Becky Harris

Photo of Becky Harris circa 1985. Thanks to Rani Randhawa for sharing the photo.

Becky Harris sadly died in December 2017, aged 83.

Becky joined the BBC when she was only 14, and worked for the Corporation for over 40 years. Even after she retired, she went back to work for the BBC part time! She worked in different departments over the years, starting in the post room at Carpenter Road, and including working for a Miss Bastipol (sp?) in Personnel, who was apparently very strict. She also worked in the Cash Office at Pebble Mill, as a clerk in Personnel, as secretary to the canteen manager, who I think was Stephen Davies, and for Children in Need. She was never reluctant to pick up new skills – Rani Randhawa in personnel ‘got her on the computer’. Becky knew everyone, and loved working for the Corporation, she would go to work even when she was ill, and regarded the BBC as her second home. She was particularly proud when photographed for the local paper with Ross King, to celebrate her service of 40 years.

Thanks to her daughter, Mandy Scholes, for sharing Becky’s story. Mandy herself worked for the BBC, because of Becky, who introduced her to the right people!

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

Rani Randhawa: ‘Kind, hard-working and a very funny lady – I worked with her for many many years and what she didn’t know about filing – wasn’t worth knowing.’

Marie Phillips: ‘Becky was quite simply not A Gem but THE GEM and a friend. She was unusual in loving filing and establishing systems. An absolute Master of the filing cabinet ! My Children in Need paperwork was immaculate in her hands;. she could lay her hands immediately on what was wanted. Becky and I had such fun. A loyal BBC stalwart dearly loved and missed.’

Stephen Davies: ‘I’ll remember Becky for the enormous pride and pleasure she took from her work, which she did brilliantly; and for being a wonderful friend and colleague to everyone she worked with at Pebble Mill.’

BBC Landrover and Eagle Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

The photograph shows two men working on a Marconi Mk3 camera belonging to MCR 15 or 16. Is anyone able to identify them? In the background are two Midlands Eagle Tower radio links vehicles. The Landrover was registered in 1967, so the photo might have been taken at Carpenter Road. If you can add any more information, please add a comment.

Thanks to Robin Stonestreet to letting me know about this photograph.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘It’s certainly a Midland tower in front, but I don’t recognise the location or the two guys. There were 3 land rovers in Brum in the early 70s. Two on links, one long and one short wheelbase with no side windows and a sound OB with windows. All had BBC Midland logos on. Plus there is a white building in the background, Carpenter Road was red brick. Kendal Avenue was white painted.’

David Kirkwood: ‘Fond memories of the Marconi Mk3. Not sure it’s Birmingham though equally not sure where else they still used that camera in 1967?

Glynne Dummett: ‘Operated the Eagle Tower many times, was a bitch to drive with the cage forever banging on the cab roof.’

Keith Brook (aka Scouse): ‘ Remember the Marconi from my Ally Pally days. Such fun when I sent the turret the ‘long way’ round!

 

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John Cheshire

Midlands Today studio at Broad Street. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have heard from Annie Gumbley Williams that John Cheshire died last Friday, 5th May 2017. This news was given to her by John Pierce. Both the Johns joined the BBC at Broad Street, and then moved to Pebble Mill in 1971, when the new building opened. John was a mechanical and electrical engineer, which is an unusual and very useful combination in broadcasting.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘John Cheshire was in Carpenter Road Mech workshop when I started in Services in 1971, before we moved to the Mill. He was always very obliging, nothing was too much trouble. A real gent. It is a sad loss.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘The studio shown is Studio 4, which was a Radio Studio (and I remember that Charles Parker recorded Peggy Seeger and Ewan McGregor for some of his Radio Ballads – some of which I edited). Studio 4 was converted to television with instructions that we must look after the equipment (Black and white vidicon cameras) which will be moved to Pebble Mill. Needless to say they weren’t. The previous television studio at Broad Street was Studio 1 which was EVEN SMALLER!

