome
Some of the converted London theatres and cinemas used for audience shows and music recording. Also the control desk at the Royal Albert Hall in the 1970s/80s added November 2013.
8A
Studio 8A seen in its final form before the 1932 building was renovated. A studio which had a few 'firsts' to its credit.
Basement Studios
Project Baseband studios and B6 photographed when new and shortly before they closed just before the demolition of the Broadcasting House Extension.
GP
Tony Nuttall recalls the Playhouse, the Control Room and one of the studios in the early 1970s, plus photos of the 1929 Control Room. Also photos of the demolition of NBH.
Microphones
A selection 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. TI for the Type A added January and May 2013. Extra photos of BT-H added May 2013.
BTR/2
David Hughes remembers BTR/2s he has known, including the portable version, and also discusses the BBC stereo rebuild, the RD4/4.
Grams
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 and signature tunes. Updated April 2014
TV
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.
Odds and Ends
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.
Washford
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.
Review
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.
Site index
An index of places and topics covered on this site.
Links
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, Giles Aspen, 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, Roger Dowling, Colin Duff, Neil Dunstan, Dave Edwards, Simon Edwards, Ted Edwards, Andrew Emmerson, Peter Emmerson, Nick Flowers, Alan Garriock, Paul Graves-Brown, Len Green, John Hale, Patrick Handscombe, Richard Hannaford, Chris Harnett, Graham Harwood, Glynn Hayward, Roy Hayward, Russell Hedges, Colin Heron, Trevor Hill, Roy Honey, David Hughes, Philip Hughes, Rita Jaye, 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, Roger Yeates, Kenneth Young.

BH in 1932 | 1930s Equipment | Early tape recorders | Proposed BH 1930s Extension | BH Control Room in 1962 Reporting War | Women operators | Clifton Rocks Railway | 200 Oxford Street | Memories | Type A | BH in 1959
Marconi Desk | Longden Desk | BH in 1967 | 3B/H30 | Continuities | Mixer 1A | 1960s BH Control Room
Type D Studios | Local Radio | Concert Hall | GP Desks | Bridge Street | Outside Studios | BHX Basement Final Years
Manchester | Microphones | BTR/2s | Cue Grams | TV Sound | Odds & Ends | Washford Radio Museum
Site Index | Links