See Part 2. Accrington (1954) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
1.1 TOC H Broadcasting Service (About 1961/62)
An article written in March 1958 stated: “The Accrington Branch of TOC H are to supplement football commentaries to the local hospitals with programmes of local news and topics of interest to be relayed daily. They hope to further extend the service by relaying programmes to old people’s hostels”.
Mr E Clegg, a member of the Accrington Football Commentary service in the 1950s recalls: “The broadcasting of local news and topics of interest just never happened. We did request programme from our ‘TOC H’ house in Abbey Street to the hospital. As far as I remember this programme started about 1961/62. When we did our record requests we used to rely on the generosity of our local shops for the loan of the records on the night of the broadcast”.
The provision of the nightly radio request programme was brought into fruition by Mr Wooley, the hospital administrator, persuading the hospital authorities to install telephone lines between TOC H’s broadcasting studios, on Abbey Street in Accrington and the Victoria Hospital.
Further lines were installed to Rough Lee Maternity Hospital quite soon after. Request forms were distributed throughout the hospitals during visiting time and collected later the same night. From these requests a nightly programme was complied. Records for these programmes were loaned by Haworth’s music shop in Accrington.
During Health Authority re-organisations, the up until now independent Accrington Victoria Hospital was amalgamated with the Blackburn and District hospitals forming the now familiar Area Health Authority.
The Blackburn hospitals had their own, newly formed broadcasting service (in 1964) but TOC H continued to provide nightly radio programmes to the A.V.H until falling membership numbers lead to TOC H asking the Blackburn organisation to take over in 1965. See Blackburn.
2.1 Radio Cambridge (Start Date Required)
Radio Cambridge provided a service at the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot.
In 1996 the Cambridge Military Hospital closed.
3.1 Radio Treloar (1979)
Radio Treloar, Alton Hospital Broadcasting Service, started broadcasting in 1979.
On 6 September 1979 Radio Treloar adopted its constitution and the service became a registered charity on 20 Nov 1979.
On 10 May 2005 the service was removed from the charity register.
4.1 Radio Heatherwood (1969)
“The early beginnings of radio Heatherwood can be traced back to 1969 when one man decided to play records to the patients of Heatherwood. Bill Berry the then works foreman at Heatherwood used his own records and with a turntable and mike would play requests to patients from a room in the old admin block. Bill was providing a record request program to the general wards on a Tuesday evening for two hours”.
“The league had agreed to fund the rental of records at £50 a year so that the programs could go out. Bill used some of his own 78’s along with those of family and friends. This early service was plagued by faulty equipment on the wards. The service was very much a one man band operation. It was a request to the league of friends that prompted the investment in new equipment and the launch of Radio Heatherwood”.
The records of the league of friends minutes from 1969 shows entries detailing the work of Bill and the service referred to at that time as “Patient Request Programme ”.
On the 9 January 1988 the radio station closed down for the fitting out of the new studio’s, plus the installation of an inductive loop AM transmission system.
On 2 April 1988 Radio Heatherwood started broadcasting on AM 999khz The Mayor of Windsor officially inaugurating the new service.
Radio Heatherwood ceased broadcasting at 10 am on 3 December 2016.
For a detailed history of Radio Heatherwood go to:
5.1 Northumberland Hospital Radio (1974)
Northumberland Hospital Radio was established in 1974.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to 6 hospitals from their studio at the Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington.
“Hear us at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck General Hospitals on Hospedia radio channel 1, at Alnwick Infirmary and Blyth Community Hospital on bedside radio channel 1 and at Northumbria Hospital on the Lincor bedside entertainment system, radio channel 1”.
6.1 AHBS Hospital Radio (1971)
The Ashford Hospital Broadcasting Service started broadcasting to the William Harvey Hospital in 1971.
In 2016: “We broadcast a mixture of music, information and entertainment 24 hours a day via the Hospedia bedside entertainment system to the William Harvey Hospital. You can find us there on Radio Channel 1, 24 hours a day.
We also broadcast our daily request show on Radio Ashford across Ashford on 107.1FM”.
7.1 Stoke Manderville (1978)
Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Stoke Mandeville Hospital at “7.30 pm on Monday December the 4th 1978 after more than a year of planning and fundraising. The first voice to be heard was presenter Geoff Tyrell. At this time we were only broadcasting for three evenings a week”.
“In 1997 Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio was one of two Hospital Radio stations to be awarded a temporary experimental AM licence by Ofcom and as a result of the success of that experiment we and many other Hospital radio stations are now able to broadcast permanently on AM (or as some people still like to call it, Medium Wave)”.
The new AM service on 1575 kHz was launched on 26 January 1998 by DJ Simon Bates. On the same day the service started broadcasting 24 hours a day with a mixture of live programmes and an automated sustaining service using the Myriad PC playout software.
In March 2007 the service had move out the building that housed its studio and set up another studio in another part of the hospital. “On Tuesday the 12 June 2007 the computers were started back up and the sound of Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio was once again broadcasting to the hospital complex”. This, however, was from a temporary studio.
“In September 2008 we were very pleased to find out from the Hospital trust that in 2009, we will be moving to an exciting new onsite location. The new premises provide the vital extra space required to enable us to upgrade our facilities to include a second live studio, These new facilities enabled us to offer an even better service to the Patients and Staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital by way of more request shows and children’s entertainment programmes, along with many other programmes promoting patient and listener involvement.
On 4 December 2008 Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio celebrated the fact that we had been broadcasting to the Hospital for 30 years. Current members of the station, as well as some former and founder members got together for a chat and a bite to eat. Also present was the President of the Hospital Broadcasting Association June Snowden, who presented some of our members with long service awards.
An automated test broadcasts started from the new studio on 28 May 2010, and on 4 October live programmes started again. “On Tuesday the 23rd of November 2010, Ken Bruce from BBC Radio 2 officially opened our new studios”.
In July 2011 Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio started broadcasting on line.
Station engineer Simon Daniels said “With wifi and internet access becoming widely available now in hospital we want to ensure we give the patients every possible means to listen to SMHR”
“2015 saw the launch of our own App”.
8.1 Radio Horton (1964)
On Thursday 7 July 1964 at 7.30pm patients at “Banbury’s Horton Hospital plugged in their earphones to hear for the first time the strains of the Westminster Waltz followed by the magic words “Radio Horton Calling”.
“The stars were local journalists Ted Hanson and Graham Wilton, who with Graham’s wife Christine, not only presented the early shows but were the originators of the entire project.
Radio Horton was Ted’s brainchild, and for him and Graham that first programme was the culmination of almost a year of planning, obtaining various permissions, approvals and equipment, cataloguing records and finally preparing and arranging the programme format”.
This first programme consisted of two half-hours of patient requests linked by a short review of local news and was recorded on tape in the sitting room of Graham’s Banbury home.
After only three or four programmes the team decided that they must “Go Live”. The first studio was set up in the corner of a hospital committee room; consisting of a record player, one selector switch and a microphone. Another move took place to the Red Cross Library “with the result that the books absorbed the “echo” that was common place with the committee room”.
Ted Hanson continued his active involvement until April 2005 and his outstanding contribution was recognised on 1 January 2005 when he was awarded the MBE. In 2015 the Hospital Broadcasting Association selected him as the winner of the John Whitney award.
Other major highlights from Radio Horton’s history include becoming a registered charity in 2009, commencing internet broadcasting in and becoming the Town Mayor’s Charity of the Year in 2014.
