Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
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Marconi-E.M.I Television System

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Click here for the full technical description. It was scanned by Nick Cutmore in July 2018 and his contribution is gratefully acknowledged. 
Nick's version is better than the original because it includes a navigation system which provides links from the contents pages, and the PDF file is searchable if saved and opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

This is an important document as it describes the system used for the world’s first regular high definition public television service in 1936.

It is not an overview. The document describes the system in great technical detail. It is therefore a significant record of broadcast technology history.

As the title shows, the system was developed by Marconi and E.M.I. but the document was produced by D. C Birkinshaw who was the BBC Engineer-in-Charge at the London Television Station, Alexandra Palace from 1936 to 1939. There are twelve sections describing various aspects and they are dated from 1937 to 1939, with some amendments up to 1950. They cover the entire broadcast chain from camera to aerial, with the exception of the transmitter's RF amplifier (but the modulator is included).

My intention to publish this document was posted on bbceng in 2016 and the reaction was entirely positive.  However, if you know of any concerns or objections please let me know (see Publication Policy). The intellectual property in the document came from Marconi and E.M.I. These companies no longer exist, but their major contribution to television engineering is duly acknowledged. As the system was created in the 1930s it is unlikely that anyone involved is still alive, but their descendants should be very proud of the tremendous achievements.

I would also like to pay tribute to the author Douglas Birkinshaw. I don't know how much assistance he had, but the result is a highly commendable piece of work. Of course he went on to produce, with S.W Amos, the important series of text books: Television Engineering - Principles and Practice. This link goes to a page which includes a video of him in his later years.

The physical copies shown below are in approximate order of notification to BBCeng:-

  1. Number 215 is held by Martin Ellen (rescued from BBC Transmission Headquarters in Warwick, when it closed down).
  2. Number 1260 is held by Nick Cutmore (rescued from Wrotham transmitting station by Peter Sparks).
  3. Number ???? is held by Richard Prytaherch (rescued from Alexandra Palace by his father).
  4. Number ???? is held by Phil Marrison (rescued from Sutton Coldfield).
  5. Number ???? is held by John Sykes (rescued from Kingswood Warren).
  6. Number 15 is held by Phil Martland (rescued from Pontop Pike).
  7. Number 147 is held by Phil Martland (rescued from Pontop Pike).
  8. Number 212? is held by Paul. Adrian Webber has contact details.
  9. Number 1316 is held by Neil Wilson (The Radio Museum), formerly belonging to A.A.Leak.
  10. Number 1439 is held by C.J.Webster. Neil Wilson (The Radio Museum) has contact details.
  11. Number 1301 was acquired from Len Kelly in the 1990s. Present owner unknown.
  12. Number 1263 (from Moorside Edge) was acquired from Len Kelly in the 1990s. Present owner unknown.
  13. Number 119 (originally issued to W.J.Pearce) was possibly acquired from Len Kelly in the 1990s. Present owner unknown.
  14. Number 1143 was acquired by Hedley Versey who started his career at Alexandra Palace in 1936 when he was 18yrs old.
  15. Number 1409 is held on display by the Wireless in Wales Vintage Radio Museum in Denbigh, which is run by David Crawford.  It was issued to his late father Robert "Bob" Crawford either during his time at Westerglen 1945-1952 or when he was at Moorside Edge 1952-1956. The handbook has all the amendments and is in very good condition.
  16. Number 9 is held by the Science Museum in London.
  17. Number 1490 is held by Dave Le Breton and appears never to have been issued, so is in excellent condition and has an amendments page dated January 1950. It was given to him at some point late in his BBC career, probably as a result of a storage area in the Langham being cleared. It is one of his “treasures”.
  18. Number 1402 is held by Dave Le Breton and also appears never to have been issued.  It was passed on to him from a friend.
  19. Number 1042 is held by Mr C. G. Wright who started working for the BBC Transmitter Department at Alexandra Palace in the 1940s, progressing to become Engineer in Charge of setting up BBC Local Radio Stations. David Crawford has contact details.

The list above was compiled between 2016 and 2021.

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