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.’

Radio Studio 2

Photos by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photos by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Studio 2 control room MF

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is the console in studio 2.  Studio 2 did more Big Band / studio music sessions and was multitrack. Studio 1 was more of an orchestral concert studio and had GP cababilities.”

Kath Shuttleworth

“It’s SSL 4000E, as Kath says in studio 2. I worked on them at Maida Vale, as a trainee we were told that it cost £2000 a channel! There was a similar desk in SCV6.”

Paul Hunt

“Ah… Studio 2 was my home from home…. So many memories…..”

Jane Ward

 

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.’

 

Telly Addicts titles grab

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

Thanks to Ian Collins for making this titles grab available.

Telly Addicts was a BBC1 early evening, game show about television presented by Noel Edmonds. It was first transmitted in 1985, and ended in 1998. John King was the Executive Producer, with producers including Tim Manning and Richard Lewis. It was recorded in Studio A.

The questions were about television programmes past and present, with the usual format being a clip followed by questions. There were usually two teams of four people each, with a tournament style of 16 teams, in 8 qualifying heats, being adopted from 1987-1996.

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

Denny Hodge: ‘Yes fond memories doing the warm up on the show.’

Jane Green: ‘Your warm ups were a treat to see Denny. Remember them well. I worked on this. Noel was a dream to look after. Helicopter arrived literally 5 minutes before rehearsals began and he had his clothes all ready and pressed and he’d be in studio on time. No fuss, no silly demands. Went to collect him from his dressing room once and found him standing on a chair waving a ‘brick’ around. It was a new thing called a mobile phone and he was trying to get a signal. His very beautiful new wife Helen turned up to rehearsals one evening to support him as his much loved dog had just died and he was so upset. She just walked in – I didn’t know who she was and was about to ask her to leave when someone explained…’

Andrew Langstone: ‘My friend Jennifer Kings (was Hassall) was a production secretary on Telly Addicts. Managed to get us some tickets for a few recordings.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Didn’t John King flog the rights to Noel Edmonds?’

Richard Stevenson: ‘The first show I worked on in 1997. Ironically I then went on to work with Noel on numerous Gotchas (65 I think), Noel’s House Party and some great worldwide trips for Noel’s Christmas Presents.’

Belinda Essex: ‘I used to do auto cue sometimes’

Gill Thompson: ‘I used to organise the audiences for this show, never had a problem filling seats was always a popular one!’

Sarah Dunning: ‘And the graphic designer was the brilliant Annie Jenkins!’

Jane Upston: ‘I remember recruiting for this programme (I was Jane Morgan then and worked in HR). I remember Nick Hurran too, the Director and Jennifer Hassell. Who was the PA?’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Trudi Stanton and Roger Sutton vision mixed I think. Can’t remember the PA but it will come to me!….Thea Harvey?’

Sheila Brown RIP

Sheila Brown sadly died on 14th April 2015, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. Sheila started work as a secretary in Personnel, and then later in the Press Office and PR department, organising visitor tours of Pebble Mill.

Sheila is shown in the right of this photograph, which was taken at the Friday Night at the Mill party in 2004. The party which marked the closing of the Pebble Mill building, prior to its demolition in 2005.

Clara Hewitt, Janet Collins, Margaret Barton, Sheila Brown

Clara Hewitt, Janet Collins, Margaret Barton, Sheila Brown. Photo by Ruth Barretto, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Andy Bentley: ‘Remember Shiela well, she received an MBE if I remember right. Lovely Lady.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘We used to take parties around the Mill, including parties of staff newly arrived at Bush House. Sheila used to organise the catering and for some inexplicable reason, there was always one or two bottles of red wine left over. A very sweet lady and an accomplished ballroom dancer in her younger days.’

Jane Ward: ‘Wasn’t she a keen ballroom dancer?’

Conal O’Donnell: ‘I remember Sheila very well- quite mischievous on her way & always good fun .I am sorry to learn of her passing.’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘What a lovely, funny soul she was: her very memory brings a warm smile to all who knew her. I do hope she enjoyed her later years.’

Tim Manning: ‘I’m so sorry to hear the news about Sheila; she was – as others have said – a lovely lady, and someone who cared deeply about Pebble Mill. And yes, Jane Ward, she was a very keen and skilled ballroom dancer; when I was directing a film for The Golden Oldie Picture Show, she loaned me all her trophies and lots of memorabilia.’

Marie Phillips: ‘Sheila was very kind to me when CIN was regarded as something of a misfit in the Press Office. Very very efficient. A well deserved MBE.’

Andy Caddick: ‘We used to have long chats on the No1 bus on the way to Pebble Mill. So sad, lovely lady.’