Over the years the station has gone from strength to strength and now operates from two purpose built studios on the ground floor of the Horton General Hospital. The Hanson and Wilton studios were officially renamed in 2016 by new president John Craven, of BBC Countryfile, and formerly Newsround fame.
See Part 2. Barnsley (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
9.1 Radio Barnsley (1958)
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: “Radio Barnsley, contact name J Fisher, separate sports service, serving 6 hospitals in Barnsley and Rotherham”.
The studio was located at the Tape Recorder Club’s premises.
In the early 1960s Radio Barnsley was being broadcast twice weekly to about 1,500 patients and staff in Becketts Hospital, St Helens Hospital, Wathwood Hospital, Kendray Hospital, Stanhope Hospital and possibly two other hospitals
In 1991 D Richardson, the Station Secretary of Radio Barnsley, wrote: ‘Radio Barnsley’ was started in 1958 at the YMCA Tape Recording Club. In 1974 we took over the football commentaries. Becketts hospital has now been demolished and Wath Wood and Stanhope hospitals no longer exist. Mount Vernon no longer receives the commentaries. St Helens hospital has been completely rebuilt and is called the Barnsley District General Hospital and is the only hospital receiving the service”.
In 1967 the service, after the Post Master-General lifted a ban imposed by the local GPO, carried out a three hour inter-town link up with 12 hospitals in Barnsley and Hull. A report at the time stated: “If the broadcast – music will be mixed with local news and comment from each town – is a success, the Barnsley amateurs plan similar link ups with Huddersfield, Doncaster and Leeds clubs later this year” .
By the mid 1970s the service was being relayed to six hospitals and was sharing the land line with the sports commentary service.
In June 1976, a local paper reported: “Barnsley’s hospital radio station is on the road to recovery after a long blackout. A who-pays-what problem has been cured and normal services are to be resumed. The prescription was worked out following the Post Office’s decision to pull out the plug on telephone land lines carrying Barnsley Radio programmes direct to local hospitals.
The problem was that the Bamsley Football Commentaries Committee decided that they should no longer pay the £436 per year bill for the line. They used the lines each week to send match reports to patients in five local hospitals. To help meet the bill, the committee received grants from hospital organisations. But now consultations have been held with Radio Bamsley, who previously were given free use of the lines. The station has agreed to foot the bill and should be back on the air with music and requests next week”.
In 1992 the service had 7 members and was broadcasting 21 hours per week to the Barnsley General Hospital.
“In 1995 the hospital started broadcasting from its own studios based in the hospital and Radio Barnsley developed into a Community Radio Station”.
9.2 Barnsley Hospital Broadcasting (1995)
Barnsley Hospital Broadcasting started broadcasting in 1995 to the Barnsley General Hospital.
The service was based at Beckett House in the grounds of the Barnsley General Hospital; “broadcasting music, requests, information and relaying a football commentary”.
In 2016 Barnsley Hospital Broadcasting was providing a service to the Barnsley Hospital from its studio at Beckett House..
10.1 Tarka Radio Ltd (1981)
Tarka Radio was founded in 1981 by a group of volunteers to provide a personalised radio service for the patients of the North Devon District Hospital.
- Barrow In Furness
11.1 Radio Lonsdale (1965)
The Barrow Soundtrack Club scrapbook of 1965 includes the following entries: “Monday, 13th December. Hospital Record Programmes. A successful meeting with the Hospital Management Committee officers and John & Ron Duxbury, Brian & Jane Rayner had taken place in October, and members decided to produce a special programme for patients in North Lonsdale Hospital just before Christmas, so this was planned. Monday, 20th December.
Our first hospital record programme was taped, Brian producing and John Hilton presenting. A Christmas theme, carols from 2 local schools, a children’s Xmas play taped by Leslie Richardson, and 2 club sketches were included, and relayed to North Lonsdale Hospital from Holker Street football ground on 22nd December by John, Ron and Keith. Later (date not known) a studio was established in an out-patients tea bar at the hospital”.
Soon after that the service moved to the North Lonsdale Hospital using makeshift equipment – space being shared with the canteen – until 1974 when, courtesy of the Barrow Soundtrack Club who provided news and other material, it became a registered charity, being now known formally as Radio Lonsdale.
A newspaper article dated 29th October, 1974, read: “Patients at North Lonsdale Hospital will be able to hear Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise sending them a special Christmas message over the hospital’s own radio station, Radio Lonsdale. Two of the people behind Radio Lonsdale, Ron Duxbury and Patsy Jackson, travelled to Blackpool on Saturday to see Morecambe and Wise at the Opera House. Before the show they were able to record the Christmas interview”.
In 1975 the service moved to a Portakabin at the Roose Hospital and expanded to include, in addition to the Roose Hospital and North Lonsdale Hospital, the Devonshire Road Hospital in Barrow and the High Carley Hospital, Ulverston (for the previous history of hospital broadcasting in Ulverston see Part 1.12).
A newspaper reported on 30th June, 1975: “Recorded messages of good luck to the future of Radio Lonsdale’s new studio which was opened yesterday came from Ken Dodd, Jake Thackeray, Morecambe and Wise, Charlie Williams, Ralph McTell, The Spinners and Mike Yarwood. The studio was opened officially by Mrs Joan Grainger, chairman of the Friends of Furness Hospitals who had given money for the studio equipment worth about £500. Mr Frank Danson, chairman of Radio Lonsdale, said the service began when the Barrow Soundtrack Club broadcasted programmes to North Lonsdale Hospital only. Last year it was decided to expand the service to three other hospitals in the area and a new organisation was formed separate from the Soundtrack Club”. To achieve this expansion it is thought that use was made of the landlines that were established by the rehabilitation committee which pioneered the broadcasting of sports commentaries to hospitals in Furness.
In 1992 Ron Duxbury, the Honorary President of Radio Lonsdale, wrote: “We later moved to a new studio within Roose (1975), and then to Furness General Hospital (FGH) at Barrow in 1989. Devonshire Road, North Lonsdale and High Carley closed when FGH opened and Roose is due to close shortly. We currently serve FGH only, we have 47 members and broadcast every evening, weekends and some afternoons. I am now the only remaining founder member, my wife Patsy has been involved for 20 years. Other members with close on 15 years involvement are Chris Clouter and Geoff Sproat”.
A steady increase in programs, including quality, saw Radio Lonsdale being voted, in 1991, the ‘Best Hospital Radio Station’ in Britain in a National competition.
Trials in 1995 lead to Radio Lonsdale, in 1996, becoming the first hospital radio station in the country to be awarded a full-time restricted service licence. This meant that it could broadcast to receivers in homes in the surrounding area including patient’s private FM (87.7) receivers.
“2015 saw the re-introduction of live football commentary from Holker Street for the first time in 20 years and, in May, the first live broadcasts from the Keswick to Barrow Walk. Later on the same day we celebrated the return of live concerts broadcast to our patients bedsides from the Forum Theatre”.
Karen Davies, the Station Manager of Radio Lonsdale reported in 2017: “Our number one studio was updated this year. It would also be lovely to mention Margaret Collins who was the stations longest serving secretary”. Margaret was a member during the 1970’s, 1980’s and left in 1996.
12.1 BHR 1287 (1974)
The charity report for Basildon Hospital Radio states: Miss C Lee, Basildon Hospital. Charity Reg. No. 268096. Date Registered: Sat Aug 03 1974.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Basildon Hospital Radio. Basildon Hospital. Contact; Ann Wray.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Basildon University Hospital.
