BBCeng.info  
Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
web site is:
www.bbc.co.uk

Old News - i.e. text that has previously been under the News heading on the Home page

Return to Home page

..The New Items link on the Home page menu should normally be used to see a list of items added to the web site.

The Old News below is just for general interest.  It only indicates some of the additions since the web site was started.
 

5 June to 12 July 2017 BBC's regular colour television service started 50 years ago on 1st July 2017.  Please see Info Exchange page (menu above) for a request regarding a feature on the One Show.

The "Managed Broadcast Network" was a major and very successful development, and I am delighted to report that a thorough description by David Russell is now on the website.  See New Items in the menu above.

4 April to 5 June 2017 I have just added a request on the Information Exchange page regarding the ‘Our World’ TV programme (1967).  The deadline is very short so please respond quickly if you can help.

More items are due to be added in May.... or June!

5 March to 4 April 2017 Phew!  It was a bit tricky and time-consuming, but I have now reverted to the original website format and I have included all the items that were added when I was trying a different format during 2016.  My reasons for reverting to this format are given here, in case you are interested.

I have more items to add and I'll do this gradually, so keep an eye on New Items (see menu). 

2016 A different format was tried for all of this year and there were no significant News Items worth recording here.
8 Nov to 27 Dec 2015 This web site started in January 2006 and in the last ten years it has grown to nearly 5GB in size, as a result of contributions from about 250 people.  It now forms a significant record of BBC engineering, and considerable interest in the subject still remains. Web statistics indicate that about 100 pages are viewed per day on average (not including software web crawlers etc.).

On 8th November 2015 I sent flash drive copies of the entire web site to the BBC Written Archives Centre and the BBC Pensioners' Association, in the hope that the contents will be retained indefinitely for reference.

Please see the About page for information concerning the future of the web site.

The next update is likely to appear in January 2016.

20 July to 8 Nov 2015 This web site is about the past, but if you are also interested in the future of the BBC, please consider responding to the "Protect our BBC" campaign.

Nick Cutmore has been hard at work again and putting his scanner to good use - see New Items above.  Many thanks Nick.

The D&ED Reunion Lunch has been booked by 58 people.  That's pretty good considering that most of us last worked together about three decades ago!  I think that we all continue to have busy and interesting lives, but we also enjoyed each other's company all those years ago, so it's good to get together once a year.

12 June to 20 July 2015

Date of next D&ED Reunion Lunch now confirmed.

On 8th February 2015 I added a PDF version of On Air to bbceng and, according to web statistics, the book has been downloaded 1300 times!  I am pleased, but somewhat amazed, by this because the book was first published 13 years ago and the subject matter is somewhat specialised.  Unfortunately the PDF file that I provided was rather poor with respect to the format of the content, but I am delighted to say that I received offers to improve it.  A much better version is now available for download from this page, which includes an acknowledgement to the people concerned.  I am most grateful to them.

Two significant additions:

    40 more Technical Instructions, which have been scanned by Nick Cutmore.

    Many interesting pictures, with captions, showing difficult work being carried out high up on masts, from Tony Smith.

16 Apr to 12 June 2015

The Antiques Roadshow (Series 32: 21 Leeds) from about 19 and a half minutes in, features some BBC equipment. Does anyone know what the units were?  Nick Cutmore says "I think I read one as an MX/29/xx but we have no TI of that code. As such a code isn't an MXn/29/xx, it must be pretty early - early 1950s perhaps? When did the unit code sub classifications come in?"

Ron McCaskill has kindly explained: "It is a fairly standard set of OBA/9 outside broadcast equipment, on the top left is an OBA/9 amplifier, below it is a DU/1 Distribution Unit, Below that is an LSM/9 Loudspeaker Amplifier, in the right hand stack, the little box with the cue lights is a CMU/9 Communications Unit, Below it is a MX/29 Mixer, and below that is the SUP/6 Supply Unit. It Is dealt with in Technical Instruction S3, Audio Frequency Amplifiers, but probably also appears item by item in the red ACO binders (apparatus in Code Order), and yes, I too rescued a set of these from a skip about 15 years ago!!."

The Antiques Roadshow (Series 32: 23 Hopetoun) features some papers from the BBC's first television broadcast in 1936.  The engineering aspects are not mentioned except for the Baird/EMI tests, but the programme might interest visitors to this web site.  The relevant part starts at 19 minutes and 17 seconds.  It will be available throughout May.  (My thanks to Nick Cutmore for telling me about this.)

This might also be of interest: Researching the history of TV production technology.

21 Mar to 16 Apr 2015

A copy of "BBC Engineering 1922 - 1972 - Edward Pawley" has just appeared on eBay.  It's a rare opportunity to buy, if you are interested.  This book is the "Bible" regarding the early history of BBC Engineering.  (I'm not on commission!)

"BBC Engineering" returns to the BBC!  The article says "Engineers made it possible for the BBC to come into existence in 1922".  Hmm, sounds familiar :-)

The BBC1 analogue transmitter from Crystal Palace has been saved.  Well done Electrokinetica!

8 Feb to 21 Mar 2015

Radar: The Daventry Experiment - This event might be of interest.

I am pleased to announce that the book On Air - A History of BBC Transmission, is now available on this web site.

A time capsule of the BBC at Alexandra Palace?

9 Jan to 8 Feb 2015

BBC World Service English to end medium wave radio services to Eastern Mediterranean on 1323 kHz in April - click here for more.

The 1982 television programme "Hang-on I'll Speak to the World" is not really about engineering, but it does include some behind-the-scenes information and images that show how the BBC's engineering systems were used.  Here are the links to parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 on YouTube.  (Links recommended by Dave Porter.)

This bit of trivia might bring back memories: "Test card girl 'bemused' by her return to British television".

20 Nov 2014 to 9 Jan 2015 The HF relay station in the Seychelles has closed down after 25 years of service. Click here for details.
4 Nov to 20 Nov 2014

Brian Proffitt has carried out a lot of work scanning Technical Instructions and he has very kindly contributed the result to this web site.  Many of these TIs date from the 1930s and they provide an excellent record of the detailed engineering that was carried out in the early years at the BBC.  It is a very worthwhile addition to bbceng and I am sure that these documents will be of interest to many of the web site's visitors.
(Click Technical Instructions in the Menu above)

I have recently attended two reunions of BBC engineers who worked together about 25 and 40 years ago respectively. There have been several such gatherings in recent years and the 100+ people involved have happy memories of working together all that time ago.  Like all organisations, some aspects were less than ideal, but there was a tremendous community spirit.  We were doing very interesting work, developing new broadcasting systems and constantly improving value for money through the application of new technology.  It brought us together and the bond still remains after all these years.  Life moves on though and nowadays the talk at the reunions is of current and future technology as well as a diverse range of new interests, with just the occasional bit of reminiscing.

I am pleased to report that 2LO is now prominently displayed at the Science Museum's new Information Age Gallery.

24 Sep to 4 Nov 2014 BBC Transmission's new headquarters building in Warwick opened on 27th October 1989. It was quite exciting at the time and many people have fond memories of the place during its BBC and Crown Castle days.  The 25th anniversary has provided an excuse for a gathering at a local pub in the evening of 30th October.  If you are not already in touch with the organiser, Maurice Miller, and would like to join in, then please send an email by clicking here.   What has now happened to the building? Click here for the answer.
17 Jul to 24 Sep 2014 David Gallop has contributed an interesting article about rhombic antennas.  They were used by the BBC to a limited degree, but David's article also covers their use in the US and he has included an interesting summary of very high power transmitter developments.

