Tony Newbury, Mike Day, Gail Herbert, Peter Skinner

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The photo includes Tony Newbury, Mike Day, Gail Herbert (now Everett), and Peter Skinner. It was taken in the BBC Club at Pebble Mill one Christmas.

Thanks to Gail for sharing the photo.

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

Paul Hunt: Mike was the Broadcast Systems Engineer. In a nutshell he knew everything about all the wiring of Pebble Mill and kept all the records up to date. Additionally he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the Post Office landlines across the midlands region!

Steve Dellow: ‘He was also given an ‘Unsung Hero’ award recently’

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/get-inspired/46454426?fbclid=IwAR3lHi6eZp0AjzpVqpft-C89ZwTjK3Z2fksytN5JYu4QsvKFDxnhtu5li3U

Paul Wheeldon

Photos from Steve Dellow, no reproduction without permission

Paul Wheeldon, and Bob Allison, posing in the OB line up area, 1983

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These photos show Comms engineer, Paul Wheeldon, who worked at Pebble Mill during the 1970s and 80s, before moving to BBC Manchester. The first photo shows Paul with Nigel Harris at Meir Heath water tower for the darts OB at Jollies nightclub. Access to the top involved climbing through the tank in a concrete ‘tube’! The second photo was taken in Nov 1983 in the OB line up area, at Steve Dellow’s leaving do. The deal was that if anyone wanted a drink off Steve, they had to wear a silly hat!

Paul sadly died a number of years ago.

Thanks to Steve Dellow for sharing these photos.

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Brian Johnson in the Comms Centre

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Johnson in the Comms Centre at Pebble Mill, on an evening shift – not comedian Dave Allen on the television.

This photo was originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers’ Facebook page.

The following comments were posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook page, where I had asked what duties there would be in Comms Centre in the evening:

Malcolm Hickman: ‘At one time we knew what every button and switch did.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘We did a number of duties on evening shift. for each Midland opt out of BBC1 we extended opt out control to the Pres Desk. There was usually one at every programme junction. Contribution circuits for television were routed through BM Comms Centre from Manchester, carrying Scotland and Northern Ireland contributions, and from Norwich. There were two vision contribution channels from Manchester and two to London Switching Centre, although we could hire extra circuits from BT if necessary. Each of these extra circuits had to be tested. Sound circuits were 669, 297 and 148 from Manchester, and 136 or 276 going north. 289 from Norwich. Sound circuits to London were 549, 296, 271, 698 and 339+689 via Daventry. From London 114 and 270. All these are music circuits, which mean broadcast quality for either speech or music. All were regularily tested. Routing tests tended to be in the evening when they were less used. They were switched according to the SB chart which was issued daily by Circuit Allocation Unit in BH London. Later changes and additions came on a teleprinter in Comms Centre. Control lines associated with these bookings could carry talkback and cue programme. Control Lines into BM from London were 007 and LO-BM 30 and 31, similar to Manchester. So if there was any contribution from the regions in the evening going to London it would be routed through BM Comms. There were sometimes region to region contributions, not ending in London, and contributions from London to the regions, particularily for Scotland and Wales. At the time I worked there distribution passed through here and we were responsible for testing and maintaining circuit quality and rectifying faults. Birmingham fed Towyn transmittion station with Radio networks (R1 and R2 I think), as well as all the Midland transmitters and feeds north. We also routed circuits within the building from Studios A and B to VTR. Outside Broadcasts coming into Birmingham on radiolinks had to be tested and routed. These could be in the evening. Radio News contributions looked after themselves most of the time on the NCA network, but we dealt with any faults. However, other sound circuits could be booked for Radio, for example if there was a stereo OB from the Town Hall (later Symphony Hall) of an orchestral concert on radio 3, the lines would be tested to BM comms and then routed to London. We also took calls from listeners and viewers on technical and programme queries.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘As he is wearing a tie, I suspect he was the shift supervisor. The shift was the B shift – 15:30 until BBC 1 closedown. He would have an engineer on the same shift with him and a second engineer doing the D shift that finished at 22:00 hours. When David Stevens was on form, the Presentation show could extend the closedown by 30 mins.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘..and once went out in Northern Ireland because their opt out had already closed down and the transmitter automatic switch (TLS failure) switched over to the Midlands RBS (Rebroadcast standby)’

Steve Dellow: ‘When I was on B shift (particularly on a Sunday) I’d be ringing the Club to see whether a certain supervisor was in a state to get back to the Comms Centre so I could go home! Other times on a quiet evening I’d practice coding something with SIS (?) on the bays as if it needed feeding to LO (say). Or practice commoning up some audio circuits to the single speaker in the desk, which was useful to hear all the footy commentators starting to plug up their COOBE’s on a Saturday.’