13.1 Hospital Radio Basingstoke (1972)
HRB is the free radio service for the patients and staff at Basingstoke and North Hants Hospital. There has been a radio station at the hospital in Basingstoke since 1972 when Mini Radio entertained the patients and staff of the Basingstoke and District Mini Hospital.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Basingstoke & North Hampshire Hospital.
See Part 2. Batley (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
14.1 Heavy Wollen District Hospital Broadcasts (1956)
In Batley, up to 1955, hospital broadcasting was limited to sports commentaries. This prompted a small group of people, headed by Clifford Anderson and Dennis Etwell, to form a broadcasting sub-committee with the mandate of exploring the possibility of using the network to broadcast programmes of a more general nature than commentaries”.
As a result, on the first Sunday in January 1956, the first record request programme went out to the patients. It was also about this time that the present service got its name, “Heavy Woollen District Hospitals Broadcasts”.
An article written in 1966 by Luther Walker stated: “The initial difficulty was in obtaining the records to play and consequently a list of people known to have collections of records was compiled. From these people a weekly round trip was made to borrow the records, and take back the records previously borrowed. Appeals were made in the local press for people to give any records for ‘which they had no further use, with staggering results. The spare bedroom of the broadcasting secretary was soon being filled with the records collected. Another difficulty was that the Association had no studio, and this meant that the small group responsible for the programmes had to clamber up the steps of the commentary box at the Batley football ground in all kinds of weather, from where the record request programme was relayed to the patients. After almost two years of this, the Dewsbury football club placed a small room under their main stand at the disposal of the Association, and this, a disused coal cellar, was cleaned out and developed into a studio. Finances improved, and in 1960 a move was made to Station Road, Batley, where premises consisting of two rooms and toilet facilities were rented, decorated and adapted to the needs of a broadcasting centre”.
The article continued: “In the meantime the Record Request programmes had assumed such popularity that in addition to the Sunday evening programme it was necessary to continue the programme on a Monday evening. On average 60 requests were being received weekly (the total exceeding 30,000 since the request programmes began). With more people coming into the organisation, new avenues of broadcasting were explored. An ‘Outside Broadcast Section’ was formed and recordings were made of any local events of interest and played back on the network; a monthly religious service of half-an-hour’s duration was introduced and broadcast on the last Sunday of each month.
On Friday evenings the ‘Sports Page’ programme was broadcast. A programme, presented by Bill Ellis for over 20 years, which gave the patients a weekly round-up of all the local sport and which usually included a sporting personality. Broadcast once a month, on Wednesdays, were the Ladies’ programme, the Youth programme and ‘Spotlight’ programme. The latter being of the ‘Desert Island Discs’ format when someone of interest in the district was put into the hot seat, interviewed and asked to pick his or her favourite records from the library. In addition to all these activities, record programmes were started for the Indian and Pakistani patients in Whitley Grange Hospital periodically. They were presented on Saturday mornings and produced by a young Indian living in the district”.
By the end of the 1960s the lease on the premises in Station Road expired and the Association had to find a new home. Peter Walker, the Administrator of Staincliffe Hospital and a member of the Association, along with Charles Lockwood, the Association Appeals Organiser and member of the Community Health Council, successfully negotiated the use of two rooms in the attic of the Batley Hospital. Records during this period show: “Flirted briefly (and disastrously) with television between 1975-78, took delivery of custom built console in 1980, Programme sponsorship with advertising jingles in 1984“.
In 1988 the Batley Hospital closed and the Association moved again. A two room studio complex was built in the new Dewsbury and District General Hospital with over £15,000 being spent converting the rooms that had been provided and purchasing new equipment.
By this time the Association consisted of 35 active members and was broadcasting 40 hours per week. Programmes were being received at the Dewsbury District Hospital (a large new complex that includes the old Staincliffe and Maternity Hospitals), Woodwell House, Lydgate House, The Grange, Chickenly, Highfield House and Highfield Home For The Blind.
At this time the longest serving members were Jack Wisher and Stan Webb who both joined in 1963 in response to an advertisement in the local press. Throughout the period Jack presented a record request programme every month. Stan, in addition to his continuous involvement with the sports commentary service also presented record request programmes and carried out outside broadcasts. Stan’s wife also joined the service in 1963 and was to become the founder Secretary of NAHBO on 5th April, 1970.
See Part 3 Dewsbury.
15.1 Bath Hospital Broadcast Society (1964)
TOC H reported in March, 1964: “Bath Branch have started a Hospitals Broadcasts Service and the least of their troubles is money; when the need is there, the money comes”.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Studio located at 24a Bennett Street. Name of Service: Bath Hospital Broadcast Society. Contact: Miss D Mullins. Manager: John Fishlock. 20 members. Number of hospitals served: 9. Start date: May 1964.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Royal United Hospital and Royal National for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. “You can now listen to Bath Hospital Radio broadcasting 24 hours a day on this website and via Tune In”.
16.1 Radio Clatterbridge (1951)
On the 9 April 1951 a service called Radio Clatterbridge started at the Clatterbridge Hospital, Bebington, near Liverpool. John McNeilly, leader of the Port Sunlight Boys Club had the idea that patients in hospital would like to listen to music and songs brought to them in their wards. With the help of his Boy’s Club he took a windup gramophone and some records into a ward and explained to the patients what he was going to do. He played individual records for them and visited different wards each Sunday.
The idea was a success and by mid 1951 they were able to acquire from the hospital authorities a small room in Larch House where they were able to broadcast to the few wards in the hospital which were connected by landlines to their studio. An appeal for records in December 1953 read: “Every Sunday, members of the Port Sunlight Boys’ Club visit the wards of Clatterbridge Hospital taking requests from the patients for their favourite gramophone records. On the following Sunday, these are played over the wireless relay system in the hospital. The boy who takes the request becomes a “disc jockey” and introduces the record. When the idea first started several people loaned their collection, but the boys have now started their own library and are anxious to extend their selection. They would be grateful for gramophone records of any variety”.
Monty Lister started with the service in 1952 and controlled it until 1968 when he handed over to Roger Hazlewood. Roger was one of the early members of the Boys Club, then aged 13 (he was later on to become Honorary President of Radio Clatterbridge). In 1955, as part of the Port Sunlight Boy’s Club, Monty Lister started a service at the Cleaver Hospital in Heswall (described in Chapter 3).
An article in 1954 stated: “During the past three years they have played more than 6,700 records in the hospital and their good turn was the subject of a BBC broadcast feature recently”. The article added, “It was Monty Lister, of Editorial, a voluntary instructor at the club, who had the idea of developing the request programme. He suggested ‘Why not bring the familiar sounds of home and messages from relatives, friends and neighbours to the patients’ bedsides’. The proposal was accepted with enthusiasm by all the club members. Monty’s friend, Bill Wilding, of Bebington, had built a tape recording machine from used radio parts. He readily agreed to help. The boys interviewed patients in hospital, discreetly discovered all about the things they would like to hear on Christmas Day and Monty and Bill visited the homes of many of the people in the hospital”. The Christmas Day broadcast was a great success.
In 1993, Radio Clatterbridge moved to a temporary home near to St John’s Hospice. “The temporary move lasted for nearly a decade”.
Radio Clatterbridge finally made its permanent move into the old boiler house in April 2001. In 2003 New computer enabled the station to a round-the-clock service to the health park.