The next Design and Equipment Department reunion lunch will take place soon and the link to the right will remain on this page until the lunch has taken place.  If you were associated with the Designs, Equipment, Research or Capital Projects Departments then you will probably know several other people at the lunch and you would be welcome to join us.

27 Jun to 17 Jul 2014 I would like to pay tribute to Johnny Johnstone who passed away recently. He was a great character and a very intelligent man who helped many BBC people to understand some of the more erudite aspects of electronic engineering. I benefited greatly from his guidance and encouragement from 1970 to 1985 and I was just one of many who did so throughout his long career, which ran from the 1950s to the 1990s. As Head of Radio Frequency Section in Designs Department he made sure that his engineers based their designs on sound principles and I well remember frequent tutorials on such things as the mathematics of filter design. However he was much more than a first class engineer, because he cared greatly about the professional development of his staff and this is another reason why he was held in such high esteem. In some ways he was an enigmatic character and that added to his charm. He attended reunion lunches until 2011 and kept in touch with many of his colleagues, who will miss him greatly.

Two colleagues plan to write an obituary for Johnny and they would welcome contributions.  In particular information about Johnny's early career would be appreciated.  (Click here to start an email which I will forward to them.)   Please click Deaths in the menu above for funeral information.

26 Apr to 27 Jun 2014

Visitors to bbceng.info might be interested in this sale of equipment from Television Centre.

The last print-run for the book On Air took place in 2006 and all new copies were sold long ago.  It is still occasionally possible to buy second hand copies from certain commercial book sellers, but a typical price seems to be at least £50, compared with the original price of £12.50.  Also, unlike the original sales of new books, I don't think that the proceeds are donated to charity!

I occasionally receive requests for copies of On Air, so there still appears to be some interest in the book.  As a result, it is my intention to make it available for download in due course (2015 perhaps).  So, if you have a copy that you don't want, now is probably a good time to put it on eBay.  I suggest that you use the title "On Air - A History of BBC Transmission" so that anyone who wants the book can set up a "Saved Search" and receive an email notification from eBay.

For the avoidance of doubt: no, I will not make the book available for download now.  This is partly because a basic .pdf download would not be very satisfactory and I don't want to spend time learning about e-publishing at present.  More importantly, the delay also gives time for buying and selling to take place before the book is devalued as a result of easy availability on-line.  If those selling their book decide to contribute some of the proceeds to charity, so much the better.

3 Mar to 26 Apr 2014 I would like to feature information on this web site about all of the museums in the UK which hold objects related to BBC engineering.  If you feel inclined to write about any such museums I would be pleased to hear from you. (See Info Exchange & Contact in the menu above for contact address.)
19 Dec 2013 to 3 Mar 2014 The size of this web site has just doubled to 6GB as a result of work carried out by Nick Cutmore.  This major addition provides details of equipment designed by BBC engineers.  There are over a thousand documents, produced between about 1950 and 1980. The information will be of particular interest to equipment restoration enthusiasts. Click Technical Instructions in the menu above.
14 Nov to 19 Dec 2013

Information needed!  This subject is not strictly a matter for bbceng as it concerns a transmitting station in Ireland, but I have received a question that could probably be answered by visitors to bbceng.  The station at Moydrum near Athlone still has its original transmitters from 1932.  How does this compare with other transmitting stations around the world?  Is there anywhere else that still has transmitters from this period?  Click here to see pictures and descriptions (click on the individual thumbnail pictures).

A rapid response would be appreciated as work is presently taking place to determine the future of the Athlone transmitting station, which is no longer in service.  If you can provide any relevant information please send me an email by clicking here.

I received the enquiry from a representative of TTC International.

This Google Street View of BBC Television Centre might be of interest.  See also Last shift for TVC technology hub. And here is something from life before TVC opened: the BBC's first "television symbol".

1 Oct to 14 Nov 2013 Dave Porter has added to his series of short videos, with a guided tour of a Marconi B6124 HF transmitter. They are well worth watching if you are interested in broadcast transmitters. Click New Items above.
6 Sep to 1 Oct 2013 Sorry folks, it's been rather a long time since my last update!  Please click New Items in the menu above to see recent additions, including two more interesting articles from Dave Porter.  Dave has also produced a series of short videos in which he describes and shows an iconic Marconi BD272 HF transmitter which has been in service for about 50 years! 

The web site has stopped working a couple of times recently due to a large number of visits resulting in the bandwidth restrictions on the hosting service being exceeded.  I have now changed to a different hosting service with greater capacity, so hopefully this problem will not occur in future.

23 Mar to 6 Sep 2013 Here is a good-news story involving the BBC's first long wave transmitter (5XX)..... and the closure of Television Centre.  Click New Items in the menu above.
12 to 23 Mar 2013

There is no trace left of the ATA as it was in the Broadcasting House Extension, which has now been replaced by a new building housing the BBC's main broadcasting centre in London.  The Audio and Telecommunications Area used to be a very important operational facility, which enabled radio programmes to include live material from many distant locations.  It sounds easy, but this was not the case in the days of analogue technology and long landlines.  The ATA also provided telephone and teleprinter facilities using efficient methods that minimised operational expenditure.

The success of the ATA was due in no small part to Colin Seabright, who managed it for over 25 years.  Many staff in Communications Department had the benefit of guidance from Colin and he became one of the BBC's unsung heros who quietly kept his part of the broadcasting system running smoothly.  He died in February 2013 and is fondly remembered by many of his colleagues.  Click here to see an obituary.

29 Jan to 12 Mar 2013

The Time Machine at Funtington near Chichester includes references to BBC equipment and it is in the final of the BBC's Culture 24 "Museums at Night" Connect10 competition.  You might like to vote for it.

Joe Goodwin has put a slide show here on YouTube showing some pictures of Television Centre which he took on 1st January 2013. Brian Summers brought this to my attention - thanks Brian.

I have a number of documents that are relevant to this web site, but it is a very time consuming task to scan them.  I have just added a number of recruitment brochures (see New Items), but any help with scanning the other documents would be much appreciated!

27 Dec 2012 to 29 Jan 2013

I recently had the privilege of visiting the technical areas of a major new BBC broadcasting centre and I am pleased to report that the achievements of present day broadcast engineers are very impressive.  Obviously the technological environment has moved on considerably since the period covered by this web site.  Some things are easier and some more difficult.  One thing that has not changed is the way in which engineers still provide innovative systems at the lowest possible cost!

What has become of Kingswood Warren?  Click here for the answer. (Many thanks to Clive McCarthy for pointing this out.)

14 Nov to 27 Dec 2012 A copy of Edward Pawley's book: BBC Engineering 1922 - 1972 has just appeared here on eBay. This might be of interest to visitors to this web site as it is the ultimate reference on the subject. (The sale is nothing to do with me!)

On the BBC's 90th birthday a programme was broadcast from the Science Museum in London, in front of a part of 2LO. The technical content of this programme was minimal, so if you would like to see a more detailed presentation about 2LO, the BBC's first transmitter, click on Videos in the menu above.

15 Oct to 14 Nov 2012

Another era ends - Ceefax (developed by BBC engineers).  See Ceefax: The early days and this Ceefax page.

The last broadcast from Bush House, home of the BBC's World Service, took place on 12th July 2012.  The studio operation has now moved to Broadcasting House, but Barry Warr and Jeremy Lowe have created an interesting new web site called Normal Stop to record the technical operations and broadcast technology of Bush House since the late 1950s.  Click Reference in the menu above in order to see the link. 

The global weekly audience for BBC World Service reached 239 million recently.  Although much listening now takes place via local re-broadcasts, HF broadcasting remains very significant and a key part of this process involves scheduling HF transmitters to harness the varying propagation conditions and meet audience requirements.  Dave Porter and Dave Gallop have contributed two articles on the subject which give a good insight.  Click New Items in the Menu above.