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Colin Pierpoint blog 5 – Birmingham Broad Street

BBC Gosta Green Studios

BBC Gosta Green Studios

BBC offices in Carpenter Rd, Edgbaston, where I think Donnellan would have worked whilst producing 'The Colony'

BBC offices in Carpenter Rd, Edgbaston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birmingham Broad Street

When I arrived in Birmingham I found that the regional centre was split into three, mainly for historical reasons. The main television studio was at Gosta Green, which had been so quickly installed in an old cinema at the start of Independent Television, that radiators were still fixed to the walls at varying heights where the audience seating used to be. I worked at Broad Street in the Sound Control Room, where there was also a television studio (Studio 1 later the larger Studio 4) for regional opt out; and teleciné. The drama studio was Studio 2. The managers were all at Carpenter Road, some distance from either operational centre, which was an excellent arrangement because you never saw them! The building was a blind school before the BBC took over, and some said it had never changed. The Midland Light Orchestra used Studio 6 at Carpenter Road, recording their music on tape machines a mile away at Broad Street, actually in the Control Room (Only the BBC could do it this way!)

I have mentioned my inability to get out of bed in the morning, and while working at Broad Street, I’m afraid I was late for work several times, especially on the 6-30 am shift. At my next annual interview I expected this to be on my report, so it was vital that I was not late for the interview. I decided to take no risks, start early and not use public transport so I wasn’t late due to the traffic. I therefore walked from my flat in Edgbaston to Carpenter Road where my Engineer in Charge (EiC) has his office.

As I went along the Hagley Road, and saw a madman attacking a nun, I knew that I was going to be  late! He had her by the arm and was dragging her along the pavement. She even asked for my help as I went past trying not to notice. The phrase “I can’t stop now, I have got my annual interview this morning” seemed to be inadequate. So I asked the man, politely, if he would mind telling me what was going on. He said “I am arresting this woman because she is a prostitute”!  Mm I see. Keep him talking I thought. As I did so I asked a passer-by to call the police from the nearby phone box on the corner of Portland Road. The man heard this, but thought it was to get the woman arrested. He said to me, “That’s right, call 99 999 99  9 99”. He’s nuts I thought. Unfortunately, the passer-by called for an ambulance, but they told me that a police car would follow. And quite quickly, a Panda car arrived. I told the officer what the man had said, and he was locked in the back of the police car, still thinking that he was to give evidence against this woman at the police station.

The officer asked other people what had happened, and at this point several brave young men now came forward to claim that they were the first to intercept and rescue the nun! She was quite distraught by now, and a woman took her to the Convent which was nearby.

So, nun back into safety, madman in police hands, I could now continue to Carpenter Road and my annual interview. There was only one problem, the interview was in five minutes, and I was still a mile away. So I went to the phone box and rang (Midland 8444 as I remember). I said that I am going to be late for my annual interview because on the way in I met a madman attacking a nun.

There was a silence from the other end. Then “ er – OK. I will tell the EiC” said with a hint of disbelief in her voice. When I arrived, something like half an hour late, my EiC just said “Congratulations on the best excuse I have ever heard”! Being late for work was never mentioned.

I must add that I received not a word of thanks from the Police, nor the Convent. It was however reassuring when I later spoke to some members of BBC staff who has seen something going on from the top of a bus in the Hagley Road. Perhaps you were one of them.

Colin Pierpoint

 

News Assistants need drawers with locks

2013-07-03 14.31.06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

This note is held in the BBC Archives, and must have been written during a check of the new facilities at Pebble Mill before the building opened in 1971, as the address included is Carpenter Road in Edgbaston, the former BBC Birmingham headquarters.

I wonder what the Chief News Assistants were keeping in their desks to necessitate the locks, or was it that other members of the newsroom were particularly light-fingered, as well as being noisy?

Radio Birmingham being fed off the ringmain was obviously an after thought and had to be added in pencil!