Jane Partridge: ‘The breakfast shift was more fun… I was working in Contracts & Finance at the time, so Phil and I travelled in together and the aim was to have just had a full cooked breakfast (so there was the lingering smell of bacon) just before the A shift got in. The Comms Centre had its own kitchen, so that early and late shifts could have a hot meal.’

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Eagle Tower at Silverstone

Photo by Steve Dellow, no reproduction without permission

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This photo shows a couple of heavily rigged Eagle Towers at the Silverstone Grand Prix. The towers were self-erecting and had to carry the transmitter so that the signal from the outside broadcast truck could be relayed to a radio links vehicle at a mid-point, which had to be in line of sight with the tower.

I understand that the Eagle Towers were manufactured in Warwick, at Eagle Engineering.

Thanks to Steve Dellow for sharing the photograph.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘I believe you are correct, Eagle was at Warwick. They were fitted on Bedford chassis. They were transported laying down onto the top of the cab and pumped upright by using levers at the back to control the hydraulics. After rigging at 30′ the centre could be extended to 60′.’

Kate White: ‘We only had one Eagle Tower in Birmingham, the other would have come from London. The 4ft dish was probably pointing at a midpoint at Dunstable Downs and on to Crystal Palace. The 2ft dishes pointing at a midpoint at Charwelton near Daventry, that would then have gone into the receivers at Sutton Coalfield. This is based on my memories from the 90s.’

Chris Harris: ‘Wouldn’t the 2ft dishes be pointing to Stowe Corner and CM1?’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Quite right Chris. We used to have vans at Stowe, occasionally Maggots and Becketts. I was with Rod Batch at Maggots when a car spun off. The cameraman on his scaffolding was tracking the car and saw the line up card go through the shot. The car just bumped the scaffold and all we saw was a bit of camera shake.’

Mike Jordan: ‘In later years, we rigged all the links on a platform above the grandstand.’

 

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Radio Links Vehicle at Burghley Horse Trials

Copyright Steve Dellow, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photo shows a radio links van at a mid-point on an outside broadcast at the Burghley Horse Trials, in September 1985. The radio links van would receive the OB signal from the truck at the event, and then send it on to the transmitter, or to another links van.

 

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

Bryan Comley: ‘Burghley is a huge job with 20 plus cameras covering the cross country course, today the cameras all come back to one truck via fibre optics. In the 80’s there were two trucks one at the start/finish and one at Lion bridge, the cameras at the extremes of the course were radio linked to the trucks , Formula one at Silverstone use cross course microwave too.

Too get the pictures on air, links had to be set up to the nearest inject point, either a BBC centre or a transmitter site, the max distances for one link was around 40 miles sure to the curvatures of the earth and signal strength, so mid points on high ground would be set for some OBs. This could fail due to fog if the midpoint was high above the fog and the OB was in fog as the beam would get bent leaving the fog.’

Steve Dellow: ‘Indeed – a big job – and I’ve still got the Comms planning sheets! In 1985, at Burghley Park there were two Comms vans (758 and 602) – ‘Dairy Park’ and Main. The van in the photo (356) was at Tinwell Lodge (with Generator PG50), then 587 at Cold Overton, then onwards to Sutton (and underground circuit to Pebble Mill). Receiver 102R and Transmitter 124T on the top of 356, with Pete Myslowski asleep in the cab! I was supposed to give £25 cash to the site owner (Mr Flint), plus £20 as they hadn’t been paid the year before! The ‘hops’ were 5km, 18.5km, and 69km.’

Comms planning sheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malcolm Hickman: ‘On other occasions, we used a different mid point, where the vehicle would pick up the signals (7ghz microwave) and relay them to a receiver located at the Morborne transmitter. We used a passive reflector up the mast to bounce the signals down to a receiver on the ground. They were then injected by BT into a protection circuit to Pebble Mill.’

Roy Thompson: ‘As explained radio links had to be line of sight. This could be a problem for some starter links (the first one from the ob site) especially in town centres. Eagle towers were used, which had a self erecting, two stage tower which would carry the transmitter. It was rigged at 30 foot and then sent up to its maximum height of 60 foot. Have no actual photos but came across this model Dinky toy at my local dentist. Unfortunately the second part of the tower is missing.’

 Andy Marriott: ‘I love seeing stuff like this. I joined the comms dept at Pebble Mill in 2000. But by then it was a shadow of its former self. Still got to work on a few OB’s before the plug finally got pulled a year or so later. OB’s aren’t nearly as cool when they’re over satellite or fibre!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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