”Hark, The Engine’s Failing”: The Closedown of 2MT Writtle
January 17th 1923: 2MT Writtle, Britain's first regular broadcasting station, closes down for the last time.
Its chief voice, director of programmes, Lord of Misrule Peter Pendleton Eckersley toasts its listeners with a glass of water, upgraded to champagne via the use of a pop gun - innovating to the last with one of radio's first ever sound effects. Then Eckersley, the first BBC-basher, switched sides and promptly joined the BBC, as its first Chief Engineer.
On episode 47, we've reached the moment where the BBC's peculiar airwaves rival finally shuffles off the ether, having somehow given birth to Auntie Beeb, but outserved its purpose. We tell the full story of how, why, whereupon and whomsoever led to the 2MT closedown, plus we review nearly a year of Writtle broadcasts, including the first radio quiz, first radio play and first radio mockery of a different radio station's chimes.
You'll hear the voices of (and we're indebted to) original radio pioneers Peter Eckersley, Noel Ashbridge and Rolls Wynn, and present-day experts and fans Tim Wander, Jim Salmon, CRH News, and granddaughters of PPE, Caroline and Alison Eckersley - they chatted to CRH News, who've kindly loaned us their audio.
Tim Wander's new book is 2MT Writtle 1922-2022: The Centenary of British Radio Broadcasting, and is available at https://2mtwrittle100.co.uk
Tim's other books are at https://marconibooks.co.uk
Thanks to CRH News for the loan of their audio of their video interview with Caroline and Alison Eckersley. Watch the full video at https://youtu.be/AMFKrsRVd5c - and see the rest of the CRH News Youtube channel for more videos, inc of Tim Wander's book launch.
The video of the walk I did with Jim Salmon, from Writtle hut to Writtle pub, is a free post for all on https://www.patreon.com/posts/66447373
The video of the Radio Museum tour (in Watchet, Somerset) is also a free post for all on https://www.patreon.com/posts/65666411
...Most videos I keep for Patreon supporters only - so, become one? It all supports the podcast, which otherwise, I'm doing for £nowt. Chip in at patreon.com/paulkerensa - starting at £5/mth. It helps keep the podcast going, AND you get behind-the-scenes vids etc in return.
The tour? The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922 heads to Kettering, Worthing, Ludlow, Watchet (pop into the Radio Museum while there?), Tunbridge Wells, St Albans, Salford, Guildford, Isle of Wight, Cheltenham (pop to Writtle while there?) - details of all paulkerensa.com/tour - say 'Hullo, hullo" if you come!
Thanks to Andrew Barker our Newspaper Detective, Will Farmer our composer of original music, the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham, and the team effort of above names who've made this episode possible.
Archive clips are either public domain due to age, or some rights may belong to owners we know not whom. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
We're nothing to do with the present-day BBC whatsoever - just a solo operation.
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Linktree.com/paulkerensa has Paul's mailing list and details of his books, including Hark! The Biography of Christmas, on the history of Christmas. Coming soon: Auntie and Uncles, the novel on this here broadcasting origin story...
NEXT TIME: The only other legal rival to the BBC on the air in 1923: The Daimler in-car radio broadcasts...
Thanks for listening!