Pebble Mill Cleaning Ladies

Pebble Mill cleaning ladies Judith Markall















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

This photo is of the Pebble Mill cleaning ladies in the early 1970s.

Elsie Brown was the only full time ladies cloakroom attendant and did so for about 20 years.

Please add a comment if you can name others in the photo.

(Thanks to Judith Markall for sharing the photo).

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

Keith Brook: ‘This may have been the moment when Sidey did his famous quote ‘From the cleaners downwards ……’

That lovely play on words earned him an annual invite to the girl’s Christmas canal barge party!!

They were a great crowd.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘They were fantastic and so dedicated. Who remembers murial with the beehive hairdo? She took part in the barmaids arms series.’

Dharmesh Rajput: ‘Memories of cleaners – so in the final years of Pebble Mill – who remembers Sharon? She was lovely, but god help you if you were still working late when she needed to clean!’

Judith Markall: Elsie Brown was my mom and she loved working there. We were able to catch up during the day when I worked in Planning Office. She was the only lady that was there all day as the others only worked early mornings. Yes Keith they were a great bunch !

[Included are] Elsie Brown, Elsie Lloyd, Edie Harrison, Olive Taylor, Edna Cuneen, Also ladies I have no surnames for – Betty, Anne, Pat, Doreen. I see Phil Sidey is there and I can’t remember the name of the other Manager.

John Wood dies aged 83

(The following article is taken from the Birmingham Post, 4th March 2014)

Tributes paid after former BBC journalist dies
4 Mar 2014 07:00

John Wood

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












John Wood, who had been suffering with diabetes-related problems for several years, rose to Chief Press and Public Relations Officer at Pebble Mill after starting his career with the corporation in London in the 1950s.

Former Birmingham journalist John Wood, who worked for the BBC for 25 years, has died, aged 83.

Mr Wood, who had been suffering with diabetes-related problems for several years, rose to Chief Press and Public Relations Officer at Pebble Mill after starting his career with the corporation in London in the 1950s.

He eventually retired from the corporation in 1983.

Educated at Aston Commercial School, Birmingham, he began his career as a trainee reporter with the Birmingham Post and Mail in January 1947 and later worked at the Cannock Advertiser and Wolverhampton Chronicle.

His daughter Kerrie Tillott said: “His spirit of adventure and passion for writing took him further afield and, at the very young age of 22, he left England for a job as a reporter on the East African Standard newspaper in Nairobi, Kenya.

“His service with the East African Standard included the whole period of the Mau Mau rebellion.

“He was able to carry out his National Service in the Kenya Police Reserve and later on in the Kenya Regiment, the King’s African Rifles.

“He joined one of the two reserve regiments of the Special air Service, the 23rd Regiment, in 1957 as a trooper, and rose to captain before retiring in 1972.

“He also served as a member of the Parachute Regiment.

“In 1970, he returned to Kenya, this time with his wife and family on secondment from the BBC, to take up a position with the Kenyan Radio and Television counterpart to the BBC, Voice of Kenya, in Nairobi.

“Upon his return to England in 1973 he went to Pebble Mill.”

After leaving the BBC, he worked as a freelance journalist, including spells with the Post and Mail and Walsall Chamber of Commerce.

John, who lived in Walsall, leaves a wife Elaine, two daughters and four grandchildren.

His funeral has been arranged for March 18 at Streetly Crematorium at 1.30pm.

(Thanks to Andy Marriott for sharing this article)

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Page:

Lynn Cullimore: ‘I worked with John in the Press Office – one of my early jobs in the BBC. John was a loveable rogue. He was kind and us girls whom he called “Woodie’s Angels” adored him. Always had his sleeves rolled up and a great friend of Phil Sideys who did same. Both journalists together. I send my condolences to his family and think of him fondly – so sad he is no longer with us.’


An amazing place to work – Andy Tylee

Original foyer At Pebble Mill

Original foyer At Pebble Mill

The Queen visiting the Pebble Mill at One foyer studio in 1981. Photo from Keith Brook.

The Queen visiting Pebble Mill at One foyer studio in 1981. Phil Sidey in front of the stepladder. Photo from Keith Brook.


I worked at Pebble Mill between 1979 and 1987. It didn’t actually feel like going to work – more like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It was supposed to have been the Midlands’ white elephant, but Phil Sidey in particular and the staff in general ensured that the place soared above that position. Phil was an unpredictable, iconoclastic genius and polymath who for me personified the very best of the BBC’s creative, risk taking spirit. His invention of daily live TV from the foyer, rather than a studio made the atmosphere in the building crackle with excitement and tension. It was a genuinely amazing place to work.

The BBC’s decision to shut and demolish was an act of insane vandalism. The Mailbox is risible by comparison.

John Jeavons lighting the Foyer or Studio B

John Jeavons photo from KB

Photo from Keith Brook, no reproduction without permission

Photo from Peter Poole, no reproduction without permission

Photo from Peter Poole, no reproduction without permission













The photo is of John Jeavons lighting either Studio B or the foyer.

Jeavons was relegated to working those two places because of an incident at a meeting Sidey had called.

Every department was there to discuss the viability of a simple little TV programme to be made in the foyer. As Sidey went through each section he was greeted with ‘Crazy, but we’ll give it a go’. Finally it got to Tech Ops, who said it was impossible to light, ceiling too low, not enough manpower, far too difficult, yada, yada, yada.

Good old Jeavons stood up and said if we remove the ceiling tiles we’ll have enough room and he’ll only need two sparks who can also do Midlands Today and stay within hours.

That slightly upset Head of Tech Ops, and not being the vindictive type at all, made sure that Jeavons only did those two shows.

Incidentally, he’s using a Weston Master V, the best exposure meter ever made. Which makes him a great lighter!! There’s a load of complicated stuff for still photography but in the TV world, these meters were used to maintain a consistency of light level. To that end, we only used the top window with the needle and tried to keep everything the same.

Keith Brook (Aka Scouse)

The Queen visits Pebble Mill

Queen KB













Photo by Keith Brook, no reproduction without permission.

The Queen visited Pebble Mill to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the building’s opening, in 1981.

Her majesty is accompanied by Jim Dumighan, immediately on her right, with Head of Network Production, Phil Sidey, further to the right. Ian Trethowan, the Director General, is 2nd on the right, next to the military man. The Queen is talking to cameraman Phil Wilson. Keith Bullock is by the window talking to Steve Pierson, with Sam from Make-up in the green smock, next to Guy from Design, with the red tie. Chris Harris is between Phil Sidey and Ian Trethowan, with the beard; possibly Ken Hodges next to Chris.

Please add a comment if you recognise the crew and others in the photo.

It was taken in the Foyer Studio, where Pebble Mill at One was transmitted from.

I have found this link on YouTube of some clips put together for the Queen’s visit: 

Thanks to everyone for helping identifying people in the photo.