Beeb the Biter Bit

BBC chewed up and spat outInspired by Chrissy’s post the other day, I decided to pay my own photographic respects to the old New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road in Manchester now being chewed up by the the demolishers.

I took a wider view, but I quite liked the shot on the left. The demolition machine looked like some sort of mechanical monster on the rampage, chewing up bits of concrete and steel. (Click it to enlarge)

I have my own reasons for remembering the BBC’s northern studio, if not as intimately as Chrissy. I had to go there quite often to accompany a nervous interviewee about to get the third degree over the state of the NHS.

But I also made a few friends there over the years. People like Clare Smith who was the health correspondent for many years. Despite her fearsome reputation as a reporter, you couldn’t fault either her fairness or her journalism.

BBC DemolitionIt was Clare who also took time to unearth a 1955 BBC documentary about health and life in Salford which I’ve loaded again to YouTube, but as a single film rather than in sections.

I’ve included it below and it is worth watching if you have thirty minutes to spare as a reminder of social conditions in the industrial north of England within living memory.

Ironically, the BBC has crossed the Irwell to the now trendy Salford to take up residence in its new home at Media City, dragging along the national Radio 5, sport and children’s output, as well as continuing with the old favourites, like Dragon’s Den, Songs of Praise and Question of Sport.

I’ve yet to visit Media City, an omission I hope to put right soon, but I wonder how long that complex will last, given that New Broadcasting House was only thirty-seven years old before it outlived its usefulness.

Who knows, I might just live long enough to photograph another demolition, albeit without the same sense of loss.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Arctic Fox 6th September 2012

    great photos…. you’re right, it’s a metal dinosaur chomping its way through urban decay (and that rhymes too!) – It’s always sad to see familiar buildings go, and the fact that their “contemporary” replacements tend to become outmoded quicker than the originals….. now I’m not saying much, but Huddersfield is a travest of its former self…. 1970s indoor market….. a crummy Piazza….. and the new vibrant ultimately avoidable Kingsgate shopping development that now means the rest of the town is full of pound shops and charity stores….. and of course empty premises. I seem to have slightly hijacked your post now for my own personal diatribe…. sorry!!

  • Roger Green 6th September 2012

    It seems untoward how poorly we treat each other, or fail to.

  • Chrissy Brand 7th September 2012

    Am moved that my post inspired you so SP! Will look forward to that video as a Friday afternoon work treat (especially as I work in health).

  • Mr Parrot 7th September 2012

    Arctic Fox: I have memories of Huddersfield as it used to be myself as I worked there for a while in the late 1970s. The office was in the old building facing the station and was a bit strange because there were old ladies living in flats nextdoor. I doubt if I’d recognise the place now.

    Chrissy: If you work in health, I think you’ll appreciate the film!

  • Trevor Rowley 7th September 2012

    Of course, New Broadcasting House wasn’t (as the name suggests) the BBC’s first centre of operations in Manchester. That distinction went to Broadcasting House which stood (and may still be doing) in Piccadilly, in the city centre. Situated directly opposite the original Piccadilly Gardens (long before the more recent introduction of concrete everywhere) it stood on the same side of the square as the old Woolworth’s store (the site of a huge fire in the 1960s which took many lives).

    I associate this older BBC bulding with the days of radio and especially radio as it was directed at us children. Forgive my reminiscences, Mr P, but names like Wifred Pickles (Workers’ Playtime), Violet Carson (Children’s Hour) and Daphne Oxenford (Listen with Mother) spring to mind. There was also the Out with Romany series featuring the voice of G.Bramwell Evans as Romany and accompanied by Raq, the dog. There was also a regular weekly offering of Jennings or Toytown (Larry the Lamb et al).

    One lasting favourite just had to be Children’s Favourites with “Uncle Mac” (Derek McCulloch). Try this for size


  • gerald 8th September 2012

    The original BBC building in Manchester is now Debenham’s – the old Woolworths on Piccadilly until recently was Nobles Amusements but that has closed down now.

  • Trevor Rowley 10th September 2012

    I think you could be right with the location of the former Woolworth’s building, Gerald, but the original BBC building wasn’t Debenham’s. Paulden’s department store traded somewhere down Chester Road/Stretford side of the city centre. In about 1958, they had a huge fire which destroyed that building. A year or so later they re-emerged at the former Rylands Building (a huge textile warehouse on the corner, directly opposite the Lewis’ department store). A few years later, they changed the name to Debenham’s. The BBC building was on the same side as Woolworth’s but further up towards the London Road direction.

  • Mr Parrot 11th September 2012

    I think you are right Trevor. I have a vague memory of the BBC where you describe it, in the white building that also houses Nat West bank, between Lever Street and Oldham Street.

    Of course, it wasn’t the first broadcasting centre in Manchester as the BBC previously used the converted church on Dickinson Road in Rusholme where the first Top of the Pops was first produced.


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