15 Jul to 15 Oct 2012

Details of the 2012 D&ED Reunion Lunch are now on this web site.  Click on New Items in the menu above.

Everybody is aware of digital technology these days, but BBC Engineering Division pioneered digital transmission forty years ago!  It had significant benefits for most of the UK's population, because it enabled high quality stereo radio to be broadcast on the VHF/FM radio network.  Several of the key players have recently contributed to an article on the The Digits Behind BBC FM, written by Jim Lesurf, and he has kindly agreed to it being published on this web site.  See New Items in the menu above.

18 Apr to 15 Jul 2012 Congratulations to all those involved in the UK's digital switchover.  The analogue television services from Crystal Palace were switched off on the morning of 18//4/12 and there is a newspaper article about it here.  The huge and complex switchover project has been a great success and it demonstrates the fine abilities and dedication of many people.

The switchover project is very impressive, but the technology on which it is based is even more astounding.  This web site covers the period up to 1997 and in most of that time it was almost unbelievable that so many television services could be broadcast within the radio spectrum that is now being used.  It became possible as a result of brilliant people developing very effective digital video compression systems (MPEG) and efficient radio systems (OFDM).  Also of course, these processes could only be implemented as a result of advances in micro-electronics.

Hopefully this good-news story will inspire more young people to become engineers!

The digital switchover celebratory light show at Crystal Palace somewhat trivialises the DSO achievement, but there are some good pictures of it here.  The name Arqiva is on the tower because this is the company that fairly recently became the owner.  The tower was built by BICC in 1955, under contract from the BBC's Engineering Division.

24 Feb to 18 Apr 2012

BBC World Service programmes were originated for the first time from the new Broadcasting House studios on 11 March 2012.  Click here to see interesting information about 80 years of international broadcasting.  Click here for information about Bush House.

Steve Gutteridge has kindly provided a large number of BBC Engineering press releases for this web site and they can be accessed by clicking Eng Inf in the menu above.  They describe many significant developments between 1980 and 1994, so they are sure to be of interest to many of this web site's visitors.  Steve provided the files of scanned documents and I put them on the web.  If you feel inclined to help by listing the contents then please let me know!

9 Jan to 24 Feb 2012 Hello Paul Dunn!  If you see this would you please get in touch regarding the Daventry museum.
8 Nov 2011 to 9 Jan 2012

At long last I have cleared the backlog of items that have been emailed to me for inclusion on the web site!

An Engineering Training Supplement with the title "Some Fundamental Problems in Radio Engineering" has just appeared on eBay.  As this might be of interest to visitors to this site, here is the link.

10 Sep to 8 Nov 2011

Here is some news about Droitwich: Radio 4's long wave goodbye.

The Rampisham transmitting station is due to close by the end of 2011 after 70 years of service. It is a major high power HF (short wave) station and this sad event will result in the end of yet another era. Many people have worked at Rampisham and I hope that BBCeng will be able to record memories of this great site. Martin Rumens (ex-Engineering Manager at Rampisham) put forward this idea and he has kindly volunteered to collate your contributions, prior to publication on this web site. Any relevant contribution would be most welcome: long or short, text and/or pictures. Please click here to contact Martin Rumens (I will forward the email to him). It would be particularly helpful to have information prior to the closure please.

Click here for details of the next D&ED re-union lunch on 9 November 2011 and pictures from the 2010 lunch.

5 May to 10 Sep 2011

Here is a link to a YouTube video that was made in March 2011: The end of BBC World Service on 648KHz.

"Rampisham transmitter site to close by Christmas".

I have several items from contributors which I need to publish on the web site and I will try to do this by the end of May 2011. Sorry, too busy!  September perhaps.

.....However, BBC World Service enthusiasts might like to go along to the Daventry Festival on Tuesday 19 July. Click here for details.

14 Feb 2011 to 5 May 2011

This video is likely to interest visitors to bbceng.info:-
Tribute to BBC 648 kHz Orfordness - The Enthusiast's Version by Jonathan Marks.
Many thanks to Mike Barraclough for letting me know about it.

The second part of Dave Porter's article about the MWT BD228A 50 kW MF transmitter installed at BBC Brookmans Park, in 1961, has now been added to Technical Reviews (see menu above).

"BBC Engineering Practice" - Two books of BBC Engineering Technical Instructions appeared here on eBay.  As I expected, £75+ was rather optimistic and there were no bids!  However I now know who bought them (at a fraction of the original asking price).

20 Dec 2011 to 14 Feb 2011

If you are interested in the history of television technology, you might like the BBC Monograph on Pulse and Bar testing by Les Weaver of Designs Department.  A copy has just appeared for sale on eBay

David Porter has contributed another detailed technical article which will be enjoyed by transmitter enthusiasts.  This one is about the MWT BD228A medium wave transmitter, as installed at Brookmans Park about 50 years ago. Click New Items in the menu above.

After discovering some unsold copies of the book On Air in my loft, and advertising them on this web site, I was amazed that 20 went within 10 days.  No more are available and there is no plan for a re-print.

5 Dec to 20 Dec 2010

At last!  I have now updated the web site to take account of all relevant emails that I have received up to 7 December 2010.  Many thanks to all contributors.  As usual, click New Items in the menu above to find out what changes have occurred. 

In particular, please note that Dick McCarthy has contributed an interesting account of developments at Television Centre.

Some copies of On Air are available. See the picture on the right. 

The web site was unavailable for a few days at the end of November 2010, due to the monthly bandwidth allowance being exceeded. By examining the web site's statistics I discovered that certain large files were downloaded several hundred times, so I have temporarily removed them.  It is pleasing to know that the site appears to be well used, but I don't want to pay extra for more bandwidth!  Let me know if you have an urgent need for one of the missing files.

29 July to 5 Dec 2010

The next Design & Equipment Department Reunion Lunch will be held on Wednesday 10th November.  Please click here for details.
I have received a number of items for the web site since my last update in July.  I planned to add them by the end of October but didn't make it!  I'll now try to do this by the end of November 2010.
The final part of David Porter's interesting series of AM transmitter/combiner articles is now available.  Click Technical Reviews in the menu above to see them all.

25 May to 29 July 2010

Two annual prizes have been established at Imperial College, London, in memory of Ivor Tupper.  See near the foot of this page for details.

Listen to 2LO - click New Items in the menu above.

26 Apr to 25 May 2010 An organisation called Maxonline, based in Singapore, appears to have downloaded this entire web site.  Unfortunately this has resulted in the monthly 'bandwidth' limit being reached - very nearly.  If it is exceeded then the web site might be made inaccessible until the start of the next month.
9 Apr to 26 Apr 2010

The BBC evidently had several Novachords during WWII and one of the most famous users was Arthur Young who played with Vera Lynn in many of her recordings.  This topic is a little outside the scope of BBCeng.info but many visitors will probably be interested to know that one of these 70 year old, 1/4 ton, 163 tube beasts is now restored, operational and has been sampled professionally.  A web site www.novachord.co.uk dedicated to this amazing monster has been set up . You can see pictures, videos, audio demos and even download a taster of the world's only professional sample archive of a 1939 Novachord.  (See also: Novachord on the Info Exchange page.  Many thanks to Dan Wilson for providing this information.

At last! I have now dealt with the backlog of items that were sent to me during the winter.

4 Feb to 9 Apr 2010

Were you an engineer in BBC Radio or External Broadcasting 30 years ago?  If so, how much can you remember?  You might like to try the exam linked from the Training page! (See menu above).

