Radio WM studio

Photo from Rod Fawcett, no reproduction without permission












Chris Nelson in Radio WM, with the desk partially dismantled, on the first floor of Pebble Mill.

The following comments were added to the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Andy Walters: ‘That’s gotta be Area 1. The only Studio that was orientated that way. The removed unit will contain the Peak Programme Meters, Red DTX buttons and Talkback as well as master level controls.’

Paul Hunt: ‘I think it’s a very young Chris Nelson and he’s sitting in Area 1. (In Area 2 and 4 the operator had their back to the window) The central module has been removed. It wasn’t uncommon for folk to hit the tannoy or DTX (Direct to transmitter) buttons so hard that they would stick in. These BBC Mark 3 desks were hand built by the equipment department at Avenue House in Chiswick. The last one in service is at Radio Lancashire, not bad considering they were designed in the 1970’s!!’

Andy Marriott: ‘Wow, is Lancashire really the last Mk3 site? Does that mean everyone else is ViLoR’ed now? Or are the post 2000 refurbed ER template sites still in service?
I’ve got one of those centre modules in my garage, ex-Humberside, I think. What I’d like to know is what are those 7 segment LED displays are? Next to the LS3/5. Didn’t WM have some kind of computer controlled CD jukebox system for their music?’

Andy Walters: ‘There was a CD jukebox controlled by Acorn RISC computers with NSM mechanisms. It was originally bought for CWR in Coventry. I remember chucking it in the skip. The hard disk system was called Numisys but I do think it was there for very long. World Service used Numisys a lot. The display by the speaker, I think were timers for the two Gram channels.’

Paul Hunt: ‘We did the trial with Studer Numisys in 1994. As Andy points out the CD jukebox system was moved over in 1996 after the merger with CWR.’

Philip Morgan: ‘Am I correct in thinking that this area was originally the Station Manager’s office (i.e. Jack Johnston’s) in the 1970’s? I believe these areas were originally designated something like studio’s 8, 9, and 10 when Pebble Mill was under construction and the area was reserved for the Midland Region of Radio 4.’

Rod Fawcett: ‘The cart machine on the right is a BE (Broadcast Electronics) triple deck – replaced eventually by the Sonifex Micro HS series… The photo is from the 80s and after Radio WM became stereo (as of course its a Mk III stereo console). I can’t remember when WM converted to stereo exactly, was it 1985??’

Simon Walsh: ‘This is the Late Nights with Adil Ray desk, and was a pleasure to drive.’

Thomas Graal: ‘It looks like Chris Nelson with hair to me. The LP on the desk is 20 Fabulous Hits by Jake Thackray originally released in 1975.’

Paul Hunt: ‘So who do I bump into in the basement of BH today but Chris Nelson. He loved the photo and said it was working with people like Ed Doolan that helped him get on. He now travels the globe directing multi camera programmes for BBC World.’

Andy Walters: ‘Here’s how the same studio looked on WMs last day in 2004. It was the last studio on air as it was used by the Asian Network for six weeks after WM left.’








Reflections of Pebble Mill – Thomas Graal

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

This video was recorded by Thomas Graal, it shows the last days of BBC Pebble Mill Birmingham, including exclusive video footage of the Newsroom, all the News edit suites, the Crush Bar, the Pebble Mill garden, the main News studio, the conservatory & the car park. All this & the running commentary were recorded in October 2004.

Copyright Thomas Graal

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.’