BackgroundPosted by Stephen Butt Wed, March 22, 2017 17:30:50 Further to the discussion about the BBC Mark III desk, we really had no excuse. We all had copies of this manual, commissioned by Liam McCarthy (Managing Editor) and compiled by Jeff Link who wrote the text and provided the artwork.
At the moment (March 2017) part of one of the Radio Leicester Mk IIIs is on display at 9 St Nicholas Place as part of the build-up to the 50th anniversary celebrations. The Sonifex cartridge players have been a subject of considerable discussion on social media.
A footnote to my earlier comments about the Mk2 desk - The first time I used one was at BBC Radio Bristol when I was operating for Kate Adie, then the presenter and producer of the mid-morning sequence. This was before I came to Leicester. She was very gracious in dealing with my operational inadaquacies.
BackgroundPosted by Stephen Butt Thu, November 10, 2016 15:42:42 The BBC studios at 9 St Nicholas Place are located in the heart of the old town and close to the centre of the Roman settlement, so it is not surprising that a lot of interesting history lies beneath its modern foundations.
This undercroft, dating to the late twelfth century, was first discovered in 1844 (as far as records suggest) when the building which was demolished to make way for the BBC building was itself constructed.
Above (right) is a photograph of the structure from 1844 next to (left) the same view in 2002/3.
Its re-discovery took place a few years before the BBC moved onto the site when the old building was being used as an antiques warehouse. The wife of one of the antique business partners was taken to A&E when the ground gave way above the undercroft and she fell down into it, breaking her leg.
When formal excavations began, the first archaeologist to venture underground was Dr Richard Buckley who was later to direct the team which found the remains of Richard III.
Read more about the undercroft and the ULAS excavations here.
BackgroundPosted by Stephen Butt Tue, November 08, 2016 12:03:15 It is true to say that BBC Radio Leicester pioneered broadcasting for diverse communities, and particularly the growing Asian community. With thanks to Dave Kirkwood, this image records the work of the station in this field in the early days.
In this photograph
from 1968, Mr Nazim Muradali
and his wife, Mrs Vidya Pooran-Muradali, from Trinidad, are with Station
Assistant Dave Kirkwood and Rita Chapman, the producer of the ‘Programme for Immigrants’. Nazim Muradali was an MP in Trinidad and at
one time a popular radio announcer. He still serves as a Justice of the Peace in his home country. His late wife was formerly the Principal of
ASJA Girls College in San Fernando.
BackgroundPosted by Stephen Butt Sun, October 02, 2016 17:09:39 The opening of BBC Radio Leicester was noticed by many folk in Leicester thanks to the publiciity campaign which the BBC had been running over the previous three months. One group who paid much attention to the event was the Free Radio Campaign.
As the staff calmed their nerves and checked that all was ready for the opening programme, and as the special civic, political and BBC guests arrived, the campaigners staged a protest in Lower Lee Street, outside the entrnce to Epic House.
The protest was prompted by the Marine Offences Bill which became law on 14th August 1967, less than three month's before the launch of Radio Leicester. The Bill saw the end of most of the pirate radio stations.
BackgroundPosted by Stephen Butt Sun, October 02, 2016 13:49:03 In 1998, five years before the BBC took over the site of their planned new studios in St Nicholas Place, Malcolm Elliott of the Victorian Society (Leicester) recorded a short film for Leicester Cable Television.
Malcolm points out the mosaic tiles which were a notable feature of the frontage of the old building. These tiles were rescued and are preserved within the the BBC studios.
Epic House is a typical, if
architecturally unimaginative, concrete and steel construction of the
mid-1960s, standing at the northern end of Charles Street near to the centre of Leicester. It is a familiar landmark recognised by most Leicester inhabitants.
The ten floor tower block stands about 120 feet above a two-storey
retail store. It was built in 1965 and the local celebrity and national
radio personality, the late Lady Isabel Barnett of the White House in
Cossington, performed the opening ceremony.
A plaque in the reception foyer above the lift entrances, now
covered over by a later refurbishment, records that event.
The ground floor was
originally occupied by a Safeway supermarket. Later
the premises were used by a discount furniture retailer. The Wilkinson
Stores group took over the shop premises in the 1990s and constructed a
large extension on the former car park behind the tower on land
bordering Clarence Street
and Lower Lee Street.
The area where Epic House
stands, between Belgrave Gate and Clarence Street, has
been an ever-changing townscape since early Victorian times. Epic House
was built on the site of the former Leicester (or Leicestershire) horse
repository which was near to the old route into Leicester from
and Lincoln, Loughborough and
was constructed in 1932 as a bypass to remove traffic from the clock
tower area of the city. Originally, traffic to and from the north would
have passed this location en route
to the Haymarket and the East Gate of the town near to where the
Victorian clock tower now stands.