The achievements of staff at BBC Research & Development are of the highest order in the world of broadcasting and for many years "Research Department" was a major part of BBC Engineering Division.  Their home for the last 60 years or so was Kingswood Warren, but they have now moved and if you click on this link you will be able to see a video of their new premises.  (Thanks to Richard Russell for telling me about this blog).

"An Underground Room in the BBC Building" - If you type this into the Name field of the search box on the Imperial War Museum Collections web site then you will see some art from 1943 (Thanks to Martin Briscoe for pointing this out).

Regrettably some of the messages that I receive are notifications about people who have died.  As a result I have now set up an additional page.  See "Deaths" in the menu above.

I have a backlog of 5 items to go on the web site and I'm gradually working through them.

15 Jan to 4 Feb 2010

Visitors to this web site who have an interest in Eagle Towers, might be interested to know that one is presently [was] available on eBay. (Many thanks to Simon who provided this information.)

I still have have a few items that need to be added to this web site and I hope to be able to do this by late January 2010, so please return.

30 Nov 2009 to 15 Jan 2010

If you have seen a reference to this web site in the recent edition of Prospero (the newspaper for retired BBC staff) then you might wish to click here to see information and pictures from the recent Transmission reunion.

I have a few items that need to be added to the web site and I hope to be able to do this by early January 2010, so please return.

The Receivers link in the menu above has pointed to a blank page since this web site started.  I am delighted to report that, thanks to Vaino Lehtoranta, it now records an important part of BBC engineering history.  The word Tatsfield used to strike fear into the minds of many BBC Technical Assistants like me, as one of the functions of this Receiving Station was to check that operators had set up BBC HF transmitters correctly.  In reality Tatsfield carried out a valuable function which contributed to the BBC's reputation for high quality services. 

23 Oct to 30 Nov 2009 There will be a memorial service for Charlie Sandbank (click to see life history) at All Souls Church in London on 24 November 2009 at 3.30p.m.  Audrey Sandbank would be very pleased to see Charlie’s friends and colleagues at the service.  If you wish to attend RSVP to Audrey@bbceng.info.  Emails to this temporary address will be sent to Audrey (only), but she will not be able to enter into correspondence at this stage.  Dr Charles ("Charlie") Sandbank was the BBC's Deputy Director of Engineering in the late 1980's and remained active in ETSI, DVB, ITU and other circles for many years.
23 Oct to 12 Nov 2009

Pictures taken at the Transmission Reunion are now available.  Click here.

Pictures taken at the 2008 D&ED Reunion are now available.  Click here

Bill Chad, who worked in BBC Research Department, has passed away. The funeral will be on 9 November.

22 Sep to 23 Oct 2009

BBC Designs Department was closely involved with development of the BBC Microcomputer and many BBC Micros were used in the BBC.  Therefore visitors to this web site might be interested in the docudrama Micro Men which is presently [no longer] available on iPlayer.  If this does interest you then you might also like to read Richard Russell's History of BBC Basic - see the link on this page.

If my note about the Novacord last month (see Info Exchange) was of interest to you, then you might like to read this blog.

David Porter has contributed another interesting article.  This time it is on two separate transmitter sites, both hurriedly engineered in the Second World War - Aspidistra and OSE5.  See Technical Reviews in the menu above.

25 August to 22 Sep 2009

The BBC's "The One Show" on 14 September featured Skelton transmitting station.  Click here to see the programme on the BBC's iPlayer.  The item is 17 minutes 50 seconds from the start and lasts about 4 minutes.  The clip is also available here on YouTube (it was not uploaded by BBCeng).  Senior Transmitter Engineer Russell Barnes takes part and he also provided the pictures for an article on Skelton that appears in BBCeng. 

Here is a piece of kit to give BBC old-timers a warm glow!

You can read about this and see many other interesting pictures on the Flickr site run by Russell Barnes.

The next Designs & Equipment Department Reunion will be held on 11 November 2009 and details are given here.

The next Transmission Reunion will be held on 22 October and details are given here.

Woodlands, the "home" of Studio Capital Projects Department, has gone to Imperial College.  Click here for more.  Thanks to Geoff Woolf who provided this information.

The Novachord had nothing to do with BBC engineering as far as I know, but as it contained 163 valves it might be of interest to some of this web site's visitors!  See Info Exchange in the menu above.

25 July to 25 August 2009

More sad news:
Ex-Senior Transmitter Engineer and acting AEiC at Daventry, Simon Saint died in March 2009.
Ex-Diesel Maintenance Team Supervisor, Les Reece died in August 2009.
They were both well-known by many people who worked on BBC transmitter sites.

Many ex-BBC transmitter engineers who are older than about 60 will have tuned a VFO-4 transmitter drive.  It was a key element of the BBC's short wave broadcasting system during the Second World War and up until the 1970s.  Now you can read a detailed technical article, written by David Porter, about the VFO-4 and it's associated harmonic generator.   Click Technical Reviews, in the menu above.

15 June to 25 July 2009

I am very sorry to report that Peter Tingey died on 8 July.  He was a well known figure in the world of broadcast engineering and will be missed by many ex-colleagues.  The funeral will be held on Monday 20 July near Peterborough.  If you plan to attend and need further details, please click here to send me an email.  Kaye Tingey has been in touch with me and we agreed that I would provide funeral details on request. 

Payment is now needed for the Transmission Reunion.  Please click TX09 for details.

14 May to 15 June 2009

Welcome to readers of Prospero No.4 (the newspaper for retired BBC staff).

104 people have contacted Peter Condron to express interest in the next Transmission reunion.  If you are interested PLEASE contact him now!  Hopefully TX09 will be at least as popular as last time when 149 attended, but Peter and Sue need to establish the approximate number soon, due to the booking requirements of the venue. Your expression of interest will not commit you to pay, but if you think it is likely that you will attend then please get in touch with Peter.  Please pass this message to others you know who might be interested.  Click TX09 in the box on the right.

Geoff Platts has contributed a very interesting article on the Background to and Engineering of VHF/FM Radio Broadcasting in the UK.  This development was a very significant achievement by BBC Engineering and I am delighted that Geoff, who was a major player, has put this information on record.  See New Items in the menu above.

Information about Site Acquisition Section was conspicuous by its absence until a few months ago when George Bath wrote about it.  Now I am pleased to report that Alex Rothney has contributed a further article.  See New Items in the menu above.

 

3 Apr to 14 May 2009

Here is a new book that might be of interest to visitors to this web site:
Struggle for Unity: Colour Television, the Formative Years, By Russell W. Burns
(I do not have a copy, but I read about it on an IET email.)

Due to the success of the Transmission Reunion held in 2007, another one will take place in 2009.
The box on the right will remain in place until the event.  Please click TX09 to see the latest information.

3 Mar to 3 Apr 2009

Martin Briscoe has contributed a DVD containing over 5000 photographs taken at transmitting stations and some of them are now on BBCeng.  See New Items in the menu above.

We take frequency accuracy and stability for granted these days, but it was not so easy in the early days of broadcasting and some pioneering work was done in the BBC to address this issue.  David Porter has recently written an interesting article on the subject and it is reproduced on this web site with kind permission from The Vintage and Military Amateur Radio Society.  Click on Technical Reviews above to see the article.

6 Feb to 3 Mar 2009
 
Which BBC transmitting station was this? 
Click the picture for an enlargement.

Answer (provided within 7 hours!)....A contributor identified it as a picture taken at Daventry in the early 1930s when short wave transmitters were only housed in the Empire Building, where the service started in 1932.  (Work on a new building started in early 1936.) 