In 2011 the station was awarded a licence to broadcast on 1386 AM medium wave. “Radio Clatterbridge can now be heard on 1386 AM anywhere within Clatterbridge Health Park”. For the first time the service could be heard by patients at Claire House Children’s Hospice and the Elderholme Nursing Home.
17.1 Hospital Radio Bedford (1975)
“Hospital Radio Bedford started broadcasting on the 28 June 1975 from a twelve feet by ten feet room in the main hospital building next to the telephone exchange”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Hospital Radio Bedford. The Studio, South Wing Hospital. Contact: Tommy Trinder.
On the 11 January 1982 Hospital Radio Bedford (HRB) moved to new accommodation in the grounds of the hospital. This was a much larger, fully air-conditioned portacabin, providing enough space for a reception, record library, main and talks studio and a small production suite”.
In 1995 the service moved back into the main hospital building to allow for the construction of a new maternity and children’s wing. The facilities provided by the hospital giving HRB three large studios, a record library and reception area situated near the main entrance of the hospital.
In 2016 Hospital Radio Bedford was broadcasting to the Bedford General Hospital.
See Part 2. Birmingham (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
18.1 Birmingham Hospital Broadcasting Network (1953)
By 1953 the League of Friends of the Birmingham Sanatoria Hospitals Commentaries Association, which had started the previous year, started to broadcast plays and short stories.
The Association did not, however, have a proper studio and all programming was done through the cricket commentary position at Edgbaston. As more types of programmes were being undertaken the need for a studio became apparent. At that time George Lewis & Co, Wholesale Stationers, had their offices in Centre Rowand John Lewis allowed the group to use his office after work hours. When the office had closed for the day’s business the group moved in and tape recorded the requests collected from patients. This tape was then taken to the home of George Dainty, who had a large record collection. He would find the music requested, record it and edit it into the programme. When all the music was inserted the programme was taken to the cricket commentary position and played down the line to the hospitals. This process continued until about 1960.
In December, 1955, the Association reported that it had 25 hospitals listening to its programmes. This included hospitals in Dudley, Stourbridge, Walsall and West Bromwich who took requests, short stories and plays but had their own sports coverage at the weekends.
Also in 1955 a programme was started called “Personal Call”, a live telephone chat show where patients, and relatives at home, could phone in for a chat, pass messages and request a piece of music. In 1955, as stated in Chapter 2, the service was renamed ‘The Birmingham Hospitals Commentary Association’. On 21st October, 1956, the name was changed again, to become ‘The Birmingham Hospitals Broadcasting Association’. It was at about this time that the hospitals in Dudley, Stourbridge and Walsall decided to start their own service and were disconnected from the Birmingham service.
It was 1959 before the association was able to find the rooms for a proper studio, above the MEB showrooms in Dale End, in the city centre. The formal opening was attended by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. With the new studios the service began to expand and the programme output quickly rose from one hour a week, to 1.75 hours a night. In 1962, after spending a short period operating from a wooden hut in the car park at Edgbaston, the service moved to studios located at the cricket ground.
In 1970 it was felt that the name should be changed once again, to reflect more a network than an association. The service became ‘The Birmingham Hospital Broadcasting Network (BHBN)’. The service still had the same 25 hospitals, from Solihull14 miles out to the east of Birmingham, Good Hope in Sutton Coldfield, some 11 miles to the north east and with West Bromwich some 11 miles to the north west. In Birmingham, Dudley Road 4 miles to the west, Rubery Hill 14 miles to the south, and East Birmingham Hospital 9 miles away. With a modem studio programming increased to seven evenings and 45 hours a week and had a potential audience of over 7,000 patients, one of the largest services in existence. By 1972 the service’s running costs were £4,000 a year, by the mid to late 1980’s these had risen to £15,000, mainly on landline rentals. BHBN found it needed to increase its fund raising and over the years has put on concerts at the Town Hall, staged dog races, etc. More recently the Service has published a book of transcribed interviews, given during classical concert programmes (raising some £4,000 a year).
In 1986 the County Ground asked if it would be possible for the network to find new premises and in February, 1987, the Service launched an appeal for funds, raising £62,000 within 18 months. By the beginning of 1990 BHBN had moved into its second purpose built studio, in the Dudley Road Hospital, and had a number of outside broadcasting points permanently equipped at such places as Birmingham Town Hall (where it regularly takes the CBSO concerts, etc), Solihull Town Hall (for boxing commentaries as well as concerts), Birmingham FC and Aston Villa FC for football, and at the commentary box at Edgbaston where the cricket commentaries have continued since May 1952.
In 1990 the Birmingham Hospital Broadcasting Network was broadcasting from their studio at the Dudley Road Hospital.
18.2 Hospital Radio Rubery (Pre 1991)
In 1990 the Hospital Radio Rubery was broadcasting to the Rubery Hill Hospital.
18.3 Radio Highcroft (Pre 1991)
In 1990 the Radio Highcroft was broadcasting to the Highcroft Hospital.
19.1 Radio Catherine (1970)
NAHBOs 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio Catherine. St. Catherine Hospital. Contacts: Miss Anita Thomson & G Cooke (Manager). 12 members. 2 hospitals served.
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: North Wirral Hospital Radio (Radio Catherine). St. Catherine Hospital. Contact: Miss Helen Broom.
“Arrowe Sound Hospital Radio is no newcomer to broadcasting, in fact we have been providing entertainment and aiding patient recovery since 1970. Under our original name of Radio Catherine from our studios at the old St. Catherine’s Hospital on Church Road in Birkenhead we provided a then, restricted service to patients and staff across the site and also to The Birkenhead General Hospital on Park Road North”.
When Arrowe Park Hospital, Upton, was opened in 1982, Radio Catherine initially began broadcasting via a landline to the new site until a studio could be established in the new hospital.
See Upton for further information.
- Bishop Auckland
20.1 Auckland Hospital Radio (1963)
The idea to set up a service in Bishop Auckland came from Jim Wild. In 1963 he went along to St Helens Auckland Community Centre and gave a talk to a small group of people about hospital radio in general, but in particular of the beneficial effects such a service would have on the patients in local hospitals. The group were very impressed with Jim’s undoubted technical ability and enthusiasm, and decided to lend support to a limited service from his studio/workshop in Dale Street.
The first broadcast, in March 1963, consisting of old time dance music, was relayed from the Community Centre to the Tinsdale Crescent Hospital. As time passed there was talk of extending the service (which took place for two hours each Sunday) but hopes of actually doing so were dashed, due to a combination of financial, technical and administrative difficulties. The service became known as ‘Tinsdale Crescent HBS’.
It was not until ten years later, in 1973, that the question of expansion was reconsidered. A steering committee, consisting of the secretary Nellie Bowser, Jim Wild, Mary Hodgson, Ron Johnson and Helena Humphries was convened in November of that year and plans were made to expand the service.
In April 1974 the name was changed from ‘Tinsdale Crescent HBS’ to the ‘South-West Durham Hospital Broadcasting Service’. At this time a link was established with the Dryburn Hospital Broadcasting Service via a Post Office land line, the cost met by the League of Friends (a link that was discontinued in 1979).
The new service realised that an executive committee was required and this was formed from representatives of Bishop Auckland district organisations, such as the Inner Wheel Club, the RAFA Club, the Amateur Operatic Society, the Lions Club, the Hospitals League of Friends, the Rotary Club, the District Round Table, the General Hospital and other interested individuals.
