This is the final part of Colin Pierpoint’s blog.
(After working at BBC Pebble Mill since it opened in 1971, Colin was eventually tempted away).
In June 1980 I got a permanent post as a Lecturer at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton, where I had had two previous attachments of a year. I was lucky. The Head of ETD had retired, and the new head was Dr Owen from the Open University, so on the Board I was able to talk about all the OU courses I was studying for my degree. In June 1980 I began my new career, but that didn’t mean that I left Pebble Mill for good. Part of my work was to bring courses of students on a regular trip to Droitwich transmitting station and Pebble Mill. Being recognised by staff I used to work with was very useful, and got us into all areas to see actual operational work going on. (Unlike the tours you get now; where, even if you are ex-staff you don’t even see inside a studio). One Christmas I sent boxes of chocolates to each department in appreciation of all the cooperation I had in the past. I expect they thought I had claimed them back on expenses, but in fact I paid for them myself. I was still well known at Pebble Mill on visits with my students because ex-colleagues who met me would often say “Have you been on leave? Kay Alexander said “What happened to my coffee?”
The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Stuart Gandy: ‘I remember my visit to Driotwich on my A course, but it was in autumn 1979, the year before you were there Colin. It was especially memorable because during that particular week, there had been some very bad weather and strong winds, which had actually blown down the long aerial wire that was fixed to the two masts. So you can imagine, there was a lot of activity going to to fix it. I remember they guys saying ..its not normally this busy!’
Thanks Stuart, as you say, I was not at WN yet, but I remember the LW aerial being blown down. Service was restored quickly because apparently one of the engineers had a spare aerial in his locker!
When I did start doing these visits it was one of the most rewarding parts of the job to see the students’ eyes looking into the Long Wave transmitter (T6 from memory) seeing the enormous glowing valves, and the lit 100 watt light bulb connected to between earth on the feeder and earth of the station. Also a rigger there used to start the diesel generator for us after getting s student to try to move the armature using a 6 foot long metal lever!
All good stuff, sadly the rigger retired a few years later. He should have gone freelance.
And of course on the same trip, just one site at Pebble Mill allowed us to show the Course Radio and Television, Film, VT and a live network transmission while we were there. We brought Studio Managers (destined for Radio Studios in London) Audio Assistants, and other specialist courses. A great chance to see the job being done live. I was only ever refused permission once in 13 years to enter a Radio Cubicle or Television Gallery.
Many heartfelt thanks from me to all colleagues at Pebble Mill who made this part of my job so easy, and my own career so interesting.