photo by Ben Peissel
I remember going to Pebble Mill as a Scout, for some anniversary or other, being told wonderful rubbish about how the programme wanted to show the ‘modern’ scouts and then almost all the programme focused on the old “dib dib dib” (a phrase that went out in the 50s as far as I can tell) uniforms. It was one of those moments that etched on to my young mind never to trust a journalist…
Later on I met and befriended a young technician who had moved up to Birmingham from London to work at Pebble Mill, he and his (then) wife bought a house not far from where my (now ex) wife and I bought ours. He even bought that off us when we moved further north.
He worked in the control room and did some OBs and had to set up and man some mid point links as well. We were both Radio Amateurs and I think I still have a QSL card from G6BBC and the special event station run from Pebble Mill for ‘Children In Need’. The antennas for the Amateur Radio station were on the roof with long cables down to the ‘shack’ so they put the amplifiers on the roof, near the antennas, to overcome the losses.
The name of my friend was (still is..) Giles Herburt and I still keep in contact with him at times, but he lives near Gloucester now I think.
He did organize a visit to Pebble Mill for a group of radio amateurs and, on odd occasions, I managed to get in to see him when I was an MEB engineer and had to go into the substation that fed Pebble Mill.
On another occasion I was the MEB standby engineer on permanent loan for a day to cover the Test Match at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground. We used to draw lots for that job! I found that the radio technicians were more friendly to a fellow engineer interested in the technology (I was already a Radio Amateur by then) than the TV ones. Maybe the TV lot had more to do, I don’t know, but the radio OB people would allow me to sit and watch them at work and would often brew a cup of tea and have a chat when the cricketers were having lunch or tea. The TV people hardly even acknowledged that I existed…
The following comment was left by Pete Simpkin on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group: ‘Very interesting. Just refering to the point at the end, when I was an OB engineer the commentator, scorer, the PO engineer and I would often be at the other end of say a cricket ground and felt more of a close knit family than the dozens of people at the other end with their catering vans and all day transmissions..much more civilised!’