Broad Street News Studio Gallery

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission























These photographs show the news studio gallery at Broad Street in the 1960s. In the second photograph you can see into the studio, through the window. The man in the white shirt is a young Jim Dumighan.

These photographs were originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers Facebook group. Thanks to Stuart Gandy for allowing them to be shared.

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

Colin Pierpoint: ‘I did a short time in there. I didn’t do much except change a few caption cards in the studio, and I was on tape and grams at least once. The Director asked me for a particular sound effect, so I went to the F/X disc library to get one. When I returned I incurred the Director’s wrath for not being at my post when they had done a rehearsal! (In fact, I had left the tape machine on remote so the sound supervisor could start it). Photo 1: Sam Shaw standing at the back. I think the tape and grams operator may be Ant (Anthony) Astley.

Gordon Astley: ‘I used to work where the guy, back left in the first pic is, playing in sound fx on disc.’






Alan Towers resigns from Midlands Today 1997

Alan Towers BBC Midlands Today resignation broadcast 1997 from Mark Davies on Vimeo.

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

Alan Towers presenting Midlands Today in 1997, and resigning live at the end of the show. Apparently he asked to say something at the end of his final show, but no one realised that he was going to explain why he was leaving. His timing was impeccable, as usual.











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

Becky Towers: ‘My LEGEND of a father! He’s been gone 9 years this month. Funny that you posted this. He always finds a way to let us know he’s still around!’

Robin Latchem: ‘I wish someone had the recording of when the VT went down on a Saturday sports show I was producing and Alan had to busk several minutes with no spare copy. He breezed through the empty time while I in the gallery could only thank someone’s God that he was presenting.’

Gordon Astley: ‘I remember watching this one Saturday afternoon. We all thought,”Hero”. The suits thought “Unprofessional “. Later on I interviewed Alan on my show after his return from from a motorbike trip abroad. After the show you couldn’t move for ‘suits’ welcoming him back into the building.’

Martin Fisher: ‘He was helpful to us in local radio for both news and sport and I am personally grateful for the assistance in my early years in broadcasting from Pebble Mill.’



Who should open Pebble Mill?

Pebble Mill building circa 1970, copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Pebble Mill building circa 1970, copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission













In January 1970 the Controller of English Regions, Patrick Beech wrote a memo to the Director General of the BBC, to discuss who should open the new Pebble Mill building.

Although Patrick says that he has, ‘no great enthusiasm for such functions,’ he feels that it would be fitting to make an ‘occasion’ of the opening, particularly to show that the ‘BBC is honouring its non-metropolitan pledges and of emphasising the importance of these production centres.’ He also felt that the staff would feel let down if nothing was done officially to mark the opening of the new broadcast centre.

In terms of who to choose to open the building, there was definitely a case of not wanting to be upstaged by other local organisations recently opened by members of the Royal Family. For instance, ATV had arranged for Princess Alexandra to open their new television centre in Birmingham in March 1970, and the Snowdons had opened the Cannon Hill complex a couple of years earlier.

The memo asks for the D.G.’s opinion on the matter, and suggests that feelers should be put out to see what availability of members of the Royal Family might have.

(Patrick Beech’s memo of 15th January 1970 is held at the BBC Written Archives)

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

Gordon Astley: ‘………so who did the opening ?’

David Shute: ‘Princess Anne ! Princess Royal.’

Katheryn Shuttleworth: ‘She did the the official opening at Mailbox too. I guess wherever we end up next she’ll be invited to do the honours!’

Lynne Cullimore: ‘Pebble mill was great and I loved working there’

Cathy Houghton: ‘Not as soulless as the Mailbox.’

Graham Bentley: ‘I loved this place. Had the best atmosphere of any of the BBC buildings I ever visited.’

John Sayle: ‘I remember Pebble Mill. Always felt a bit soulless. A tad temporary. Just saying’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Might have felt that way as an outsider, but they made more programmes there in one month that they now make in Birmingham in one year.’

John Sayle: ‘Appreciate that. Worked on some kids shows from there. Admittedly not long before they shu it down. Sad it’s gone. Like BBC Manchester, Oxford Rd. TVC Wood Lane too.’

Richard Taylor: ‘As an ‘outsider’ from Wales (and before that BH) I enjoyed working at Pebble Mill. It was so friendly, a lovely place to work. And I was quickly accepted. When the lease was secretly sold from under us I couldn’t work at the soulless mailbox so retired early.’

Fred Hammond – Gosta Green Commissioner

Fred Hammond BBC Comissionair at Gosta Green












Photo by Jim Gregory, no reproduction without permission.

The photo is of Fred Hammond, the Commissioner at the BBC Birmingham studios in Gosta Green, which pre-dated the Pebble Mill building. It was taken at the front of Gosta Green looking across to what was then Gosta Tech Students Union (now part of Aston University), circa mid 1960s.

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

Paul Hunt: ‘He so reminds me of the commissioners that used to man the doors of BH in London when I joined in 1985. They all knew you on first name terms and on special days they would proudly wear their white gloves under their epaulettes.’

Gordon Astley: ‘I remember him. I was there in 1969.’

Gail Everett: ‘I remember Fred very well, first person I met at BBC. He had a daughter who also worked at Pebble Mill but can’t remember her name.’

Janet Collins: ‘His daughter Olivia also worked at Pebble Mill.’


Gordon Astley mug

Gordon Astley cartoon AW Gordon Astley mug AW


















Here, thanks to Andy Walters is a Radio WM mug featuring presenter Gordon Astley. It is still in daily use at the Mailbox, and is somewhat strangely sponsored by MEB (Midlands Electricity Board). Apparently Radio WM had a whole load of different branded merchandise, which was given away in competitions.