The Dryburn Hospital Broadcasting Service informed the new committee that the Durham Area Health Authority was willing to pay for the rental of the trunk lines involved, and so from December 1974, the Bishop Auckland General Hospital (only four wards) and the Tinsdale Crescent Hospital were linked to Dryburn and Mr Wild’s local studio for a couple of hours every Sunday.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations lists: South West Durham HBS. Contact: Mr Wild. Hospital: Tinsdale. Sports Service: Yes. Number of members: 6.
The next four years were mainly given over to raising the funds required to equip a broadcasting studio. Premises also had to be found in which the new studio complex could be built. The hospital authorities came to the rescue, offering an ideal building (once a nurses home) within the grounds of the Bishop Auckland General Hospital. The new complex was officially opened on 14 October 1978 by Mrs. Todd, Chairman of the Durham Area Health Authority. Along with the new accommodation came a new name, ‘Auckland Radio’. At this time the service was broadcasting to both the Bishop Auckland General Hospital and Tinsdale Crescent Hospital every day of the week and throughout the day at weekends.
An undated article written by Steve Weltham stated: “Our main studio offers a full broadcasting and programme production facility and has attracted much praise from professional broadcasters. The centre piece is a nine channel control console (mixer) which was manufactured in kit form from Partridge Electronics. This is flanked by two professional, instant start, turntable decks of American manufacture. Where ‘tape inserts’ are concerned we are geared to both cassette and open reel operation by way of Technics and Teac machinery. We are a small, happy station, staffed by a team of genuinely dedicated people and one of the reasons for our success is that we broadcast what the patients want to hear in a friendly and relaxed manner”.
In June, 1984, David Robertson, the Honorary Secretary of the service, wrote to the Secretary of NAHBO: “I wish to confIrm that Mr James Wild of 7 Dale Street, has been a member of Hospital Radio since March, 1963. I also wish to confIrm that Mr Malcolm Parkinson has been a member for 16 years”.
In 1992 the service was broadcasting 20 hours per week to the Bishop Auckland General Hospital and the Tinsdale Crescent Hospital. The service had 17 members, including Jim Wild.
In 2000 the hospital trust demolished the building they were in and housed the service in temporary premises. During this time, ther broadcasts to Tindale Crescent Hospital ceased due to its closure, but the service gained a new hospital which had just been rebuilt. The Weardale Community Hospital, 20 miles away, opened its doors in March 2002 and Auckland Radio was there to provide programmes to the 20 bed long stay unit.
On 11 July 2002 Auckland Radio re-lauched and became known as Auckland Hospital Radio and started broadcasting to the brand new Bishop Auckland General Hospital via the Patientline system. With the advent of new technology and increased competition, the request show became the flag ship programme. For the first time in many years the station formed request show teams.
At a prestigious Hospital Radio Awards ceremony in 2003, Auckland Hospital Radio was voted UK Station of the Year 2003.
Technology also allowed any member of hospital staff to tune into the service via their computer. At the end of 2004, Auckland Hospital Radio forged a link with Bay Trust Radio (formerly Kendal Hospital Radio). Each weekend, the 2 services merged at specific times. The programmes continue to be transmitted live from each respective studio and are even branded locally.
On 8 July 2005 Auckland Hospital Radio began broadcasting live video pictures from the studios so for the first time patients could see the presenters on their patientline screens while the programmes were being transmitted. Responding to listener demand, Auckland Hospital Radio launched Auckland Gold on patientline channel 7. It offers speech, drama and special broadcasts 24 hours a day.
In 2007 Auckland Hospital Radio were granted money from the National Lottery to buy a new studio mixing desk. The old mixing desk had served the station for the past 5 years but was beginning to fail. A full studio refit took place with the help of Psquared and the station is now fully equipped for the challenges of the future.
“In 2008 we celebrated our 30th birthday with a bang. We held the biggest marathon broadcast ever and invited station founder Jim Wild to cut the 30th birthday cake in front of a large audience of supporters and volunteers. 2008 also saw the launch of a brand new jingles package”.
In 1955 a recorded football commentary service was started in Blackburn. The commentary was taped at Ewood Park, the home of Blackburn Rovers, and later in the week played back to the patients in Blackburn Royal Infirmary. It is thought that live commentaries commenced in about 1958/59. Alderman Whitehead was one of the early commentators.
In about 1960 Mr McNulty started a taped music service at the Royal Infirmary and from about 1962 a tape recorder club that operated from the home of Mr Lund, provided a similar service to the Queens Park Hospital. In 1964 Radio Hospitals Blackburn took over the responsibility of providing a music based hospital broadcast service to both of these hospitals.
See Part 2. Blackburn (1955) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
21.1 Radio Hospitals Blackburn (1964)
The first live hospital broadcast in Blackburn was to the Queens Park Hospital in 1964.
A local newspaper reported in 1966: “Chairman Mr Wilfred Crabtree, a member since the station (Radio Blackburn) was created from a tape recording club at the home of Mr W Lund about 20 months ago, forecast that the Blackburn organisation would be equal to Preston’s when they moved into the new YMCA building”.
By the end of 1964 the service was also broadcasting to the Royal Infirmary.
Keith Ward, Chairman of Radio Hospitals Blackburn, wrote in 1992: “The organisation took over the service at the Blackburn Royal Infirmary around 1964 when Mr McNulty could no longer continue”. The newspaper report of 1966 added “Radio Blackburn was broadcasting four nights a week, and at weekends, to some 2,000 patients at the Blackburn Infirmary, Queen’s Park, Park Lee and Withnell hospitals”.
Edgar Farnworth, the then Secretary, stated: “Our main job is to play requests for hospital patients and we have between 200 to 240 requests for records each week”.
In the mid 1960s the Services started to record church services, replaying them to the patients each Sunday morning. Radio Blackburn was also branching out into the field of live broadcasts with promenade concerts. In addition to Edgar Farnworth and Wilfred Crabtree, the early members included Eddie Ellis, Valerie Yates, Dorothy Hunter and Jack Hunter.
Mr Lund’s garden shed was home to Radio Blackburn until more suitable premises were found, first in the old YMCA building, and later at the new YMCA building in Clarence Street which was opened by the Duchess of Kent on May 21st, 1967. It was at about this time, possibly prior to the move to the new YMCA building, that the service took over responsibility for providing a service to the Accrington Victoria Hospital from the local TOC H organisation.
In 1970 the name of the service was changed to become “Radio Hospitals Blackburn”.
In 1974 a link was established with the ‘South-West Durham Hospital Broadcasting Service’ (later known as Auckland Hospital Radio) in Bishop Auckland. In 1979 this link was discontinued.
The YMCA building was home to the Service for 15 years and in that time some memorable broadcasts took place. In 1979 the Chairman, Rod Hardisty, successfully completed a 100 hour broadcasting marathon, entitling him to a mention in the Guiness Book of Records – only to have his record broken a few months later.
An undated letter, circa 1980, written by Stephen Musgrove, the Chairman of Radio Hospitals Blackburn to NAHBO read: “The names listed below qualify for the 15 years long service award: M Tracey, J Heffernan, Edgar Farnworth, A Ellis, M Evans, J Hunter, B Illsley, J Hargreaves and J Hodgson”.
On the 4 May 1982 the service had to vacate their studio complex in the YMCA building. On the following day the service restarted broadcasting from its new studio in the Park Lee Hospital. Keith Ward, Chairman of Radio Hospital Blackburn, wrote in 1992: “Once the studios at Park Lee were completed it was decided, as a mark of respect, to name them “The Ellis Studios”, after founder member Eddie Ellis and a plaque commemorating the work of the early pioneers was unveiled by his daughter”. Keith added: “Since moving to Park Lee Hospital we have played over 100,000 records, turned the microphone on over 120,000 times and the outside edges of the turntables have travelled some 4,000 miles whilst revolving over 6 million times”.
