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Television Studio installations

Page history last edited by David Samways 6 years, 11 months ago Saved with comment





Independent Television Authority (ITA) Croydon - 1968


Notes by Chris Hibbert, station engineer from January 1967 to October 1969.


The transmission site was constructed for the Independent Television Authority as a turnkey installation by Marconi in readiness for the UK’s first commercial 405 line television service which launched in London in September 1955 on Channel 9 in the VHF Band-111 (V194.75MHz). Modulation was positive with peak white being peak power.


Initially there was one transmission set installed for test transmissions.  A second set was added before the service commenced.


This was the first time television would be transmitted in the VHF Band-111 and there was no transmission equipment in production at the time.  The first set of transmitters was built in a hurry.  Marconi engineers produced a prototype set of sound and vision transmitters in which the vision transmitter stages comprised three tuned coaxial line amplifiers with the video modulation (2000V peak-to-peak) applied on the grid of the third stage followed by a wide band amplifier.  Note in the picture the car wing mirror at the side of the RF envelope monitor.  This was so that the envelope could be seen while bending down at the adjacent cubicle to adjust the linearity.  The sound transmitter was a conventional valve arrangement.  The power supplies for each transmitter were modified second hand equipments released from the de-commissioned RN ships, HMS Gothic and HMS Dorchester.


The second “production” transmitter set used coaxial line amplifiers for both sound and vision.  The transmitters stood in the main hall along with the aerial switching frame which was manually changed over by means of coaxial “paddles”.


The control room housed a control and monitoring desk, the sound and vision input processing equipment and test waveform generators.  Also a sound mixer with a transcription turn table for playing LP records for the Test Card music.  There was a monoscope scanner which was used in the earlier years for producing the first tuning test card.


A separate room contained a Cintel telecine and slide scanner for playing promotional films, standby films in the event of studio failure, and the later Test Cards.  The telecine traction unit was removed to make space for the line store standards converters.


Sound and vision feeds from the studios came from the Post Office building in Foley Street and were switched between Associated Redifusion studios in Kingsway (Monday to Friday) and ATV also at Foley Street (weekends).  The sound feed came by an audio balanced line “Tariff M” circuit with a mono frequency response up to 10 KHz.  The vision feed originated as a 20 Volt peak-to-peak analogue signal which was sent by coaxial line.  By the time the signal reached the transmission site it required significant boosting and equalisation.  There was a return “Tariff M” circuit and raised subcarrier equipment feeding the coaxial line which was used by outside broadcast trucks injecting sports programmes from Crystal Palace back to the studios.


All the transmission and base band equipment used valves.  As I was the most junior engineer the AVO valve tester was the first piece of equipment I was expected to be familiar with!  The first transistorised equipment on site were the 405-625 line store converters required to keep the VHF service working when the studios changed to 625 line working.


The building was utilitarian, constructed of concrete block walls and a corrugated asbestos roof.  It was demolished after a new building was commissioned in 1967 containing a new set of transmission equipment supplied by Pye and a bigger control room capable of remotely monitoring the main UHF transmitter at Crystal Palace and its associated relay stations.


Staff I can remember:


Engineer-in-Charge    Grover Tagholm

Assistant E-in-C         Ken Matchett

Senior Engineer:        Keith Hopkins

                                Terry Buckle

Engineers:                 Eric Caley

                                Reg French

                                Denis ?

                                Chris Hibbert

Station Cook:             Mrs Amis


I transferred to The Dover ITA station in October 1969




Disclaimer: These notes are in good faith from my memories from 48 years ago. I apologise for any unintentional inaccuracies


Pictures taken by Chris Hibbert at the time can be seen here




Television Demonstration Unit (TDU)


A huge asset to Marconi was the ability to demonstrate and supply technical services to clients in the early days of television.  Click here for further details.


These pages show some of the television studio installations that Marconi have installed around the world.




Various middle and far east installations - 1972-1988


Peter Smolka worked for Marconi as an installation engineer in the Television Demonstration Unit (TDU), which latterly became the Operational Services Group (OSG), between 1972 and 1988.  These pictures describe some of the activities and installations he was involved with.



NoviSad, Serbia – 1974


Commentary by John Scott…


During the first half of the 1970s, the Broadcasting Division of Marconi Communications were attempting to sell MkVIII cameras and other studio equipment to various regional TV stations in what was then Yugoslavia.  The TV stations at Belgrade, NoviSad, Pristina, Skopje and Zagreb all bought some equipment, but probably the NoviSad deal was the largest, and I spent some considerable time there, installing and commissioning this equipment.


On completion, one of the items given to me was an album of photos showing various Marconi and TV NoviSad personnel, photos taken in the studios and during the first major operation of the OB vehicles at the 1974 European Table Tennis Championships in NoviSad.  This album can be viewed here.


To celebrate the commissioning of the OB vans, a Table Tennis match between Marconi and TV NoviSad took place at the venue of the European Championships, with the three Marconi players being Tom Mayer, Tony Condon and Wally Fell - I do not know the names of the three NoviSad players, but Wally Fell will be at the Reunion next month (October 2013), so I will see if he can remember their names.


It should be noted that NovSad was the capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina within Serbia (this was a very important point that all the locals continuously made to me!).


Abu Dhabi - 1969


These pictures were taken by Jim Light when installing the Marconi equipment in Abu Dhabi during 1969.


The Vision Mixer was a Semi AutoMatic System (SAMS) using Uniselectors to store next event selection. It was capable of storing 8 'next events'.                        





























































Smith Kline and French (SKF) - 1959


Have a look at this silent video produced by the BBC for their 'Look East' program http://www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/225571.  It is in the East Anglian Film Archive. They have four B3410 Telecines and their Telecine Engineer is Peter Smolka ex Marconi TDU / OSG


The OB van had BD 848 Colour Cameras.



Westward Television - 1961


Click here for an article on the Westward television system



















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