|In 1923 BBC engineering research and development work took place in a room
on the third floor, west wing, of the IEE building at
Savoy Place, London. This was the BBC's original head office -
No.2 Savoy Hill (following a move from temporary accommodation in Marconi
More space was soon needed, so the fledgling
engineering division moved its Development Department to
87 Kings Avenue, Clapham
in south London - the former residence of the
governor of Brixton Prison.
Outside the front door there stood two "beasties", lion-like
creatures about 4ft high, which had been made
by one of the prisoners. Apparently it was intended for the pair to
hold shields, but the prisoner was released before he had time to make them.
Little did he know that one of his creations would be seen, in the next
century, holding a web site banner.
They were originally painted cream but over the years became
just dirty white, until Avenue House was repainted by Bill Picket. He
was a notable character with a sergeant major-type waxed and pointed
moustache, who was so taken with the beasties that he seemed to spend more
time on them than on the house. He finished them in a dark chocolate
colour with teeth and claws in gleaming white and tongue in red. He
managed to produce a most wicked look in their eyes.
When Equipment Department moved to Chiswick in 1958 the new
building was also named Avenue House and the beasties moved there.
Equipment Department moved
out of Avenue House in 1993 and the beasties moved to Kingswood Warren in
Surrey, home of BBC Research & Development for many years. When
the BBC sold this establishment the beasties moved to Centre house (near
Television centre) which was the
new home of part of Research & Development. They are now (2020) in The
Compound at the Broadcast Centre in White City.
They have guarded over BBC
engineering buildings for nearly a hundred years, so it is appropriate to
feature one of them on the home page of this web site. At some point
they were named Gryphon and George. George is holding the
web site banner.