The original Repository - a building
in the Victorian Gothic style - stood on a nearby site in Belgrave Gate
close to the present junction of Charles Street, Belgrave Gate,
Charles Street and Bedford Street.
At one time, the junction where Belgrave Gate and Bedford Street
meet, just a short distance from Lee Street and Hill Street, was the
gateway into the Wharf Street area of the town.
This was a network of small
streets and courts where, in the Victorian
era, thousands of people lived in poor
conditions, in back-to-backs and in even more squalid tenements which
could be reached only through dark alleys.
As a business, the history of
the repository dates back to 1875. For twenty years before that, a
paddock adjoining the ancient Bell Hotel on Humberstone Gate had been
used for the same purpose, the buying, selling and stabling of horses.
The building in
Charles Street replaced this earlier
repository when the new route avoiding the clock tower and Gallowtree
Gate was created. It was completed in 1930 and opened formally on the
first day of the famous Leicester Pageant. The newer repository was
designed by the Leicester
architect Clement Copeland Ogden, whose practice was located in Friar Lane.
Its purpose may have broadened
over the years, and one can imagine that at some
time, the incoming stage and mail coaches would have changed their
horses here. In a similar
way to a modern services area, various ancillary businesses would have
clustered around the repository including a public house which also
offered overnight accommodation. This hostelry was originally called The
Horse Breaker's Arms but later become The Repository Hotel.
In earlier times, Joseph
Merrick, the 'Elephant Man' worked here as a boy of about twelve, hand-rolling
cigars for a tobacconist in Hill Street, until his affliction
meant he could no longer undertake the task with the required
degree of accuracy and neatness. Merrick was born in the
next street, Lee Street.
The tobacconist's shop faced Hill Street which
is now the pedestrianised Lower Hill Street and was
located approximately where the reception entrance for Epic House now
stands. Although the repository at that date was in Belgrave Gate, no
doubt the tobacconist drew much of his trade from the men who stabled
their horses there. The final owners and operators of the repository
were Warner, Shepherd and Wade who were well-known auctioneers in Leicester until recent times, the original site having
been purchased by George Tempest Wade in 1875. The later repository was
finally demolished in March 1962.
In the summer and autumn of 2001
before the extension to the ground floor retail store was built, a
detailed archaeological survey of the car park next to Clarence Street and
behind the tower was carried out.
The site lies to the east of the Roman town defences
in an area previously identified with Roman cemeteries. The excavations
revealed the most easterly remains of a Roman cemetery. Sixty two
inhumations were discovered. A number of earlier Roman features were
also excavated which included some substantial domestic and industrial
pits. A later monitoring and recording exercise revealed a further 33
Roman inhumations and one earlier pit. All the burials were on a
west-east orientation and the bodies had been laid in their resting
place on their backs. They
were lacking grave goods and a number were in nailed timber coffins.
Since BBC Radio Leicester's move to 9 St Nicholas Place in June
2005, most floors of Epic House have been unoccupied. Planning
permission was granted for the conversion of part of the building to
apartments, but the work has been somewhat sporadic.
BackgroundPosted by Stephen Butt Sun, October 02, 2016 07:33:25 After thirty-three years at Epic House in Charles Street, BBC Radio
Leicester and the BBC Asian Network moved to purpose-built studios at 9
St Nicholas Place near to the historic heart of the old town, close to
the Cathedral, Guildhall and the site of the medieval High Cross.
road junction of Guildhall Lane and St Nicholas Place is very close to
the track of the Roman Fosse Way on its route through Leicester. No
doubt, it was here that the latest news from the south would be heard
from merchants and military travellers. In later times, the Town Crier
accompanied by the town's leaders would gather on this corner to
proclaim important news such as the death of a monarch, rumours of wars and new taxes. So this is a
very appropriate location for a BBC local radio station.
The brainchild of former BBC war correspondent Frank Gillard, Radio Leicester was the first UK mainland local radio station and began broadcasting on 8th November 1967 from small studios in Epic House, an office block in Charles Street.
The station's first manager, Maurice Ennals, faced opposition from within the BBC and from the local press who saw the station as competition.
The station broadcast only on VHF (FM) which limited its potential audience, and in the early days there were four hours of locally-made programmes each day.
From the start, Radio Leicester broadcast special programmes for the Asian community which developed into the present-day BBC Asian Network.
By the time Radio Leicester moved, in 2005, to its new studios in St Nicholas Place, it was making more than fourteen hours of local output, and had an audience of almost 25% of the population of Leicester and Leicestershire.
Many familiar names began their broadcasting careers in Leicester including the BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew MBE, former Radio One DJ Adrian Juste and Countryfile presenter and Radio 4 farming correspondent Charlotte Smith.