In 1993 the service had 32 members and was broadcasting 22 hours per week to the Royal Infirmary, Queen’s Park Hospital and the Victoria Hospital in Accrington.
Radio Hospitals Blackburn’s studio remained at the Park Lee Hospital until the hospital closed in 1998.
“After a gap of a few months we moved to our present studios within the grounds of The Royal Blackburn Hospital (formerly known as Queens Park Hospital). The room that now houses our two studios, office space and record library (Yes we still have 12″ albums and 7″ singles) was converted from a bathroom / toilet. As the health authorities evolved over the years the list of hospitals were reduced. In 2006, when the Blackburn Royal Infirmary closed we were reduced to one hospital”.
On 17 September 2014 the service launched its service on the internet.
21.2 Brockhall Tower Radio (1983)
Brockhall Tower Radio started broadcasting at Brockhall Hospital in 1983.
Most of the organisation was carried out by Maureen Walker, the then Voluntary Services Officer at Brockhall Hospital.
The service ceased when the hospital closed in 1993.
See Part 2. Blackpool (1953) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
22.1 Blackpool Hospital Radio (1967)
In 1953, following an appeal by the Inter Church Appeal Committee, radio points were installed in all the wards at the Victoria Hospital in Blackpool. This gave the patients a choice of three BBC radio programmes. A fourth channel was available, used solely by members of the Blackpool FC Supporters Club who provided commentaries on all home games.
In 1967 an independent group, with financial help from The League of Friends, built a studio in the Victoria Hospital and commenced broadcasting, using land lines provided by the Blackpool Supporters Club, on Saturday 5 August 1967. The following hospitals received the service: Devonshire Road, South Shore, Princess Alexandra Home for the Blind and Lytham.
Bernie Dunn of Blackpool Hospitals’ Radio wrote in 1990: “The service was officially opened by Ken Dodd. The original studios were within Victoria Hospital itself, from where programmes are relayed to this date. The landlines were purely used to carry the programmes to the other hospitals. The only original member still involved with the service is myself. The leader of the organising group at the time was David Gregson, whose idea it was to start a music based service. As far as I can remember the programmes were originally restricted to Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights only”.
Following a short closure in 1969, due to a breakdown in liaison and organisation, a small and independent Executive Committee was formed. It provided the necessary liaison between the studio and its members and the Health Authority to which it was directly responsible. The new committee proved very successful and the service steadily expanded.
In 1974 the original studio was updated with a new console and steadily over the years much of the equipment was replaced. The day to day operational expenses of the service being met by a monthly allowance from the Hospital Endowment Fund. Funds for new or replacement equipment, which cannot be met out of this monthly allowance, being provided by the League of Friends.
By the mid-1980’s, with membership constant at about 40, programmes were being relayed to three hospitals and a home for the blind. In January 1985, four members of the service qualified for NAHBO’s 15 year long service awards. They were: Arthur Williams, John Hesketh, Bernard Dunn and James Murgatroyd.
Bernie Dunn added: “In 1974, when the main studio had been refurbished, an official opening was carried out by Violet Carson, who was a very good friend to Radio Victoria, being a long term resident in Blackpool. The service was called “Radio Victoria” from its inception. The official title of Blackpool Hospitals’ Broadcasting Service was shortened in the early 1980’s to Blackpool Hospitals’ Radio. We now (1990) broadcast every night of the week, plus some programmes at the weekends, a total of about 24 hours a week”.
In July 2014 Radio Victoria was broadcasting to the Victoria Hospital and announced that “Ofcom have awarded Radio Victoria CIS a community radio license”.
On 12 May 2015 The Star Newspaper reported: “Health bosses are appealing for volunteers to help out at its re-launched hospital radio station”. Derek Quinn, head of communications at the Trust, said: “We are looking to relaunch our hospital radio station and are looking for volunteers to help provide the best possible service for our patients and visitors. We would love to hear from anyone looking for a new challenge, or anyone who has previously been involved with hospital radio. There are opportunities to become a presenter on the station or simply help out behind the scenes”.
23.1 Bolton Lions Hospital Radio (1977)
In 1977 Bolton Lions were asked if they would give two radio broadcasts a week for the patients of the Bolton Royal Infirmary and Townleys hospital. At this time broadcasts were given on Thursday evenings and on Sunday Mornings.
Since 1977 many changes have taken place with the Bolton Royal Infirmary long having closed, and we now broadcast at one site now called The Royal Bolton Hospital. The initial two radio broadcasts have been expanded to six daily broadcasts of three hours each, we even broadcast on Christmas Day!
When not broadcasting live, a computer generated programme then broadcasts music for the remainder of the day, every day, using the vast library of music accumulated over 22 years, which currently stands at over 20,000 pieces of music.
Every Friday, members go round the wards collecting music requests from patients, and these are broadcast later that evening and again on Sunday morning for the patients, catering for all types of music”.
“On the 9th September 2014 a ceremony took place renaming Bolton Lions Hospital Radio Studio to the Jim Wells Suite in memory of Jim who sadly passed away in January 2014. He had been a member of Bolton Lions for nearly 30 years and his great love and involvement was with Hospital Radio in which participated for 25 years, managing it for most of those years”.
http://www.boltonlions.org.uk/ – Select “Club Projects” for information on the history of the hospital broadcasting service.
24.1 Pilgrim Hospital Radio (1974)
Pilgrim Hospital Radio was started in 1974 by Mel Kennedy and his brother Martin together with their associate Mike Carson at the Pilgrim Hospital.
“In those early days they broadcast from a space, which was little bigger than a broom cupboard, on the ground floor of the relatively new hospital. The hospital authorities must have appreciated the valuable contribution to patient welfare provided by PHR because they later offered larger accommodation on the hospital’s first floor”.
In 1988 the service moved into a purpose built suite on the ground floor comprising of 2 studios, a library and an office, which could be used as a third studio if necessary. This new complex was officially opened by the then Mayor of Boston, Councillor Geoff Moulder.
“The first 40 years have been happy and successful, and with the group of volunteers we have there is no reason why the next 40 years cannot be even better. Our recent upgrade to stereo output, the new Hospedia Entertainment System and the forthcoming introduction of a new web site should provide for many fresh opportunities for the future”.
See Part 2. Bournmouth (1957) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
25.1 Radio Boscombe – Hospital Radio Bedside (1971)
In 1971 a voluntary service was founded at The Royal Victoria Hospital that began broadcasting one request programme a week. The station was called Radio Boscombe.
Radio Boscombe soon extended its 30-minute programme to one hour a week, due to a large response from the patients. The programme was taped onto cassettes and, when the tape was completed, it was plugged into the hospital radio system and played back..
In 1972 two members of the Boscombe service linked up with 4 volunteers to form a LIVE service which was broadcast from Poole Hospital. “This team used money supplied by Poole League of Friends to set up this service, and live request shows started from an engineer’s store room in the basement of the hospital. The “studio” was surrounded by old fridges and engineering paraphernalia”.
Radio Boscombe continued to have a recorded service, and for a time, used the Poole facilities to record their service.
The success of Radio Poole led to negotiations with Radio Boscombe about joining forces and, in 1973, the Bournemouth and East Dorset Hospital Broadcasting Association (BEDHBA) was formed. Both stations transmitted individually at their respective site.
