Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
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This page is intended to help people who are seeking or offering assistance with matters relating to BBC engineering. To contact the originator of an item below, click the link in the relevant section.  I will forward your email to the intended recipient. Let me know if you would like an entry on the page.

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Date inserted Title

13 Current items                         Click for: 50 Resolved items and 80 Expired items

9 Aug 2019 1936 Marconi  transmitter from AP John Rhodes writes: "I was interested to read the article on the 2LO transmitter which led on to talk about the 1936 Marconi 17kw transmitter at Alexandra Palace. I used to work for the Marconi Company in Building 46 New Street, Chelmsford in the late 1960s. In the entrance lobby to the building was that 17kw amplifier sitting there as a museum piece.

I have always wondered what happened to this equipment when the company was closed down by the finance industry. I hope it was moved somewhere safe and not thrown away, but despite my searches I can find no reference to it."

If you know where it is, please make contact.

2 Jun 2019 BBC specification TV80 Brian Summers says, further to his post dated 13 Feb 2019 (below), that the MCR21 restoration is now under way.

One of the many things he is looking for is the original BBC specification TV80 which is proving hard to find.

Current Newsletters can be downloaded here:- 

There is much else to find, the wish list is here:- 

There were 10 of these OB vans made used in London and the regions. He would love to hear from anyone who worked on any of them.  Please get in touch.

25 May 2019 Painton rotary attenuators Guy Stanbury is seeking technical information on two Painton rotary attenuators acquired at a recent vintage radio dispersal. He believes they may be early broadcast (BBC) studio equipment. The type numbers are PB20-M2G, PO/2E1. Any/all help would be greatly appreciated.
29 Apr 2019 Emley Moor Mike Pearson is an independent film maker researching a social history documentary about the lifestyles of BBC and IBA TV Transmitter Engineers in the Huddersfield and Belmont area in the 50s, 60s and 70s, including when the Emley Moor mast collapsed.

He is also interested in the Eagle Tower used to restore BBC2 at Emley Moor, and any riggers' experiences with tubular masts or the galloping guy phenomenon.

Mike would also like to hear from anyone evacuated from Belmont or Winter Hill (following Emley's collapse), anyone who has pictures of the 150 tons of chains subsequently suspended in those tubular masts, and anyone from Waltham which also toppled in 1966.

If you can provide any information please get in touch.  Mike's father Peter Smith Pearson worked at Emley Moor and made a cine film of the tubular mast being painted.

8 Apr 2019 Alfred Nicholas Thomas Mervyn Hagger writes: "Can you contribute to research for a specialized biography about the life of a highly respected and somewhat feared BBC career engineer named Alfred Nicholas Thomas,? He was called "Ant" behind his back, but always "Mister Thomas" to his face. He retired in 1959 after a life-time of work at the BBC. He appears to have been born in 1900 and died on October 10, 1994 at Portsmouth. He was survived by his wife Dorothy and children.

My interest is in what A. N. Thomas did after 1959 when he retired.

Three BBC colleagues contributed to his Obituary published in Ariel, and they all noted his extraordinary interest in the variety of radio and television broadcasting endeavours that he was engaged in while at the BBC. One of the contributors noted that after he left the BBC, he was employed by Pye, and this is the area that I am researching."

21 Feb 2019 Record cutting equipment Dylan Beattie writes: "I’m looking for anyone who is willing to part with any record cutting equipment from the BBC of any era, although I am particularly interested in the modified presto cutters and (modified) Grampian heads. "
13 Feb 2019 BBC OB Van MCR21

Brian Summers writes: "The Broadcast Television Technology Trust’s first project is the restoration of MCR21 back to its original 1963 condition when it can be used to demonstrate and explain the technologies used in television production.  There is much to do, information, equipment, the memories of those who worked on it, all to be found and preserved. See  If you can help please get in touch. Our associated camera museum website is"

5 Feb 2019 Equipment Identification Richard Oakley would appreciate help identifying the equipment shown in the pictures.

The modules are as follows-

Call indicator; Counter and address; Base station A request; Base station B request; Audio mix; Audio matrix A; Audio matrix B; Audio send and receive; Demultiplex; Destination facilities.

