Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
web site is:

Books that are relevant to the history of broadcasting technology

Home On Air Daventry Calling


This table includes download links, but please note that the downloads are for personal use only and may not be used for re-publication in any form.  Where possible the copyright holder has given permission for this web site to make scanned copies available.  Due to the age of some publications it is not feasible to identify the present copyright holder, but it is believed that the nature of the publication is such that the availability of downloads is acceptable.  If the availability of any download gives cause for concern, please make contact.


Eckersley Aerial Design 1929.pdf

Extracts from the staff magazine Ariel:

June 1938, December 1938, May 1939, October 1939.

(Found in a second hand book shop and contributed by Tony Smith.)


BBC History:
Broadcasting From Within

by C. A. Lewis. 1924
It is an account of the very first year of the BBC, dedicated to J. C. W. Reith, M. D. of the B.B.C. and the Preface is by Lord Gainford as first Chairman of the B.B.C. C.A. Lewis was 'Organiser of Programmes'.

Digital Audio Broadcasting:

Introducing DAB - booklet 1995



BBC Engineering Training Manual - Microphones(Robertson).pdf


BBC Engineering Training Manual - Microphones (WW).pdf


BBC Engineering Training Manual 1974

Broadcasting Aspects of Radio Wave Propagation and Transmitter Network Planning at Frequencies above 30MHz.


Eckersley's Areas 1929.pdf

Long-Wave and Medium-Wave Propagation 1958

H.E.Farrow and C.P.Bell


BBC Recording Training Manual.pdf

Radio Engineering:
Frequency Modulation Engineering




High Quality Sound production and Reproduction



Studio Engineering for Sound Broadcasting



A Manual of Television Stereo


BBC Engineering Training Manual 1942

This book gives information on all aspects of the broadcasting chain used by the BBC at the time.



Sound And Television Broadcasting - General Principles 1961

A BBC Engineering Training Manual in the form of a Wireless World book.


On Air - A History of BBC Transmission

Was on sale via this we site.
It is now available for download.
Click link for more information.


Daventry Calling The World

This is a detailed account of a very important BBC transmitting station.  It tells the story of the site, the engineering systems and the people involved.  If you liked On Air, you will like this book! 

author: Norman Tomalin

publisher: Caedmon of Whitby

year: 1998

isbn: 0905355 46 6


Skelton, Penrith and the World 1943 - 1993

A personal account by the author Ken Davies.

Following my request I have been notified that Cumbria County Council, the publishers of this book, would have no objection to it being on bbceng.  Unfortunately I have not been able to contact Ken Davies but, given the nature of the publication, I think it is likely that he would approve. He clearly wanted to celebrate the achievements of everyone involved with Skelton transmitting station and his efforts in compiling this record are gratefully acknowledged.




The books listed below are not on bbceng, but they are relevant to BBC Engineering and some links to external download/purchase websites are included.

BBC Engineering 1922-1972


This is the most comprehensive record of BBC Engineering during this period.  It has 569 pages packed with information.  It was scanned by Nick Cutmore and the (searchable) result was put on the official BBC website in January 2020.  Click on the link above.


The book has been out of print for many years but sometimes it can be obtained from libraries and second-hand bookshops such as Kelly Books. Copies also sometimes appear on eBay.


author: Edward Pawley OBE, MSc(Eng), C Eng, FIEE

publisher: BBC Publications.  Year: 1972

isbn: 0 563 12127 0

BBC Handbooks

The BBC "Hand Book" was first issued in 1928. By 1930, it became the BBC Year Book and later it reverted to Handbook, as well as other titles. It was published nearly every year through to 1997, with a review of the year's programming, cultural and technical achievements.

The above link goes to a web site that contains PDF files of nearly every issue.  Martin Ellen has all of the files as well - just in case they disappear from the American Radio History site.

The Story of Broadcasting House: Home of the BBC. 

Recommended by an ex-BBC engineer: "great book with loads of interesting photos. Some references to early transmitters."

The book can be purchased via the above link.


Seventy Years Before The Masts

This is a detailed account of work carried out to plan the BBC's transmitter services. 

Here is a note about the book in Prospero (the newspaper for retired BBC staff.)

author: Ron Sandell

(Kindle book)

The BBC at Savoy Place 1923-1932: 2LO calling, the 1998 IEE Archives

Interesting pictures, but not much about transmitters.
publisher: IEE
year: 1998
isbn: 033508


The Emergence of Broadcasting in Britain
This is a very human account, from the dawn of radio to the attainment of a Royal Charter in the late 1920s. It tells of the struggles and frustrations of engineers in developing innovative equipment.
author: Brian A Hennessy
publisher: Southerleigh
year: 2005
isbn: 0-9551408-0-3
ISBN-13: 978-0955140808

2MT Writtle: the birth of British broadcasting.

A good book describing events leading up to the start of the BBC, with particular emphasis on transmitters and characters such as P.P.Eckersley.
author: WANDER T R
publisher: Capella
year: 1988
isbn: 0-946443-10-6


Island Base: Ascension in the Falklands War
An important piece in the jigsaw of the history of the Falklands War.  It includes a chapter by Norman Shacklady on the BBC's involvement.  (Norman is also joint editor of On Air.)
author: Captain Bob McQueen
publisher: Whittles Publishing
year: 2007
isbn 978-1904445-18-0

Prospero's Wireless

A biography of P.P. Eckersley by his son Myles Eckersley. It contains a lot of interesting material about the background to early BBC engineering developments.

Publisher:  Myles Books

Year: 1997, Revised 1998.

isbn: 0 9531625 0 8



The early history of radio: from Faraday to Marconi.

A good book covering the period before the emergence of broadcasting.  Useful for learning about wireless developments right from the start.
author: GARRATT G R M
publisher: IEE
year: 1994
isbn: 0-85296-845-0

Guglielmo Marconi.

publisher: Marconi Co.
year: 1974
isbn: 005050


A history of the Marconi Company

author: W J Barker
publisher: Methuen & Co
year: 1970
isbn: 007907


The Marconi Company, jubilee year.

publisher: Marconi's Telegraph Wireless Company Limited
year: 1947
isbn: 007652

Marconi research and development.

year: 1963
isbn: 017597

The Marconi book of wireless.

publisher: Marconiphone-Co.
year: 1936
isbn: 1129

Television Engineering Principles and Practice
volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4


S.W Amos, D.C. Birkinshaw, J.L. Bliss

publisher: Iliffe & Sons Ltd. 

year: 1953

See Vault.

The Power Behind The Microphone

author: P.P.Eckersley (BBC's first Chief Engineer).

publisher: Jonathan Cape

year: 1941


Available from



One Last Beer          Item added May 2021

This gives us an insight into the World Leading projects the BBC conducted and International Work to establish new Broadcast Technologies and Standards.


Published in 2020 and now available as a Kindle book from Amazon.  Click link above.


For more information click here.

Most of the books above are available from the IET library.