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The restored former BBC-tv 1969 colour mobile unit, North 3 / CMCR9 was on display to the public at two steam and veteran vehicle rallies during August. The first one was at Astle Park near Chelford, Cheshire on August 11th/12th and it was a scramble for Steve Harris and his helpers to prepare for that one as North 3 was fresh out of the paint spray-shop and there were only a few days to get ready.
The truck had been at the body shop since January for a major exterior renovation. The cab windows had all been out for replacement of the windscreens and the interior had gathered a huge amount of dirt during the rubbing-down process. All the external fittings had been removed for renovation during this process and these had to be re-fitted. Bright window surrounds were covered with gunge from the masking tape used during the spraying, which could only be removed afterwards by careful use of cellulose thinners! Steve, the owner, was busy replacing the waist trims all the way round, right up to the last moment.
The weather was excellent for Astle Park and North 3 was gleaming in her new paint, which exactly conformed to the correct colours, the original codes for which were still visible, recorded on the cab facia. Visitors flocked to inspect North 3 and the static display outside. Two broadcast cameras were on display : an EMI 2001 and a recently aquired Philips PC80. A live picture and various other sources were available on the functioning vision mixer in the production gallery and wipes between sources could be demonstrated for the first time.
Two weeks later North 3 was on show at Onslow Park as a special guest at the 50th Shrewsbury Steam Rally. By this time the truck was sporting its authentic 1969 graphics, which had been revealed during the rubbing down process and were restored by an expert graphic artist using genuine gold leaf. The weather was very variable with occasional heavy showers, but large numbers of appreciative visitors came to file through the scanner and see how OBs were put together 40 years ago. The ‘mains’ feed from the show organizer’s generator proved very troublesome and Steve brought his own 6.5 kva unit for the Bank Holiday Monday and stability was restored!
Shrewsbury was the farthest south that North 3 / CMCR 9 has been on display so far and we were pleased to welcome a number of former staff from Birmingham and Cardiff as well as Manchester. CMCR 9 was the Midland Unit for most of it’s operational life and former crew members came to renew their aquaintance with ‘their’ scanner. The visitor’s book is gradually filling up and makes interesting reading.
There is one more North 3 public appearance this year and it will be in Salford in October. The scanner will be on display on the piazza at the entrance to the University of Salford building (next to the BBC) on Salford Quays. The event is an interactive exhibition called ‘From Semaphore to Smart Phone’, charting the progress of technology in communications over the years and it’s on Saturday and Sunday 27th/28th October. Details can be found using this link :-
BBC staff glancing out of the window of the Media Centre on those days may be startled to spot the last BBC Tel OBs mobile control room still on the road.
They thought it was all over !