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Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
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George

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In 1923 BBC engineering research and development work took place in a room on the third floor, west wing, of the IEE building at Savoy Place, London.  This was the BBC's original head office - No.2 Savoy Hill (following a move from temporary accommodation in Marconi House). 

More space was soon needed, so the fledgling engineering division moved its Development Department to Avenue House, 87 Kings Avenue, Clapham in south London - the former residence of the governor of Brixton PrisonOutside the front door there stood two "beasties", lion-like creatures about 4ft high, which had been made by one of the prisoners.  Apparently it was intended for the pair to hold shields, but the prisoner was released before he had time to make them.  Little did he know that one of his creations would be seen, in the next century, holding a web site banner.

They were originally painted cream but over the years became just dirty white, until Avenue House was repainted by Bill Picket.  He was a notable character with a sergeant major-type waxed and pointed moustache, who was so taken with the beasties that he seemed to spend more time on them than on the house.  He finished them in a dark chocolate colour with teeth and claws in gleaming white and tongue in red.  He managed to produce a most wicked look in their eyes.

When the department moved to Chiswick in 1958 the new building was also named Avenue House and the beasties moved there.

BBC Equipment Department moved out of Avenue House in 1993 and the beasties moved to Kingswood Warren in Surrey, home of BBC Research & Development for many years.  When the BBC sold this establishment the beasties moved to Centre house, the present home of part of BBC Research & Development.  Perhaps they are still there.

They guarded over BBC Engineering Division throughout most of its existence, so it is appropriate to feature one of them on the home page of this web site.  At some point they were named Gryphon and George.  I think that George is holding the web site banner.  (When the pictures were sent to me they were called Pinky and Perky!)

 

 

With thanks to

"L.G." Smith

and the book:

The Emergence of
Broadcasting in Britain

 - for most of the information above.

The prisoner story is based on information passed via Neale Davison (ex-R&D) from Dennis Booty (ex-D&ED) and it ties in with information from "L.G." Smith.

 

They are pictured here at Kingswood Warren: