Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
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Designs Department

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The department's function was to design broadcasting equipment that the BBC needed, if suitable equipment was not available from external suppliers.  Thousands of designs were produced and they were used in studios, outside broadcasts, control centres and transmitting stations.  The output from DD was manufacturing information and intellectual property related to broadcasting systems. The manufacturing information enabled BBC Equipment Department or commercial industry to produce the required quantities of equipment needed by the BBC.

Some designs were also made under licence by commercial industry for sale to other broadcasters, in which case the BBC received a royalty.  Due to the leading edge nature of the department's work, its staff also contributed to national and international organisations concerned with the development of broadcast engineering (e.g. colour television).

Designs Department was formed in 1947 and based in London W1 until 1987.  It was then reduced in size to form Design Group and merged with Equipment Department to form Design & Equipment Department, in Chiswick.  Following the closure of D&ED in 1993, Design Group merged with Research Department at Kingswood Warren, Surrey to form BBC Research and Development.

This article from the Practical Television magazine dated May 1957 provides a flavour of some of the developments that were taking place. (Contributed by Neale Davison.)

Designs Department Staff Handbook c1982.

Many of the Designs Department Technical Memorandums listed in this document are available and individual copies may be requested from bbceng.

Finance For Design Engineers.

Brochure: Opportunities in BBC Engineering Designs Department c1982.

Licensing BBC Designs - Article in Ariel, June 1980.

Designs Department Open Days booklet, October 1982.

Designs Department Open Days booklet, October 1985.


Western House
The home of Designs Department from 1953 to 1987.

It is now called Wogan House and is the home of BBC Radio 2.