Engineering Personnel Department ran management conferences for many years and this helped a number of engineers to develop more skills as their careers developed.  About 300 attendees are presently shown in conference photographs on BBCeng and this page now includes a link to a typical conference programme.

Site Acquisition Section is now featured on this page courtesy of George Bath.  He hopes that the record of its history will be developed further by some of his ex-colleagues.

The book On Air has now sold out.
 

30 Dec to 6 Feb 2009 Jack Paley has contributed a brochure for the 1972 Engineers-in-Charge Annual Meeting, which marked 50 years of BBC engineering. It includes a page written by the Director of Engineering, who was soon to become Sir James Redmond. (See New Items in the menu above.)
 
From the Eagle comic.

Click the image for details.

 

Visits to this web site in 2008 have increased by about 60% compared with 2007.  Click here for details.

I have not been recording the addition of course photographs on the New Items page, but I am pleased to report that quite a lot of pictures have been sent in.  Contributors are acknowledged above the pictures.  In order to see them click Training in the menu above.

 

5 Dec to 30 Dec 2008 Many visitors to this web site will know of Dr Charles ("Charlie") Sandbank.  He was the BBC's Deputy Director of Engineering in the late 1980's and remained active in ETSI, DVB, ITU and other circles for many years.  This is to let you know the sad news that he died on 15 December.  Some details are available in Times Online.  I hope that an obituary will become available for publication on this web site.  He was an influential figure in the BBC and a very likeable individual.

The book BBC Engineering 1922-1972 is difficult to obtain, but there is a copy for auction on eBay at present.

On Saturday 13 December 2008 the BBC broadcast an episode of Dad's Army that had not been seen in colour for decades.  The original videotape recording was erased many years ago and only a monochrome film copy survived, but it has now been converted back into colour.  In my opinion it is very good colour too.  This amazing achievement is the result of software written by Richard Russell, who is a contributor to this web site.  Although this development is outside the scope of BBCeng.info I thought that it would be of interest to visitors.  Click here for an article in The Guardian and note the correction here.

There are now (20 December) just 8 copies of On Air left for sale, so please hurry if you would like to buy.

George Bath has contributed an interesting film of the Dodford mast being demolished.  Click on Videos above.

Bert Gallon and David Sandbrook have added many names to the caption of a picture showing ex-transmission staff at a reunion in 1989.
 

16 Oct to 5 Dec 2008 I am very pleased to announce a major addition to this web site.  Norman Tomalin's book "Daventry Calling The World" is now available for download.  In the menu above [on the Home page] click Books and then, near the top of the new page that is displayed, click Daventry Calling.   [I had to remove the book on 24 Nov 2008 in order to prevent the monthly download allowance for this web site being exceeded......Phew! 96% of the monthly allowance was reached, just avoiding the web site being suspended by the web hosting company. The book is now available for download once again.]

 

BBC Engineer at work.....

Geoff Platts working on a VHF translator in Designs Department, 1960.
(click picture to enlarge)

 

Geoff has provided several interesting contributions for BBCeng.  Click New Items in the menu above.

 

1 Oct to 16 Oct 2008

I am sorry to report that George Monteath died on 20 September 2008.  He was Head of BBC Research Department form 1976 to 1978 and he was an expert in radio frequency technology.

Here is a very nice picture, taken by Martin Briscoe, of the QE2 going past the transmitting station at Rosneath for the last time.

 

19 Sep to 1 Oct 2008 I am sorry to report that two more influential BBC engineers have died recently - John Gealer and Alan Herbert.  John died on 12 June 2008 and is probably best remembered  for the expert guidance that he gave to very many engineers who attended his courses at the Engineering Training Department.  Alan, who died on 6 September 2008,  joined the BBC in 1936 as a “Student Apprentice" and went on to to be a leading light in the development of HF antennas.  He left the BBC in 1970, but some years later he made a major contribution to On Air
 
27 Aug to 19 Sep 2008

Many ex-BBC engineers will be saddened to learn that Geoffrey Goodship has died, aged 90. Some memories from his career can be seen in a new article: click here.  His funeral will take place at 12 noon on Monday 8th September at St. Katharine's Church, Merstham, Surrey.  Family flowers only please and donations to Harris Hospice Care and Cancer Research UK, c/o Stoneman Funeral Service, Doran Court, Redhill, RH1 6AZ.

Stately Decline, an article in The Guardian about the demise of Kingswood Warren, can be seen by clicking here

Visitors to this web site would probably enjoy going to Washford Radio Museum, which is housed inside a large ex-BBC transmitter site.  It has recently acquired a new sign, pictured below.  The dish came from the tower at Ardgour in Scotland.  Thanks are due to Martin Briscoe for sending the picture.

5 Aug to 27 Aug 2008 Many ex-BBC engineers will be saddened to learn that John Shelley has died, aged 85.  Funeral: 6 August 2008.  He was a key figure in Designs Department for many years, starting in Neville Watson's Television Transmission Section and retiring as Head of Monitoring & Control Section.  A search on this web site will reveal some aspects of his work and hopefully information will be added to the Designs/Reminiscences/Memory Lane section in due course. [Done - click here]
 
1 Jul to 5 Aug 2008

Back in 2003 David Porter arranged for the editors of Short Wave Magazine and Practical Wireless to visit Woofferton and he provided a guided tour of this big, interesting and important HF transmitting station.  Two articles were published as a result of the visit and they are now reproduced in BBCeng.  Permission to publish is gratefully acknowledged.  See Transmitter Operations/Specific Transmitter Sites/Woofferton from the menu above.

A "Job Lot Of Vintage BBC Racks Modules / Bits n Bobs" has just appeared on eBay.

"Aspidistra" was not a BBC transmitter, but visitors to this web site might be interested in these pictures of it (with thanks to Clive Warner for contacting BBCeng and providing the link).

A day at the "office" for a BBC transmitter engineer.....
 

Martin Briscoe has made a large number of his transmitter pictures available, including this one of Torosay.  They can be accessed by clicking on Transmitter Operations/Reminiscences (see last item on list).   More to follow.

If you would like to see a moving 360 degree panoramic view from Glengorm on the Isle of Mull, which includes the above scene, then you can click here to download a 2.3MB .exe file.  Open it, then click on the "Play" right arrow or drag.  As it is potentially harmful to download an executable file you might find that you need to unblock it on your computer.  The file has been virus checked, but you download it at your own risk!

 

1 May to 1 Jul 2008

Following my earlier notification about the sale, some visitors to bbceng might be interested to know that the book "BBC Engineering 1922 - 1972" was recently up for auction on eBay.  The seller started the auction at £89.99 but there were no bidders.  In the past I have seen one changing hands for £112 !  I had no involvement or financial interest in either of these auctions and I only know about them because I have an automatic search for "BBC Engineering" set up on eBay.

......On reading the above, Phil Brooks sent me an email pointing out that Amazon are currently listing three copies of Pawley’s book.  Prices range from £213 for one in ‘acceptable’ condition to £315 for a ‘very good’ copy.  Looks as though we all missed a bargain on e-bay!

......At the opposite extreme, Roger Beardsley has emailed to say that bargains are still to be had on eBay because he picked up a copy of BBC Engineering a few weeks ago for 22 Euros! From a chap in Italy!

......And now I see that, following the failed auction above, the book is back on eBay starting at £60.  [It sold for £122]

-----
Auntie’s 45 Year Love Affair with ET4336.  What's this about? Click here.

An article about this web site has just appeared in Prospero, the newspaper for retired BBC staff.  If this has prompted you to visit for the first time then you might like to click here to see a version of the article which contains links to relevant parts of BBCeng.  Welcome - I hope that you enjoy your visit.

Other visitors might also like to see the article linked above as it provides an introduction to the site.

