Dave Pick wins Radio Club prize

Pebble Mill News 1984

Pebble Mill News 1984


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

This cutting is from the Pebble Mill News, March 1984. This was the internal staff newspaper.

The article tells how Dave Pick, an OB Maintenance Engineer at Pebble Mill, won a short-wave radio competition, by contacting more short-wave radio stations than any other competitor. He did all this from the 2nd floor of Pebble Mill.

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

Roy Thompson: ‘I think it was a popular past time for many engineers, John Endall I think was one. At Wood Norton there was a radio shack which was popular with trainee engineers and operators.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘There were quite a few Radio Amateurs at Pebble Mill. Dave is still about.’

Thomas Graal: ‘We shortwave fans were well served back in the day….unlike now.’

David Ackrill: ‘Many organisations had Amateur Radio groups as part of their sports and social groups. I belonged to the MEB Radio Club (G6MEB and G4MEB) on Mucklow Hill, Halesowen. I became friends with Giles Herbert when he moved to Birmingham and lived just down the road from each other for a while. I worked the Children In Need special event station and still have a QSL card for the contact somewhere.’

Dave Pick: ‘Yes we had a radio room in what used to be the 2nd floor club’s bottle store. We had access to the roof for aerials (not so much health and safety then!). Who remembers that geodesic dome they tried to use for programmes up there? I still hold the G2BBC call sign. Radio club had quite a few members including Maurice Darkin, John Endall, Simon Evans, Frank Stevens, Malcolm Hickman and loads more.’

Jim Lee: ‘I remember having a few plays on G2BBC in the 90s with Dave and Giles in that store. I remember going up on to the roof as well – probably with Dave – where there was a Cobwebb and the top of a sloping 160m dipole.’

Brian Empringham: ‘Hi Jim, don’t know about Pebble Mill, but there were some hams at Bush – including the late George Eason – who worked out of some sort of shack on the roof.’


Studio Operations (Part 1) – Ray Lee


Studio A lighting gantry 1975, by Jim Gregory

Studio A lighting gantry 1975, by Jim Gregory


Studio A production gallery 1971, by Ivor Williams

Studio A production gallery 1971, by Ivor Williams

























I joined studio operations (as part of the operations engineers “merry go round”) around July 1974. For some historical reason by that stage Studio A was entirely staffed by operations engineers 3 in the gallery and 3 in TAR, whereas Studio B only the gallery was (1 or 2 engineers), the TAR staffing being done by Comms & Engineering services staff. I suspect it was largely due to power struggles / empire building by managers on the 3rd floor trying to justify their existence. At that time Bill Berry was in charge of operations engineers as Ops Organiser, a position which a little later (1976?) John Lannin took on. The Manager Comms. & engineering services at that time was Tony Pilgrim, who in later years was replaced by Doug Taylor, and later still Frank Stevens in the early 1980’s.

Studio operations staff also rotated onto CMCR9 to staff the O.B.s although it was only a sub group who for reasons explained later were often referred to as the Mafia. The staff who at that time crewed both studio’s an O.B.’s were John Bradley, John Moore, Ron Pickering, Steve Searley, Ray Sperry, Jim Cleland, John Abbot, Elson Godbolt. John Allison was the VCMS for the scanner, and Peter Hodges and Mike Lee the VCMS (Vision Control  and Maintenance Supervisor) for Studio A. In theory all 3 VCMS’s could work on the scanner, or in the studio, but in practice Peter and Mike, apart from a brief stint, stayed largely in the studio. Peter had only been appointed VCMS in early 1974, so was quite new in the job when I started working with the Studio A crew.  The other  Studio A engineers included myself, Dave White (who later moved to Norwich), Dennis Kiddy, John Kimberly, Peter Wood-Fisher, Ian Dewar,  and Brian Jones (who did go out on O.B.s’ later- I think he was the first to break in to the select group). There may have been others, and the staff movements were fairly fluid at that time around the studios, VT and TK, although there was no real movement with regard to scanner crewing until around 1977. Jim Howarth was basically the engineer for Studio B gallery, (I don’t recall Jim ever working anywhere other than Studio B) aided by one of the other ops engineers on his days off, and Pebble Mill at One Days. Jim Howarth could very often be found in the club bar, sometimes with only minutes to go to transmission, but always seemed to manage to turn up just in time!

Ray Lee

Pebble Mill Club – final days

Photos by Tim Savage, no reproduction without permission.

Tim took these photos on 23 Nov, 2004, one of the final days at Pebble Mill.

The photos include post production staff including: John Burkill, Jim Gregory, Amrik Manku, Brian Watkiss, Ivor Williams, John Duckmanton, Tony Rayner, Martin Dowell, Mike Bloore, Pete Shannon, John Macavoy, Dave Pick, Frank Stevens.

Please add a comment if you can identify others.

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

Stuart Gandy: ‘In image 1016 the guy in the blue shirt holding a pint is John Macavoy, Engineer, and in image 1017 I see Dave Pick in the check shirt and next to him is Frank Stevens, former engineering services manager.’

Keith Brook: ‘If I may take friendly issue with Stuart Gandy about John Macavoy. He wasn’t just an engineer, he was a god. He was able to invent magical cures for any crazy idea that production could conjure up. Even worse, he would undertand their mumblings and give them more than they ever dreamed of. I hate him. The best days were, of course, when the bar was on the second floor. Very few managers realised all the post recording toxic, adrenaline, hyper-excitement that could corrode a great day’s work was diffused with a few beers upstairs. Incidentally, a truly ‘involving’, ‘participating’ and ‘egalitarian’ system, as we had at The Mill, works in any organisation. British industry, banking and the NHS would be major successes if they applied the same rules.’