Birmingham Club Sports

photo by Charles White, no reproduction without permission

photo by Charles White, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Roger Mulliner, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Roger Mulliner, no reproduction without permission
























Photo of editor Charles White about to play tennis at the opening of the tennis courts at the BBC Birmingham Club. It is Nigel Chapman who is cutting the red and white safety tape ribbon.

Charles is wearing a BBC Birmingham Club T-shirt, as shown in a different colour way above.

Charles White adds the following information:

‘The Birmingham Club, after much heated debate with the committee and the football team, decided to spend 13 grand on the construction of the 2 hard-courts, which replaced the run-down courts over by the creche. Whether we ever got the money back is debatable, but about 20 regular players used the courts in the summer evenings and even at lunch breaks. Opened in 1993 I think.’

The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook Page:

Alan Fortey: ‘I think you’ll find the first the football team knew about it was seeing bulldozers digging up the pitch. One of the biggest white elephants in the Club’s history!! Still gets to me.’

Conal O’Donnell: ‘It’s certainly Nigel Chapman -he opened a tennis court & closed a radio station (C&W).’

2nd Floor Bar – photos by Peter Poole

Photos by Peter Poole, no reproduction without permission.

The photos show the bar on the 2nd floor of Pebble Mill, before it was moved to the new Club building in the mid 1980s. The 2nd floor bar proved to be a creative melting pot, where staff from all departments mingled after recordings, at lunch time and at the end of the day.

The photos include Liz Nicholls, Martin Harris, Sharon Pemberton, John Allen, Gail Herbert and Geoff Watts.

Please add a comment if you can identify any others.

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

Maggie Humphries: ‘Peter Skinner from Finance and Geoff Watts another couple of names’.

Janet Collins:  ‘I think it’s Sue Brown in a couple of photos’.

Susan Astle: ‘Definitely Sam from makeup -is she standing next to Graham Pettifer from the scene crew? From Susie Bankers’

Brian Johnson: ‘In one of the group photos , first from left, Alex who I think was Bar Manager for a time before leaving with Sarah (standing next to him) , to run a pub somewhere in Worcs I think. In front of them (seated) Colin from security who I believe sadly took his own life in the late 70s when he was still working in P Mill Security.’

Gail Herbert: ‘The tall guy in the group picture is Jeremy Pallant, producer of Farming, etc and I think Sue Williams in in the 3rd photo.’

2nd Floor Bar – Keith Brook (Scouse)

Photo by Tim Savage. Included l to r: Ivor Williams, Nigel Evans, Mike Bloore, John Burkill











2nd Floor Bar

The second floor bar, or VT-C to some, was instrumental in the early success of Pebble Mill.

It was a place were everyone involved in a production could meet before, during or after a programme and chew the cud over what went horribly wrong or what went wonderfully right about a show.

This freedom of opinion was crucially important in making producers choose to bring their babies to PM. They loved it and were suddenly free of the ‘unionised’ structure of Telly Centre (which was caused by dreadful bad management) and could relax, as equals, in the talented and artistic world of ‘The Mill’.

Directors were astonished to find they could have conversations over talkback with cameramen and VT instead of relying on nods and buzzers.

It was London’s jealousy, caused by producers ‘wanting’ to work at The Mill, that was its eventual downfall. That moment was continually pushed back by Phil Sidey who would regale us, often at big meetings in the boardroom, with stories of his battles with management, much to the horror of management I’m delighted to say!!

The nearest I got to the feeling of Pebble Mill’s last days was when I worked on the final edition of the ‘Big Breakfast’. So many people came out from the party and stood on the grass just looking at the house. Many in tears, many just stunned, but all in complete bewilderment as to why it should happen and how awful the replacement was.

So, the managers move BBC Birmingham to the Mailbox and contract to pay £2.4m a year for 25 years, instead of £800, just because of jealousy.

If they’d all gone to ‘The Club’ things could have been so different.

Keith Brook (aka. Scouse)

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

Cathy Houghton: ‘The bar on the 2nd floor was the best and yes the BBC lost a treasure when they made the decision to close the Mill .. ‘

Lynn Cullimore: ‘a lot of creative ideas came to pass in that bar!!!’

Pete Simpkin: ‘The original second floor bar was often thought of as an extension of the Radio Birminham newsroom on the floor below. There was great excitement when the journos heard the Newsroom was moving to that exact spot in the expansion of the Local Radio facilities but this turned to bitter disappointment when on arrival in their new newsroom the beverage dispensing facilities had been moved outside the main building to separate premises!’

Andy Marriott: ‘Are there any photos of the interior of the bar? I came along to the mill far too late to have witnessed it. I loved the fact there was such an informal place to relax in after (and in some cases, before!) work.

Working at MediaCity just doesn’t compare, having to remortgage your house for a tiny bottle of fizzy gnat’s pi** while sitting in the same uncomfortable plastic seats you eat your overpriced lunch at just isn’t the same. It seems every time the BBC moves to a new building, a little bit of its soul dies with it.’

Stuart Gandy: ‘My first memory of the old bar was actually on rum punch day. Having spent 3 months on my A course at Wood Norton in the autumn of 1979, I spent just a couple of days at pebble Mill before the Christmas break, but before I officially started there in the January. One of these was rum punch day. Of course I didn’t know what that meant when my new colleagues said it was rum punch, but none the less I went to the bar to find out, and there began my knowledge of this old Pebble Mill tradition. The bar was rammed full including the outside balcony, with the punch being served at the far end so it was quite a challenge to actually get to it. Happy memories of the old place.’

Lunchtime in the Pebble Mill Club

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

The photo shows VT Editor, Mike Bloore, PA, Jane McLean, and VT Editor, Brian Watkiss, in the Pebble Mill Club.

By how young they all look, it probably dates from the early 1980s.  Looks like a typical lunchtime!

Thanks to Jane, for making the photo available.



Opening the new Pebble Mill Club

Phil Sidey & Keith Jones New Club Opening

When Pebble Mill was first built the bar was on the second floor of the building, at the back, overlooking the back field and the courtyard.  It was a hub of activity and socialising where almost everyone would congregate at lunchtime and after work.  It was probably the only place where all levels of production and crew would get together, and therefore it became a really productive place for bouncing off ideas and solving any production issues.

As the number of staff expanded, there was more pressure for office space.  In the early 1980s the new Club was built in the Pebble Mill grounds on the far side of the brook.  It was a single storey building with a kitchen, large and small bar-rooms, and administration offices.  There was a terrace to sit out on in the summer, as well as tennis courts and football fields.

Going to the bar at lunchtime was called ‘going over the bridge’, because of the little bridge across the brook to get to the Club.

The photo shows Phil Sidey, who was Head of the Building and President of the Club, and Keith Jones, Club Chairman, ringing a bell to officially open the new Club, circa 1982.

Thanks to Gail Herbert (subsequent Chair of the Club) for making the photo available.  Copyright resides with the original photographer.