29 Jan 2019 5XX Tx to USA in 1925 Harry Nelson writes: "I am basically looking for someone interested in the March 14, 1925 transmission of music from the Savoy Hotel in London, sent to Chelmsford 5XX, to Belfast, Maine, where the signal was caught on a Beverage Wave Antenna at the RCA Experimental Radio station. From Belfast is was sent shortwave to New York City, then out on station WJZ; signal was also transmitted by land wire, I believe to WRC in Washington, DC, where the program was broadcast to listeners as far west as Milwaukee.

This, in my book, was the radio equivalent to the TELSTAR satellite experiments in 1962 involving television. In 2002, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers established an IEEE Milestone Plaque in the Andover, Maine town square.

A group of IEEE Maine Chapter members are interested in sponsoring a Milestone Plaque for the 1925 event. You can actually hear some of the broadcast [here]. I must mention much of the information was gleaned from the local Belfast Republican Journal newspaper by HAM operator Bruce Clark. Bruce and I, in 2004 searched for artifacts at the station site, and the many miles of Beverage Wave Antenna lines. We did come up with some galvanized anchors for poles, and some wire.

I would like to find someone in England who shares my interest in this historic transmission. Maybe find someone who can share photos of the Chelmsford station and antenna. Maybe someone who could find some newspaper articles and share them with use here in the US."

2 Nov 2018 Harry Rantzen Tony Taylor writes: "I am a retired academic historian living in Australia and I am currently working on a project which takes in the social, political, economic and military histories of the four families that came together when my wife (Scilla) and I married in 1968. One of those families was the Rantzens.  Harry Rantzen was my father-in-law. I knew him very well and I was very fond of him. He was courteous a man of formidable intellect right to the end of his days (he died in 1992, aged 90).

I have reached the section in my story where Harry is Head of Design[s Department] during the post-war period and while I have found two useful comments about his managerial style (his nickname was 'Tiger'apparently), there is a period (1950-1952) when he went to New York to supervise the setting up of UN's global telecommunications network. There is some dispute about how this was arranged. Harry maintained that he was seconded by the BBC but when he returned in 1952 he was told there was no job for him. The staff who have written about this incident refer to 'secondment' but his Designs staff farewell photograph (March 1950) refers to 'resignation'. Harry believed that his boss Harold Bishop, with whom he did not get on apparently, edged him out and left him high and dry on his return from the US."

14 August 2018 ME2/4/A/101 ‘Sweep Form 2’ option' Russell W. Barnes (STE Skelton) writes: "I’m looking for a cct-diagram and any info for the a.c. test-set type ME2/4/A/101 – more specifically, the version with the ‘Sweep Form 2’ option. Our ‘heritage’ ACO books at Skelton don’t cover this kit, and I can’t see it on the comprehensive ‘enginfo’ list either. Any information we once had on the unit has now gone astray.

It looks like the Sweep Form 2 version uses four EEPROMS on a discrete PCB at the back of the instrument, but, without a circuit it would be big job of comparing and contrasting with our last known worker. The test-set works fine but the sweep waveform generator has failed, and I’m afraid it isn’t simply a case of a dirty switch. All assistance gratefully appreciated!

3 August 2018 Fatality at BP Kate Terkanian writes: "I am working on a PhD on the BBC and was wondering if anyone has any information on a fatal accident that occurred at Brookmans Park, probably on 12 March 1941? I have found a reference to it in BBC files, but the archivists can’t find any further information on the accident. The records say R.W. Angell was killed, but further research leads me to believe it was Ronald Walter Angell. He would have been 39 at the time. Probate records list his death as 12 March 1941 at the Hospital in Barnet. Any information would be helpful."
2 May 2018 Master Clock Drive Unit
Mike Davis and Bart Schipper are (separately) seeking information on master clock drive unit CA1/6A such as circuit diagrams, service handbook or operating handbook. It was probably used mainly in local radio stations.

The boards within the unit are marked with the following code numbers:
AM24/1 (amplifier PCB), OS2/41 (oscillator PCB), UN1/160 (frequency divider PCB).

See the top of this page for links to items that have expired (after one year) or been resolved