Photograph by Ray Lee, no reproduction without permission.
CMCR9 was built in 1969 and equipped with Pye PC80 colour cameras. It was originally based in Acton, but I believe moved to Birmingham when Pebble Mill opened. It was already in place and in use when I arrived in 1974. In 1979 it was moved to Manchester to become “North 3” which is the name most of the articles refer to it as. It remained in Manchester until 1982, when it was sold to another company.
At some point the PC80 cameras were replaced by EMI 2001 cameras. I can’t remember if that was done in Birmingham, or in Manchester, but I think it may have been in Birminham, as the studio cameras were all EMI 2001, and it would have made sense to have all the same type. I only went out with the vehicle on two or 3 trips, and one trip was to Jolly’s Club Stoke on Trent for the World Darts Championship, and I thought EMI 2001s were fitted at that time.
It covered O.B.’s all over the country and was heavily used during its time in Birmingham. Gardeners’ World at Clack’s farm was a regular venue. Match of the Day, and racing from Cheltenham, Motor racing at Donnington Park, Songs of Praise, in fact think of an O.B. Venue and it probably went there.
CMCR stands for Colour Mobile Control Room, 9 was obviously the 9th one. While in Birminhham it was known as CM1 (Colour Midland 1) when it got to Manchester it became North 3 (as their 3rd O.B. control room) They were generally referred to as “Scanners” but I don’t know exactly why.
Speaking to Steve Harris and his colleague at the show (Onslow Park Steam Rally, where the scanner was recently exhibited) I was reminded of a “joke” played by Birmingham staff when the scanner went to Manchester. As well as putting all the faulty modules they could find, and keeping the good ones for Birmingham, the interior was covered in fake cobwebs of the sort obtained from joke shops in spray cans. Apparently Manchester were not very amused!! It took them some time to get it all working again, and goes down in the legends of engineers’ tales.
The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook group:
Pete Simpkin: ‘SCANNERS. They were called ‘scanners’ for historically the very first OB van was built by Baird to transmit the Derby to London cinemas in the thirties and the vehicle’s entirety consisted of the great scanning disk which whirled round at a frightening rate converting the scene into TV signals, so the vehicle was the ‘camera’ or as such things were called in the ealy days the ‘scanning apparatus’. So for ever afterwards even when staff could get on board with their electronc system the name remained. CMCR was never quite as pioneering or exciting!’