Colleagues will be sad to know of the recent deaths of three ex-transmitter staff:

  • Percy Winsor, STE WooffertonF who died in late April and was buried at Yarpole.
  • Janet Jones [nee Faulkner], Woofferton Cook.  Her funeral was in late May.
  • G.F. Turner, Antenna STE and A/AEiC Daventry.  His funeral is on 3 June in Daventry.  He was 90.

About 90 group pictures of people attending courses at BBC Engineering Training have been added under the Training page (see menu above).

A film about Droitwich transmitting station being constructed in 1934 has been added to the Videos page (see menu above).  Towards the end there is a good sequence showing large rotating machines being run up and knife switches being thrown to start a transmission.  Not many people realise how much work was involved!
 

12 Mar to 1 May 2008

Ex-colleagues will be saddened to learn that Mike Barnes has died.  He was a Senior Transmitter Engineer at Wenvoe transmitting station.

Prompted by a picture sent in by Phil Brooks, I have started a collection of Wood Norton course photographs on the Training page (see menu above).  Well, it's a collection of one at present, but I have a few of my own to add soon and contributions would be appreciated please.

Pictures taken at the 2007 D&ED reunion lunch have been added here
 

21 Feb to 12 Mar 2008

I have been asked to write an article about BBCeng for Prospero, the newspaper for retired BBC staff.  If you have any views on the aspects of BBC engineering that I should highlight then please let me know.

You  might be interested to know that the book On Air has been supplied to customers in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, the USA and, of course, the UK.
 

5 Feb to 21 Feb 2008

Many ex-BBC engineers will be saddened to learn that Ivor Tupper died on Friday 1st February 2008, aged 81.  His funeral took place near Amersham on Thursday 14th February.  Donations in memory of Ivor can be made to the Parkinson’s Disease Society at www.parkinsons.org.uk or tel: 020 7932 1303.  Ivor was a talented and highly respected engineer who, amongst other things, did pioneering work on the development of pulsed klystron techniques which significantly increased the efficiency of the BBC's television transmitter network.  The picture shows him in 1984 when he was a VIP guest at the 50th anniversary of Droitwich transmitting station.

 

1 Jan to 5 Feb 2008

Martin Briscoe has kindly drawn my attention to a radio programme and a book that would probably be of interest to BBCeng visitors:

Broadcasts from the Bunker, BBC Radio Four on Monday 28th January 2008 at 8 pm.

Island Base: Ascension in the Falklands War: ISBN 978-1904445-18-0
It includes a chapter by Norman Shacklady on the BBC's involvement.  (Norman is also joint editor of On Air.)

The price of the book "On Air" has been reduced from £12.50 to £5 (plus P&P).  Only a limited stock is available and there will not be a reprint when the stock is exhausted.  So, "Hurry while the stock lasts".  Click on the picture.

Please note the new menu item above - Videos.

 

1 Dec to 31 Dec 2007

Visitors to this web site will probably be interested in the following article which tells the story of another achievement which started in BBC Engineering.  Revolution Not Evolution: The Birth of bbc.co.uk  Thanks are due to Avon Edward Foote, Associate Professor, University of North Alabama, for drawing this to my attention.

Just made it!  At the end of November 96% of the bandwidth allowance for the web site had been used (It starts from zero at the beginning of each month).  If you saw my request and avoided downloading large files - thank you.  I caused the problem by putting several videos on the web site and they turned out to be quite popular.  I have started using a different approach in order to avoid the problem in future.  The videos are now on YouTube and you can see them either by going to the YouTube web site or by looking at the relevant pages on BBCeng, where they are embedded.  I think that this solves the problem, but please let me know if you think otherwise. 

The Transmission Reunion page is now linked from Transmitter Operations (see above).

It has been suggested by Rik Brooks that it would be good to include SCPD monthly news magazines on this web site.  If you have a copy of any of the issues and would be willing to help, then would you please get in touch with me.

There are five new items in Info Exchange.

Last April David Brown sent me a video of Equipment Department and, with apologies for the long delay, I am pleased to report that you can now see it by clicking here.

I have not yet embedded all of the videos, but I'll do this soon.  (BBC Transmission - Aiming at the Future, is here.)

 

13 Nov to 1 Dec 2007

Please avoid downloading large files from this web site during November 2007 as 90% of the bandwidth allowance was used by the 15th and the site will be put out of action if the allowance is exceeded.

A video called "BBC Transmission - Aiming at the Future" was available on this web site, but on 13 Nov 2007 it was temporarily removed to avoid the bandwidth allowance for this web site being exceeded for this month.  Please return in December.

A very successful Transmission Reunion was held on 31st October 2007.  A Group photo has been added and there is a link to Prestige Photography where prints of the 'official' pictures can be ordered.  A video of this event, produced by Graham Smith, was available and provides a good record.  As above, please return in December.  If you were there and have some pictures that are suitable for publication then please get in touch (Click Info Exchange & Contact above).

D&ED Reunion on 14th November 2007.  Click for details.

 

9 Oct to 13 Nov 2007 A video called "BBC Transmission - Aiming at the Future" is now available on this web site.

A very successful Transmission Reunion was held on 31st October 2007.  New: Group photo added.  New: A video of this event, produced by Graham Smith, is now available and provides a good record.  If you were there and have some pictures that are suitable for publication then please get in touch (Click Info Exchange & Contact above).

D&ED Reunion on 14th November 2007.  Click for details.

 

20 Sep to 9 Oct 2007 Back in March 2007, Norman Marsden sent me some interesting videos on the introduction and maintenance of television transmission in Northern Ireland, and the Wenvoe open day in 1965.  I normally deal with contributions without such a long delay but, with apologies and thanks to Norman, I am pleased to announce that they are now on the web site.  See New Items above.

Jeff Longbottom has provided some good information in response to a request on the Information Exchange and Contact page (Link above).  Look for the pictures of Dinky toys.

Transmission Reunion:
Wednesday 31st October 2007

A message from Eira...

"Martin has asked me to write a few words to encourage those of you who haven't yet sent in a photo for the web site ahead of the reunion.

I've been visiting the site regularly to see how many people have posted their picture, eager to see you all smiling back at me.

It's a great idea to get your pic up on the site in advance of the reunion, think how useful this will be on the day, everyone will be able to get over seeing how well all the retired folk look alongside those still with their noses to the grindstone. I don't remember anyone being particularly shy......so come on folks, let's be having some more pics!"   Please click here.

The Queen's Award
for Technological Achievement

Queen's Award for Technological Achievement



Teams of BBC engineers have received several "Queen's Awards" over the years.  Richard Russell says that his contribution to the above award was very small, but he has added information about this and a studio lighting project to "My career in the BBC: Part 2".

I would be delighted to feature other contributors to Queen's Awards on this web site.
 

 

28 July to 20 Sep 2007

Transmission Reunion: Wednesday 31st October 2007.  201 people so far!

Click here for more information and a special offer regarding "On Air".

If you plan to attend the Transmission Reunion, please add your picture here.

Please pay now to be certain of attendance.

The BBC has kindly established an arrangement whereby circuit diagrams of old equipment can be provided.  This only relates to "BBC Coded Equipment" that was designed in-house (mainly by Designs Department) and the Terms & Conditions are given below.  The information will be provided on PDF files, in response to requests regarding individual items.  If possible, the Equipment Code should be given (e.g. AM7/11).  This web site has all of the EDI Sheets that were produced and RD&CE listings, so this might help in identifying specific items of equipment.  It is likely that most requests will emerge as a result of ex-BBC coded equipment being acquired and this probably doesn't happen very often, but we need to make sure that the BBC is not inundated so please send such requests to me for the time being.