In January 1976, BEDHBA began broadcasting from an attic room at Westbourne Eye Hospital to Poole General, Royal Victoria Boscombe, Christchurch, Royal National and Poole Maternity and later Wimborne and Westbourne itself 1976 also saw the first mention of Radio Bedside
“By 1986, we had outgrown the attic room and, with the help of an interest-free loan of £60,000 from the East Dorset Health Authority, decided to have new studios built at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. The move to RBH took place in 1990 and the association raised funds to pay back the loan, which was achieved thanks to the generosity of many organisations”.
In 1994 the service carried out its first 28-day broadcast on the FM frequency. HRB FM was a resounding success and was repeated again in 1995 and 1997.
“As the end of the decade approached, the studio equipment was starting to show its age as it was nearly 20 years old. So we set out on a fund raising mission again and struck lucky with money from the Lottery Fund and a local Trust. This enabled us to completely overhaul both on-air studios, with new computes, CD Players and mixing desks.
With new studio broadcasting equipment we are now able to stream our output online to allow those outside our hospitals to listen to the requests playing for their friends and loved ones”.
See Part 2. Bradford (1954) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
Two music based services started in Bradford during the 1950s.
26.1 Radio Royal Bradford (1952)
In 1992, during Radio Royal’s 40th anniversary celebrations, an early member, Eileen Beumount recalled: “The service was started by five hospital technicians in 1952, broadcasting one day per week, on Wednesdays”.
A letter written to the National Association of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations by Jackie Burke, Radio Royal’s Publicity Officer, in March 1984 read: “I notice from a recent PRO report that you are seeking HBO members with 15 to 25 years service. Might I therefore suggest an ideal candidate in our Chairman, Mr Albert Herberts. Albert has been involved with Radio Royal since its infant days, when we were known as The Medicine Chest. In all, he has some 20 years involvement with our station”.
Ernest Spacey, the Chairman of Radio Royal, wrote in 1990: “I have only been connected with Radio Royal for four years and the origins are lost in the mists of time. It seems that in the early days both Radio Royal & Radio 573 took requests one day, went to the local record shop to borrow them the next day, played them and then took them back to the shop to be put back on the shelves to be sold”. Two of the early members were identified as Albert Herberts and Eileen Beaumont.
In 1992 the service had about 36 members and was broadcasting 30 hours per week to the Bradford Royal Infirmary.
26.2 St Luke’s Sound (1955)
The second music based service in Bradford was started at St Luke’s Hospital on 16 March, 1955, by a group consisting mainly of hospital staff.
A ‘Patients Record Request Broadcasting Team Memorandum’ dated Wednesday, 9 March, 1955, from Mr R B Speight read: “Subject: Preparatory Work For The First Broadcast Request Programme. At a sub-committee meeting of the Joint Consultative Council held at 5.15pm on Tuesday, 4th March the following arrangements were agreed upon”. Included in the memorandum were such details as: “The first programme of patients request records is scheduled for Wednesday, 16th March in place of the BBC Light Programme from 7.30pm until 8.30pm. The title of the programme will be ‘TONIC TUNES’ and the signature tune for closing the programme each evening will be ‘Get Well Soon’ or the reverse side”.
Records played on the first ‘Tonic Tunes’ programme included “Bless this House”, “Happy Days and Lonely Nights”, and “The Student Prince”. The station was also called “Tonic Tunes” and continued broadcasting every Wednesday evening until 1979. “Tonic Tunes” No. 459, disc jockey – Reg Varney, “Broadcasting in place of the BBC Home Service on Wednesday February 19th at 6.00pm to 7. 15pm” (year not recorded), included such requests as Russ Conway’s “Side Saddle”, “Needles and Pins” and once again “Bless This House”.
Joan Stocks, a member for over 27 years, recalls: “Reg Varney was appearing at the Alhambra in “Rag Trade” and we went on the Tuesday to interview him. He did announce the records on programme 459″.
Joan Stocks added: “At sometime the programmes was extended to 1.5 hrs. I joined in June 1961, by which time all the founder members, except Eddie Bruce and Teddy Barker had drifted away. Unfortunately Eddie died shortly after that and for the next 18 years the programmes were put on by girls varying in number from 6 down to one – mostly no more than two at anyone time. We ran the station on a shoe string with a microphone, record player & a very old tape recorder. We had to borrow records from a local music shop. To vary the format sometimes we would take the tape recorder to the Alhambra Theatre, especially at Pantomine time, and the stars would announce the requests for us”
Towards the end of 1978 the service asked for more volunteers and on 14th February, 1979, with 25 members, the service became Radio 573. Very soon the service was broadcasting a wide variety of programmes seven days per week, including “Asianwide” and “Subhe Shard”.
In 1992 the service had 15 members and was broadcasting 22 hours per week to St Luke’s Hospital.
26.3 Sovereign Radio (Pre 1991)
In 1990 a services called Sovereign Radio was broadcasting to the Lynfield Mount Hospital in Bradford.
A report dated 20 Dec 2002 read: “Sovereign Radio, the Hospital radio station serving Lynfield Mount Psychiatric hospital in Bradford is re-launching its service on 1st Feb 2003 after 2 years of being off the air. Can you spare time to fundraise, publicise and develop Sovereign radio for 2003 ? Sovereign radio is set to develop its dream of 24 hour broadcasting but to achieve this we need around 20 willing volunteers to present, raise funds, visit wards and forge links within our local community. If you can spare 2-4 hours per week then e-mail us with your details and we’ll get back to you right away.
A status Information link dated 5 July 2003 reads: “This Organisation is defunct”.
27.1 Warley Hospital Radio Service (Pre 1974)
NAHBOs 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Harold Wood Radio (incorporating Warley Hospital Radio Service). See London. Havering. Harold Wood Radio.
28.1 Brighton’s Coastway Hospital Radio (1986)
Brighton’s Coastway Hospital Radio service started broadcasting in 1986 to the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Sussex Eye Hospital.
In 2016 the service reported: “Coastway Hosital Radio for Brighton broadcasts twenty four hours a day to 1500 patients in the Royal Sussex Hospital and to listeners online”.
See Part 2. Bristol (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
29.1 Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service (1956)
In July 1954, the GPO put up the rent on landlines that connected Bristol City and Bristol Rovers football clubs to Redifussion and 12 hospitals. The increase, to four hundred pounds a year, posed a serious challenge to the TOC H members of the Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Society who ran the football commentary service.
After some deliberation they decided to make more use of the landlines by starting a recorded programme called ‘Autograph Album’. Lauri Lucena commented: “It started from a big hole! A very large hole was being dug in the centre of Bristol and people in hospital asked about it. For the first programme one of the diggers was interviewed. We thought that a chap talking about a hole might not interest the ladies so we bunged in a chap who measured the Fattest Lady in the World for her corsets etc. Brian Powell interviewed them, made them sing or tell a story, and I stuck the Patient’s Autograph Album under their noses”.
With ‘Autograph Album’ launched safely, and with a newly acquired Grundig Recorder in the back of a car the service issued a challenge to the patients -“Who do you want on your programme? If you come to Bristol, or within a thirty mile radius we’ll record an interview or turn for you”. This new programme, called ‘Let’s Go Roaming’ proved very successful. Each night’s programme finished: “Well, that empties the bag for this week, so, until you hear our signature tune next Friday inviting you to ‘Let’s Go Roaming’ this is Brian Powell and Lauri Lucena, on behalf of TOC H Hospital Broadcasts, wishing you goodnight, good luck and get well soon”.
