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The “Reg. Deane” Studer A80

This is a story about a tape recorder rather than Research Department.

One of the duties of Reg. Deane, a laboratory engineer who retired from BBC Research Department (as it was then) in December 1984, was to care for two Studer analogue tape recording machines, an A80 and a B62. These were located in Room A35 at Kingswood Warren, and kept in immaculate working order as a result of Reg’s careful attentions (and subsequently by George Mitchell and Melvyn Smith).

 Some years after Reg’s retirement (probably in 1993 or 1994) the R&D management held a “junk sale” to auction off redundant technical kit to the staff. Included in this lot were two Studer B62 tape machines (one was the one which Reg. had looked after for many years) and the Studer A80. Sealed bids were invited and “Reg’s” B62 now graces our music room; I got it for a tenner! The evening after I got it home Steve, our son, telephoned from Bretton Hall (University of Leeds) where he was doing a music degree. I told him about the B62, and he demanded to know what had happened to the A80. I told him it was too big for me to consider buying, and no-one else had wanted it. I also mentioned that the “sweat and grumble brigade” (i.e. the handymen) had bu’sted one of the castors when moving it. The next morning, Bretton Hall telephoned me at Kingswood to ask if they could buy the A80 and the remaining B62 for £30. They wanted to equip a small music recording studio with some analogue machines. I put them on to the management, and they duly purchased and collected the goods. However, the studio project never got under way. The university technician responsible got a job with the BBC, and the tape machines were left parked in a corridor. A year or two after leaving Bretton, Steve was dismayed to hear that the B62 and A80 had been carted off to the Wakefield Council rubbish tip.

That should have been the end of the story, but there is an epilogue. Steve has been playing the drums for a pop-idol called Graham Coxon. A nice enough guy, but I cannot in all honesty recommend his performances; they are not to my taste at all. Anyway, one of the “gigs” in 2006 was in Wakefield, and some of Steve’s former associates showed up in the audience. One of them invited him back to a terraced house in the suburbs, where he had equipped the first floor as a recording studio. Pride of place in the control cubicle was given to a handsome Studer A80, supported at one corner where the castor had broken by an old dictionary. The A80 still proudly bore a blue spot and a BBC RD Baseband Systems Section adhesive label. Apparently, the machine had been rescued at the 11th hour by a group of students who had borrowed a Landrover and towed it (on its 3 serviceable castors) out into Bretton Park and concealed it behind one of Henry Moore’s statues for a few hours until they could get someone with a van to cart it away.

So, the A80 which Reg. had cared for during all those years at Kingswood lives on in a terraced house in Wakefield! The B62 is within 40 feet of where I sit typing this story.

Neil Gilchrist. 6 February 2008.

Postscript: Reg. Deane died in the spring of 2008, but not as a result of reading this! NHCG 21 May 2010