Terms & Conditions: "Any intellectual property rights in these [circuit diagrams] are owned/licensed by the BBC. They are made available for private study use only and on the understanding that no warranties are provided by the BBC (in relation to third party intellectual property rights or otherwise) and that all liabilities relating to the individual's use of this material rest with the individual and not with the BBC".

Many thanks to all concerned at the BBC!

Pictures of flooding at Woofferton during June 2007. (Pictures taken by Julian and link provided by David Porter).

Coming soon: Video contributions on Equipment Department and Transmission team bases (received some time ago, but I need to process them for web publication.  I'm sorry about the continuing delay.). 

8 May to 28 July 2007

Alan Lafferty has kindly provided Notes on the History of Engineering Information Department and he says that he is happy for anyone who wishes to modify or dispute the material to do so!  Eng Inf, the Quarterly Newsletter for BBC Engineering Staff, was produced by EID and most issues are now back on this web site following withdrawal in April after the web site bandwidth allowance was exceeded.  Click Eng Inf in the menu above.

Martin Briscoe has drawn my attention to a very interesting site, called Wonders of World Engineering, which includes early articles on Droitwich and Television at Alexandra Palace.  See Reference in the menu above.

I am pleased to report that a major contribution from G.P. Lowery on the Skelton short wave transmitting station has been published and it is listed in the Transmission Operations/Reminiscences section.  Equivalent contributions on Daventry and Woofferton already exist, so now we need Rampisham to complete the set - any offers?

A pilot bbcmemories site has been established as part of the official BBC web site.  At present it just has a gallery of pictures and a small number of good written entries which can be accessed from a single list.  Hopefully it will develop into a large site with a suitable structure to separate specific interests and eventually I hope that it will contain many, if not all, of the items currently on bbceng.info.  I welcome the appearance of the official bbcmemories site but I plan to continue with bbceng.info for the foreseeable future, so please keep your contributions coming.  Robin Reynolds, Head of BBC Heritage, sees bbcmemories as being complementary to sites such as bbceng.info and, if you are interested, I published my views on the issue here (see the entry for 3 Feb to 21 Mar 2007).

I am delighted to report that Richard Russell has contributed "My Career in the BBC, Part 2". Richard's achievements were spectacular and I am confident that they will be of interest to every engineer involved in broadcasting. That's a bold claim, so please click on the link and judge for yourself. (Scroll to the last item in the list).

I presently have video contributions on Equipment Department and Transmission team bases.  I need to do some processing first and as a result of other commitments I do not expect to publish these videos until August. 
 

8 April to 8 May 2007

Welcome to new visitors, especially readers of Prospero (the newspaper for retired BBC staff).  If you have visited this web site as a result of David Sandbrook's Transmission reunion announcement on page 3 of the April 2007 edition, then please click above.  I hope that you will also enjoy looking at other parts of this web site as it includes many items related to transmitters and communications.

More contributions are on the way, so please return.
 

21 Mar to 8 April 2007

Please would you try to avoid downloading large files from this web site during April because my 6Gb monthly bandwidth allowance is close to being exceeded and I would like to avoid the need to pay for an upgrade.  (Looking at the Transmission Reunion page is not a problem.)

I have removed all issues of Eng Inf from the web site in order to reduce traffic, but the list of contents remains.  They were produced by Engineering Information Department and I hope that there will be a contribution describing EID at some time in the future.  As well as producing Eng Inf, the department acted as the public face of BBC Engineering.

Arqiva and National Grid Wireless combine to create unified UK communications infrastructure provider. (The domestic services of BBC Transmission became Crown Castle UK and subsequently National Grid Wireless.)

Don Bowman started with the BBC in 1941 and I am delighted to report that he has contributed his reminiscences about Daventry to this web site.  He worked on the BBC's first Long Wave transmitter (5XX) and its first Short Wave transmitter (Sender 1), so he has been able to give an account of engineering activities going back to the very early days of the BBC.
 

3 Feb to 21 Mar 2007

Welcome - especially if this is your first visit.  There are two reasons why I am expecting quite a lot of new visitors.  Firstly, news of a possible Transmission reunion (see above) seems to be spreading fast.  Secondly a link to this web site has just appeared in Prospero, the newspaper for retired BBC staff.

The site is constantly under development and there is plenty of scope for improvement, so I would be grateful for any relevant contribution that you could make.

Those who do not receive Prospero might be interested to know that articles have appeared on the subject of "BBC Memories" web sites.   Robin Reynolds, Head of BBC Heritage, says "...we want to pilot the idea [of an official BBC Memories web site], to see what works best for staff - current and retired - and how it should fit with the existing memories sites set up by former BBC staff.  Some of these appear to work well for their particular communities, and we would wish to complement rather than compete with this activity...".  This seems very encouraging and I am also pleased to see from Prospero that the thoughts of people running some of the other sites are similar to mine.  The sites featured are: www.vtoldboys.com, www.tech-ops.co.uk, www.orbem.co.uk and this one.  (In general I don't make links to external web sites open in a new window or tab and I leave it to you to do that if you wish e.g. by holding down Shift or Ctrl when clicking.)

The previous issue of Prospero asked for comments and I sent in the following, which has just appeared in the current issue:-

"Engineering memories

www.BBCeng.info has recollections of BBC engineering from about 50 contributors and it also contains many documents such as “Eng Inf - The Quarterly for BBC engineering, technical and operational staff”. It has about 1000 visits per month (30,000 hits) and contributions are welcome. I have been developing the content of this web site for about four years and I would be happy to donate it to an official web site of the type suggested in the February 2007 issue of Prospero. I agree with Ian Rutter about the need for a BBC memories website (We last met in 1966 after we joined the BBC on the same day and attended TA24 at Wood Norton). However I do have a few concerns.

Private web sites such as BBCeng.info and several others are run by enthusiasts who have sufficient background knowledge of the BBC to put the information in some form of context and structure, so I think that a method would be needed to ensure that future contributions to an official web site do not end up in an unstructured jumble. Having said that, I am aware that BBCeng has plenty of scope for improvement!

Private web sites can disappear at any time if the webmaster’s enthusiasm wanes, but the information on an official web site could be removed as a result of corporate policy or lack of interest by future generations. This would be a great pity, and it could discourage contributions, so I think it’s an aspect that needs to be addressed.

I have observed that small ‘IT’ projects run by enthusiasts are usually successful, whereas big IT projects often grind into the dust.  Let’s make sure that this project does not get unwieldy."
Martin Ellen

Roger Beckwith who runs http://www.orbem.co.uk/ says "It does worry me that my own site contains the work of many people who deserve to have their efforts preserved for posterity.  I currently keep a disc in an addressed envelope to be sent to a colleague in the event of my death."  I agree and I do something similar, but I also hope that the interest shown by the BBC will result in a further insurance policy.

To end on a lighter note, Pinky, pictured above holding the web site banner, has guarded over BBC engineers since 1928 so I chose him as the emblem for this web site.  You can find out about Pinky by clicking his picture.

Other news: Plans for Alexandra Palace TV Museum threatened.
 

12 Oct to 3 Feb 2007

 

The British Broadcasting Corporation was eighty on 1 January 2007
and BBCeng was one!     Click the cake to see some statistics.

Click here to see pictures of the receiver site at Ascension.
Click here for The Virtue of a Goniometer and some other short stories from Peter Tingey!
Click here to see a picture from the BH TV Repeater Station (G28) Staff Reunion in 1984.
Click here to see pictures from the D&ED reunion lunch held in 2006.

