Opening of BBC Club

copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

This photo is from the opening of the new BBC Birmingham Club circa 1982. The original club at Pebble Mill was on the second floor of the office block. That become programme offices when the new Club building was built across the bridge over the Bourne Brook.

The photo includes:

Phil Sidey, Phil Thickett, cameraman (back row striped shirt), Gail Everett, PA (nee Herbert, back row, to the right of Sue), Brian Johnson next to Gail, Freddie Foster right, Stuart Miller (striped shirt), Peter Skinner, Assistant Accountant (extreme right middle row) Keith Jones, Building Engineering Services Manager, Colin Spears, Sue Robinson (front pink dress), Lesley Sleigh next to Sue.

Julie Hill added the following memory on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

“Ah such happy memories of the BBC Club! I used to take the Minutes of the Club meetings for extra money! Remember the crazy squirrel who used to attack us on the bridge? Highlights include watching harrier jump jet land on the grass and the whole building shook. And being tasked with stopping Larry Grayson drink. I failed….”


Stan Smith’s retirement party











Photo from Malcolm Hickman of Stan Smith’s retirement party (circa 1983/4), which was well attended by Comms Centre staff.

The following comments were posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Brian Johnson: ‘Will give it a try: Front row L to R – David Robinson, John Noble, Chris Donovan, Stan Smith, Keith Lindsey, Graham Hewitt: : Second Row L-R Shaffiq, John Nestor, Brian Johnson, Ian Gordon, Roy (Cyril) Thompson (peering over his shoulder), Glynn Benbow, Roy Winson, Jon Parker, Bob Allison, Mike Day, Fred Norton, Nigel Harris, Keith Brown, Paul Wheeldon, Derrek Smith, Malcolm Hickman,: Back Row R-L- John Malby, Phil Partridge, Guy with Glasses (??), then Graham Todd, Richard Taylor.
Can anyone fill in the (??) .

Great Photo. but what a male orientated lot we were’

Malcolm Hickman:’Guy over Roy’s shoulder is John Parker. Went to VT. Nigel Harris with beard, Keith Brown looking sideways.’

Andy Marriott: ‘Graham (on the right, with his hand on the trolley looking thing) was one of the Comms supervisors when I started.’


Derek Smith, Comms

Photo from Brian Johnson, no reproduction without permission












A wistful looking Derek Smith, in what I think is Comms.

Thanks to Brian Johnson for sharing the photograph.

Outside Broadcast – with waders

Photo from Brian Johnson, no reproduction without permission


This outside broadcast was obviously going to be a wet one, necessitating waders!

The man in the photo is Radio Links Supervisor, Billy Horne. The van is either 15 or 126, both Bedford Links Vans. According to Brian, who took the photo, Billy had just bought the waders and was persuaded to try them on.

The photograph was originally shared on the Pebble Mill Engineers Facebook group.

Thanks to Malcolm Hickman for adding information about the photograph.


Brian Johnson in the Comms Centre

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission












Brian Johnson in the Comms Centre at Pebble Mill, on an evening shift – not comedian Dave Allen on the television.

This photo was originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers’ Facebook page.

The following comments were posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook page, where I had asked what duties there would be in Comms Centre in the evening:

Malcolm Hickman: ‘At one time we knew what every button and switch did.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘We did a number of duties on evening shift. for each Midland opt out of BBC1 we extended opt out control to the Pres Desk. There was usually one at every programme junction. Contribution circuits for television were routed through BM Comms Centre from Manchester, carrying Scotland and Northern Ireland contributions, and from Norwich. There were two vision contribution channels from Manchester and two to London Switching Centre, although we could hire extra circuits from BT if necessary. Each of these extra circuits had to be tested. Sound circuits were 669, 297 and 148 from Manchester, and 136 or 276 going north. 289 from Norwich. Sound circuits to London were 549, 296, 271, 698 and 339+689 via Daventry. From London 114 and 270. All these are music circuits, which mean broadcast quality for either speech or music. All were regularily tested. Routing tests tended to be in the evening when they were less used. They were switched according to the SB chart which was issued daily by Circuit Allocation Unit in BH London. Later changes and additions came on a teleprinter in Comms Centre. Control lines associated with these bookings could carry talkback and cue programme. Control Lines into BM from London were 007 and LO-BM 30 and 31, similar to Manchester. So if there was any contribution from the regions in the evening going to London it would be routed through BM Comms. There were sometimes region to region contributions, not ending in London, and contributions from London to the regions, particularily for Scotland and Wales. At the time I worked there distribution passed through here and we were responsible for testing and maintaining circuit quality and rectifying faults. Birmingham fed Towyn transmittion station with Radio networks (R1 and R2 I think), as well as all the Midland transmitters and feeds north. We also routed circuits within the building from Studios A and B to VTR. Outside Broadcasts coming into Birmingham on radiolinks had to be tested and routed. These could be in the evening. Radio News contributions looked after themselves most of the time on the NCA network, but we dealt with any faults. However, other sound circuits could be booked for Radio, for example if there was a stereo OB from the Town Hall (later Symphony Hall) of an orchestral concert on radio 3, the lines would be tested to BM comms and then routed to London. We also took calls from listeners and viewers on technical and programme queries.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘As he is wearing a tie, I suspect he was the shift supervisor. The shift was the B shift – 15:30 until BBC 1 closedown. He would have an engineer on the same shift with him and a second engineer doing the D shift that finished at 22:00 hours. When David Stevens was on form, the Presentation show could extend the closedown by 30 mins.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘..and once went out in Northern Ireland because their opt out had already closed down and the transmitter automatic switch (TLS failure) switched over to the Midlands RBS (Rebroadcast standby)’

Steve Dellow: ‘When I was on B shift (particularly on a Sunday) I’d be ringing the Club to see whether a certain supervisor was in a state to get back to the Comms Centre so I could go home! Other times on a quiet evening I’d practice coding something with SIS (?) on the bays as if it needed feeding to LO (say). Or practice commoning up some audio circuits to the single speaker in the desk, which was useful to hear all the footy commentators starting to plug up their COOBE’s on a Saturday.’

Jane Partridge: ‘The breakfast shift was more fun… I was working in Contracts & Finance at the time, so Phil and I travelled in together and the aim was to have just had a full cooked breakfast (so there was the lingering smell of bacon) just before the A shift got in. The Comms Centre had its own kitchen, so that early and late shifts could have a hot meal.’