Pebble Mill Building 1980

Pebble Mill car park 1980

View of the Quadrangle 1980

Pebble Mill Garden 1980

Photo by Stuart Gandy, no reproduction without permission.

The second photo shows the view into the quadrangle. Notice that this is before the sliding roof was installed and before the space was generally used as a studio area.

In the garden picture that bit of the garden that you can see I think was known as Peter Seabrook’s Garden. It was the studio garden for ‘Pebble Mill at One’.

The following comments were added on Facebook:

Pete Simpkin: ‘The ‘garden’ picture also shows three of the Radio studios, a great loss to the Birmingham area. The sky shot of the Quad shows the first floor wall of Comms Centre and on the ground level the Reception ‘bypass’ corridor, which came into it’s own when PM@1 arrived! ‘

Lorraine Randell: ‘Can’t remember the times I searched the car park for my car, then remembered I had parked on the street. Sun bathing in the quad – and oh the controversy over the sliding roof.’

Peter Poole: ‘I remember Midlands Today being broadcast from the Quad area one summer. Diane Kemp looked great in her summer dress! ……Studio 1 had excellant acoustics but did suffer from traffic noise at rush hour. After producer choice it became too expensive for radio use. It was then used as a TV studio but it’s acoustics were not ideal for TV programmes. Studio 2 in it’s final setup was a very well equipped music studio. Audio unit had the staff to produce top quality recordings.’

John Fincham: ‘I used to love recording there’

Diane Kemp: ‘I remember dancing through the Quad with Simon Bates for the top of one of our ‘Take a Break’ programmes. Worryingly I also remember John Craven and I discussing who’d take part in the live Guillotine demonstration we had in one of the programmes. Whose idea WAS that?’

WM Frisbee – Pete Simpkin

Photo by Pete Simpkin, no reproduction without permission.

I found this frisbee in my shed recently, probably issued from Pebble Mill in the 80s, but I just can’t remember why.

Presenter Gordon Astley added the following comment on Facebook:’ stations should hang their heads in shame at the money wasted on stickers etc. never added just one listener.’

Pete replied: ‘You are right Gordon…….Stations added listeners by being out there among them, where are the great OBs that used to be mounted at Shopping Centres etc? Everything’s hidden away in bunker type studios now!’

2″ Quad Editing Block

Photos by Ian Collins, no reproduction without permission.

Video Editor, Ian, took photos of outdated kit which was being disposed of when Pebble Mill was cleared, prior to being demolished in 2005.

These photos are of a 2″ Quad tape editing block, used to make precision edits by cutting the tape with a scalpel and splicing the two ends together to make the edit. It was a complicated and expensive process.

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

Ian Collins: ‘It is indeed a 2″ Quad editing block. The magnetic recording was revealed by applying iron fillings onto the tape and then viewed through a microscope to find the correct place to cut and splice the tape to make a synchronous join.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Re the 2″ editing, my early engineering days were with an ITV company and the cost of the tape and the time to do all that iron filings sprinkling etc led to directors using a ‘rule of three’ sysytem where they would only even think of retakes or editing after three minor fluffs or production faults had passed! you can still see loads of ‘left in’ glitches in repeats fron the 60s and 70s!’

Alan Miller: ‘If I remember correctly the sound edit was at a different point from the video, making the edit not a straight cut.Also in Scotland the editors cut football matches on a single quad machine using this technique. On play out the tape ran continuously even when we cut back to the studio for links which made studio presenting a hazardous activity. The link simply had to fit the gap in the tape.’

Dave Bushell: ‘It’s thanks to the policy of avoiding editing a 2″ tape that so many early programme programmes have been lost – they were recorded over!’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Exactly! I think if they cut the tape it had to be costed in the programme budgets.’

Ian Collins: ‘It was a very crude, by today’s standards, but fast way of editing a football or cricket match down to time, which was why it was widely used by sport. The audio was indeed recorded in a different place relative to the pictures on the tape but because in sport, the audio was mainly effects, it was not too noticeable if the two cut at different times.’

Radio Birmingham Shop in New Street

Photo from Pete Simpkin, no reproduction without permission.

The photo shows the Radio Birmingham shop in New Street, Birmingham.  Producer and presenter Pete Simpkin points to the entrance!

The following information was added on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Michael Fisher: ‘Yes I remember when it opened up. Carol was the receptionist who looked after the shop. The small studio came in handy at times for news reports rather than dashing back to Pebble Mill. It also provided a city centre profile for the radio station and was very close to the City Hall but was on the edge of the New St shopping area. However it was probably an idea before its time as local radio later branched out. Pete Simpkin will recall that at the time we had “Sinky” in Coventry & covered Wolverhampton & Black Country (Chris Phipps programme) as well as parts of rural Worcs. Warks. & Staffs. almost extending as far as Cannock. I managed to get Nuneaton covered in the non-league soccer that I started for Jim Rosental to go with our six league clubs Blues, Villa, Sky Blues, Wolves, Albion & Walsall who I enjoyed reporting on.

Pete Simpkin: ‘Well remembered Michael, in fact I went on to replace Barry Lankester who had followed Chris Phipps to Wolverhampton and spent an enjoyable year ar the Queen sreet studio. Representing the BBC I was included as one of Wolverhamptons 1000 people in their millenium year!’

Andy Walters: ‘We moved out of the Queen Street studio in 2002. There’s now a radio & TV facility in Wolverhampton by the Wolves ground.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Thanks Andy,I wonder if all the old files and tapes moved with you? I well remember having to do a live lunchtime discussion programme from the little studio at Queen St, we only had two microphones and I really needed four so I went round to Tandy’s and bought two table mics, plugged them into the mixer and it all worked perfectly.There was no way these unofficial items would ever be claimable on exes so as they were mine I took them home and used them in retirement jobs for many years!’

Radio WM diaries – Pete Simpkin

Another of those unusual artefacts from days at the Mill. These diaries were sold to the public and used as gifts over several years.  We actually had a studio/shop at 80 New Street for a while where people could ‘walk in and talk ‘ on air, and buy goodies as well!

Pete Simpkin