In 1989 two ex-Droitwich transmitter engineers, John Phillips and Peter Mellors were asked to set up a broadcasting exhibition in Droitwich as part of the Town's heritage.  At that time much of the transmitting station's original equipment had been scrapped as a result of modernisation, but some items were rescued.  The centrepiece of the display is the old transmitter control desk from the 1960 - 1989 period, rewired to simulate its original working conditions.  A recorded commentary and further exhibits illustrate the station's history.  People with an interest in the subject will find it to be well worth a visit.  In 1994 John Phillips produced "Droitwich Calling - The Story of Droitwich Transmitting Station" and I am delighted to say that he has contributed it for publication on this web site, complete with 18 additional pictures.  The result of John's work is a definitive record of this important transmitting station.

"Fifty years of transmitting at BBC Woofferton 1943 - 1993" covers the social and technical history of this major transmitting station.  It is probably the most extensive history of a short wave station that is presently available.  Jeff Cant started it in 1990 at the request of BBC Transmission management and an earlier version was issued at the time of the station's 50th anniversary in 1993.  In his retirement, Jeff has developed it much further (including 90 pictures) and I am delighted to say that he has contributed it for publication on this web site.  It is a 75 page PDF document in which Jeff weaves technical, personal and organisational issues together and paints a very interesting picture of life at the station.

A fascinating interview transcript has been added here.  It covers many aspects of BBC engineering from about 1935 to 1970, such as selection of colour TV systems, developments in sound and television transmission, outside broadcasts, standards conversion etc., etc.
 

14 Sep to 12 October 2006

Visitors to this web site might be interested in several short films that have been made available on the BBC's Creative Archive Trial.  For instance, click here and select "Television".  The trial is due to end on 29 September 2006 (although they might become available again in due course), so hurry if you want to download any of the files.  Unfortunately, for reasons explained on the BBC web site, the downloads are only available in the UK.

BBCeng.info now contains a contents list for every issue of Eng Inf (see link above), as well as PDF files of the first 40 issues.  This is a significant record of BBC engineering activities.
 

29 August to 14 Sep 2006

Happy 50th Birthday to the Crystal Palace tower, which started broadcasting BBC Television on 10 September 1956.  See A Tale of Two Towers.

As the Marconi Company played a key role in establishing the BBC, readers of this web site might be interested in an exhibition called "Wireless World: Marconi & the making of radio".   Only about 40 items of equipment, out of the 655 objects presented to the museum, are presently on display in Oxford.  Furthermore this exhibition is due to end on 1/10/06, so hopefully a better and more permanent display will be available in future.  However some excellent work has been done to catalogue all the objects and make them available for inspection on the museum's web site.

For more than 30 years, BBC engineering innovations have been presented at the annual International Broadcasting Convention.  There was a time when some of the BBC's engineers travelled to IBC in Amsterdam by plane, but now the maddest ones cycle there!  No, this is not the BBC's latest economy drive.  It is in aid of the charity Children in Need and if you would like to support this venture you can find out more by clicking here.
 

29 July to 29 August 2006

Gosh!  A copy of Edward Pawley's book, BBC Engineering 1922 to 1972, has just sold on eBay for £138.95 and three other people put in bids over £100.  I bought a copy in 1972 and it does not leave my house, but I hoped to buy an extra copy to offer on loan to people using this web site.  However the price went up so fast in the last few minutes of the auction that my £102 bid was not even accepted.  I think that the price probably reflects the fact that it is an excellent book which records how engineers enabled the BBC to develop into what many believe was the World's best broadcasting organisation.  I would be interested to know how many copies were printed, but I don't expect it was many and most of them are now probably owned by retired BBC engineers.  I just hope that owners have marked their books clearly, so that the value and rarity is fully appreciated by their heirs.

The mast at Lisnagarvey has a very unusual shape.  There is nothing like it anywhere else in the UK and only very few in the world.  Find out more by clicking here. 

An account of early developments in the BBC's National and International television outside broadcasts has been added here.

An account of the first colour television from London to Moscow has been added here.

This web site now has its first streamed video!  The Open Day at Holme Moss in 1961 was rather special in the history of BBC Transmission, as there were nearly 8000 visitors.  Fortunately it was captured on film.
 

25 May to 29 July 2006

National PCM Changeover  -  Scary Engineering has been added to Comms Project Reminiscences and it includes a 42 page Commemorative Colour Brochure about an interesting project that took place in 1993.

Polytetrafluorethylene Plastic Bearings and Esther Rantzen - what do they have in common?  -  Answer

A Web Site Guide
page has been added (see menu).

Eng Inf - The first 30 issues are now available on this web site.  This Quarterly Newsletter for BBC Engineering Staff between 1980 and 1993 is an excellent record of BBC engineering activities.  The relevant page can be seen by clicking Eng Inf in the coloured menu area above.

Pictures taken at a most enjoyable leaving party for Nick Davies have been added.

BBC press release - This announcement is relevant to people interested in BBC Transmission/CCI/NGW.
 

26 April to 25 May 2006 Crystal Palace - Geoff Platts has contributed an article that he originally wrote for "The Veteran".  He recalls the rivalry between the BBC and IBA as ITV launched its London service in 1955.

80 Monographs have been made available here on the BBC web site.

Eng Inf
- The Quarterly Newsletter for BBC Engineering Staff between 1980 and 1993 is an excellent record of BBC engineering activities.  Some issues are now available on this web site.  The relevant page can be seen by clicking Eng Inf in the coloured menu area above.

Reference documents - A full list of Registered Designs and Coded Equipment has been added under Designs

Information Exchange - See the menu above.  Please make use of this new page.

Woofferton
- Ancient & Modern  and  Memories of Kranji on Singapore Island have been contributed by Richard Buckby.  See Transmission Operations - Reminiscences.

More Pictures of people associated with communications projects have been added, following a most enjoyable gathering at BBC Television Centre for David Russell's retirement from the BBC.

 

18 Mar to 25 April 2006
Woofferton - Ancient & Modern  and  Memories of Kranji on Singapore Island have been contributed by Richard Buckby.  See
Transmission Operations - Reminiscences.

Coming soon:  Eng Inf - The Quarterly Newsletter for BBC Engineering Staff between 1980 and 1993.

Pictures of people associated with communications projects have been added, following a most enjoyable gathering at BBC Television Centre for David Russell's retirement from the BBC.  More pictures from this event will be added soon.
 

17 Feb to 17 Mar 2006
Pictures of people associated with communications projects have been added, following a most enjoyable gathering at BBC Television Centre for David Russell's retirement from the BBC.

Statistics: BBCeng had 490 "unique visitors" (7011 pages/22442 hits) in February, compared with 274 in January.  Pleasing.

Ascension:  Phil Brooks has contributed a fascinating article about life on Ascension Island, starting in the early days soon after the BBC's arrival.  David Dunmall has contributed some additional pictures.
 

1 to 16 Feb 2006
So far so good:  During its first month of operation, Jan 06, this web site had 274 "unique visitors" who viewed a total of 8315 pages, which is very encouraging.  Thank you for your support.  More contributions are in the pipeline so please return from time to time.
 Unique visitors = different people (not including "Robots"). 

"On Air" is now available!

A reprint of the book On Air - A History of BBC Transmission is now available.
It can be ordered via this web site.  Please click here for more information.
 

1 to 30 January 2006

 


With thanks to the BBC and Paul Whiteing, the web site now includes every Design Information Sheet produced between 1969 and 1993.  This is a major addition.

Search:  It is now possible to search within this web site.

On Air:  A reprint of the book On Air is likely to be available in January 2006.  If you are already on the waiting list then I will contact you as soon as the books are available.

Pinky:  Try clicking on the beastie!