Pebble Mill Canteen












Photo by Tim Savage, no reproduction without permission.

This photograph is of the Pebble Mill Canteen on the 7th floor of the office block. Tim took the photo in autumn 2004 when Pebble Mill had been emptied, prior to the building being demolished in 2005.

The Canteen was at the heart of Pebble Mill, sadly it looks so clean and lifeless in this photo.  It had a excellent line in cheese scones, mid morning, and delicious cakes for afternoon tea.  You never knew who you’d meet in the Canteen, you’d frequently bump in to actors in full costume and make-up taking a break from recording a drama in Studio A.

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

Becky Land: ‘I remember that if you timed it right you could get a warm banana and chocolate scone for elevenses. Welcoming when on an early news reading shift. Loved sitting amongst the Archers cast and listening to the well known voices.. and the brilliant view on a clear sunny day. ‘

Gordon Astley:..’I loved the canteen/restaurants from Gosta Green/ Broad st/ Pebble Mill. Only problem I had was with the whingers who complained daily…bearing in mind it was good, honest food, served by nice people…and it was all subsidised by some old lady lady’s licence fee.’

Stuart Gandy: ‘Oh! Pebble Mill Puddings – legendary’

Brian Johnson: ‘Canteens at Broad St and Carpenter Road were great too!’

Susan Astle: ‘Cheese scones……made it easier to cope with a hangover!’

Donald Steel: ‘And Sunday roasts! I knew staff who would come in specially !’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Well said Susan, you had to be in the queue at the prompt time of 1030!’

Neil Wilson: ‘Carl’s kingdom for many years. So much missed.’

Eurwyn Jones: ‘Who can remember some of the women who worked there ?
I remember Lil, Edna, Miss Rose and a blonde Scottish girl………’

Gordon Astley: ‘Donald…..after my WM Sunday show I would often had 4 Sundays plated up..took 2 round to Mum and Dad..and 2 for us. Had to smuggle the green plates and the covers back in on Monday !!!’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Eurwyn there was an Irish lady on the canteen staff called Mary, my wife who is Irish taught me some Irish phrases to try out on her, I think I was set up by some of these! Great and friendly staff in the canteen…sorry restaurant!’

Eurwyn Jones: ‘I well remember Lil that worked there took pity on me during the bread strike and she used to smuggle various loaves to me….. Bless her.’

Gordon Astley:. ‘talking of strikes (BTW I was the first person in the BBC in Birmingham to go on strike !) There was a strike on behalf of the canteen staff who were then berated by the pickets because they went into work. They told me “It’s ok for those journos etc…they earn a lot…we can’t afford to strike !”‘

Lynn Cullimore: ‘I remember Edna’s singing in the canteen. The cheese scones were to die for…nowhere else can you get a cheese scone the same! Many memories of christmas lunches there…served by management!’

Gordon Astley: ‘.Lynn..sometimes it was only time in the year you found out who was management !! Anyone got the scones recipe ?’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Re management I recall the times there were lift failures and those of us who could manage it would think nothing of stepping it out up the whole flight of stairs and then it became clear who were the management…..they were the ones appearing to be nonchalantly taking in the view on each landing trying hard to disguise their lack of breath!!

Gordon Astley:’..just out of interest re: the 1st ABS strike I remember walking out on a Saturday morning with Barry Lankester. The press was waiting. It was the 1st BBC strike. Barry said we had been set up. Most members weren’t working that day, took the day off, there was a trip to London, (and my dad was very upset with me)..I had only just joined the Beeb. My boss (Eddie Deighton?) told me to go..and see him on Monday. I did and he said that I should not worry….but it was a shame that no other union members turned up to back us in Broad Street. It still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Does anyone else have memories of that day…and what was the strike about…methinks it was Broadcasting in the ’70s. ?’

Pebble Mill at night

Pebble Mill lit up at night, autumn 2004














Photo by Tim Savage, no reproduction without permission.

Tim took this photo in autumn 2004, as Pebble Mill was being cleared before being demolished in 2005.

Pebble Mill Auction Viewing

Photos by Tim Savage, no reproduction without permission.

Tim (VT Editor and Colourist), took these photos in the last days of Pebble Mill, during the viewing days for the auction selling off equipment not being taken to the Mailbox.  It was held in autumn 2004.  The photos feature many members of Pebble Mill post production including Chris Rowlands, John Burkill and Colin Fearnley, as well as production staff like Tony Rayner.  The number of bald heads fascinated by various items in the auction is notable!

Please add a comment if you can identify others.

Radio WM Self-Opt News Studio – Pete Simpkin

Rear of Pebble Mill, showing the 2nd floor bar balcony
Photo by Tim Savage












The recent entries about the old second floor Club at Pebble Mill reminded me that when Radio WM took over the bar area for it’s new Newsroom a self operate news studio was incorporated, a first for us.  Advantage was taken of the, then, new technology which enabled news inserts to be played in by the newsreaders themselves from audio cartridges.  These were prepared by the bulletins editor and handed with the scripts to whoever was presenting.  The increased speed of production and the consequent later deadlines for inserts meant that inevitably there would be a disaster and it was my luck to be the duty reader to delight the listening thousands with it!

Having read the headlines I introduced the first recorded item and fired off the cart only to discover it had been mislabeled and so bore no relationship to the intro. script. After apologizing I went into the next introduction only to find the second cart too had been mislabeled. Having to do something I tried the third one which turned out to be the first story but set halfway through. At this stage I shut the microphone off and intercommed the editor to come in and collect this wrecked pile of scripts and carts and very kindy sort them out……or words to that effect.

He never returned.  To keep the bulletin running I embarked on a reading of the other stories which were in the form of an endless teleprint of national stories subbed in London and sent out by teleprinter, ready to be read at sight. With an ever widening eye of disbelief I saw ahead a row of letters ZCZCZCZC approaching which in teleprint means ‘end of message’, unfortunately this was halfway through a story. Luckily I had read this one in an earlier bulletin so was able to conclude it from memory.

Having only done 5 minutes of a 12 minute bulletin I was left with no alternative but to hand over to the next programme of which the presenter was already in the studio and able to rescue yours truly. Still nothing like that could happen today in this wonder-tech age. Could it.

Pete Simpkin

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

Andy Walters: ‘We were still on carts in 2001. Cart recorders don’t have erase heads. Some readers had a habit of erasing them in a Weircliffe eraser used for tapes and then stacked the erased carts on top of the machine. This would give a lovely swooshing effect to subsequent recordings. Then there was the cardinal sin of erasing carts with the hand that your watch was on.’

Last days of Pebble Mill – interiors

Pebble Mill main lifts

Studio A entrance

Studio A entrance





































Photos by Tim Savage, no reproduction without permission.

VT Editor, Tim, took these photos just before the auctioning off of equipment in autumn 2004, before Pebble Mill was demolished in 2005.

The first photo shows the main lifts, on the ground floor, at the rear of the building.

The second two photos are of different entrances to Studio A. Studio A had been stripped as a digital studio by this time, although ‘Doctors’ may still have been using it to house sets and film in, along with other locations around the building.

Notice the photo of Warren Clarke from ‘Dalziel and Pascoe’ on the wall in the second photo.