During this period, as the word spread that the football matches were being relayed to the local hospitals, people started to approach the commentators and ask them to say ‘hello’ to a relative or friend in hospital. By 1956 the match intervals were choc-a-bloc with dedications and it seemed to Lauri Lucena a natural progression to start a record request programme.
One of the original record request shows was Brian Powell’s ‘Meet Me On The Corner’, which ran from 1956 until 1986. Another long running programme was Lauri’s own programme ‘Lucky with Lauri’, which ran from 1956 until 1975. Gradually the number of record programmes increased, as did the number of hospitals receiving the service.
In May 1956, TOC H reported: “Bristol Broadcast’s Society has enabled over 10,000 patients in local hospitals to hear a complete commentary of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Bristol, when Her Majesty opened the new Bristol Council House, and later the new reservoir at Chew Stoke. In addition to the complete commentary from the time of arrival; patients enjoyed the unique privilege of listening to the only live broadcast of the Queen’s speech from the Council House. This was made possible by the co-operation of the Western Region of the BBC and the Municipal Authorities”.
The increase in the number of hospitals receiving the service was noted in an article written by TOC H in June 1956: “The Bristol Hospitals Broadcasting Society in a recent programme to seventeen Bristol Hospitals received a request for a record for a little boy of eight who had spent five years in an Orthopaedic Hospital”.
A report in October 1957, read: “TOC H Bristol Hospitals Broadcasts Society has linked up to Winsley Chest Hospital, approximately twenty miles distant from Bristol, and hope to link up other hospitals in the Bath district”
“BHBS expanded in the 1960s to a total of 25 hospitals”. At one point a prison hospital was receiving the service – the only known case of a hospital service being provided to a prison.
In 1967, over fifteen years after its inception Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Society (BHBS) as it was then called, moved into its very first purpose built studio. After years of recording programmes in members houses BHBS at last had a home of its own, located in an office block with restricted entry, it never-the-Iess seemed like a palace. Less than five years later, however, the service was informed that the rooms would be required and alternative accommodation was required. The United Bristol Hospitals, the fore runner of the Bristol and Western Hospital Authority, came to the rescue and provided BHBS with a studio suite (which was still in use in 1991).
At 6pm on 23 November 1972 the last programme was relayed from the Victoria Street studio. The new complex, in the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), was opened on 12 January 1974 by the then Lord Mayor of Bristol, Alderman W W Jenkins.
Over the following years, under the Chairmanship of Lauri Lucena (1952-1975), the number of hospitals receiving the service grew with, according to NAHBOs 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations, 28 hospitals receiving the service in that year. It was also in 1974 that the name was changed to the Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service (BHBS) when a new constitution was adopted.
In 1975, Lauri Lucena was forced to resign as chairman of the service due to ill health. Wally Jenkins stepped into the position and occupied the chair until 1985 when Ian Elliott was elected. Ian joined the service in 1965 and had been the station engineer since 1970.
In 1991 Ian reported: “Our present studios consist of two control rooms and two studios backed up by an engineering room. We present 33 hours of programmes a week to 15 hospitals in and around the city of Bristol. Our programmes are now mainly record request programmes from our studio in the BRI supplemented by sports commentaries from Bristol Rovers at Twerton Park, Bristol City from Ashton Gate, Bristol Rugby from the Memorial Ground and cricket from the County Ground (see also Chapter 2).
Musical entertainment is covered with classical concerts from the Colston Hall every week and occasional programmes from the Hippodrome. The main costs of running the service are to Telecom for landlines. All of our commentary points, studios and hospitals are linked by Telecom landlines. The charges for these come to about £8,000 each year. This year Harveys of Bristol have sponsored our landline to the Colston Hall as an extension of their policy of supporting the arts”.
In the early 1990s the service was told they would have to move but the hospital authorities assured the service they would provide a suitable site and build them “a new studio to our designs”. “The bad news was that they wanted the whole move from suggestion to completion done in no more than three months!”
“The designs for our new studio, which was to be based on level five of the old BRI building, were sketched out in March 1994 and we moved in on May 23rd 1994, less than eight weeks later!!! The speed of the move was such that we did not have time to build any of our new equipment. The studio was officially opened by Roy Hudd on October 23rd 1994”
“The Special Trustees of United Bristol Hospitals provided the funds to build the studio and provided one of the new mixing desks, but we had to raise the money for all of the ancillary items such as chairs, cables, curtains and many of the more mundane items needed to make a studio work, as well as a second new mixing desk”.
“A sign of the times was the cost of replacing the studio desks. In 1970 we built the desk (which gave us excellent service for 24 years) for £400. Twenty five years later we paid almost £6,000 for a replacement! Surprisingly the turntables which were bought for use in the Victoria Street studio back in 1967 are still going strong – 34 years later even though they were now much older than many of our members”
The service reported in 2016: “Our programmes are mainly record request programmes broadcast from our studio in the BRI. Our sports commentaries come live from Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium, Bristol City from Ashton Gate and Bristol Rugby from The Memorial Stadium. Each sports ground is fully equipped with a mixer and two microphones. Live musical entertainment consists of weekly classical concerts from the Colston Hall We supplement this with recordings from St George’s Brandon Hill. Every Sunday morning we broadcast a service from the BRI chapel”.
“BHBS is proud to have regularly won the British Telecom regional prize as the best Hospital Broadcasting Service. The competition, judged on a 15 minute compilation tape of all of our programme output, carries a prize of £500. We have won the award in 1993, 1995 and 1996. We didn’t enter in 1994 as we were in the throes of moving studios and in 1999 we were a runner up in the “best non-music” category with our local news service”.
Chris Wood, Programme Controller for BHBS – Hospital Radio for Bristol, reported in 2017. “On 29 September 2016, following the sale of the BRI Old Building, we started broadcasting from our new purpose built studios on level 10 of the BRI Queen’s Building. We have two control rooms, a studio, an equipment room and a green room which also houses our vast record library”,
Iain Elliot was a member of the service for 47 years, 42 years as chief engineer and 27 years (1985-2012) as chairman.
See Part 2. Burnley (1951) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
30.1 Hospital Radio Burnley (1957)
“From 1957 we broadcast at the now defunct Victoria Hospital; we then moved to the old Chapel at Burnley General Hospital until moving to new premises adjacent to the old Concert Hall”.
“Those studios were completely refurbished in the late eighties and in 1992 culminated in the official opening by the then Mayor and Mayoress of Burnley, Councillor and Mrs. Edward C.Ingham in October of the same year”.
At one stage, it was listened to by patients in the Victoria, the General, and the Marsden, in Burnley, Reedyford, at Nelson, and Hartley Hospital, in Colne.
Regular features included coverage of Burnley home and away games, a daily religious programme, and amateur operatic shows from the stage of the former Palace Theatre, in St James’s Street, Burnley.
On 12 Feb 2013 the Lancashire Telegraph newspaper reported:
“The airwaves of Burnley Hospital Radio have fallen silent for the last time after 60 years of broadcasting to thousands of patients.
Volunteers decided to pull the plug themselves as there were not enough patients at the hospital, but have moved equipment to the Royal Blackburn Hospital. Hazel Harding, Trust chairman, said: “The volunteers themselves decided to cease broadcasting due to the change in patient mix at the Burnley General Hospital site.
However, they have agreed with the hospital radio at Blackburn that they will continue to broadcast Burnley Football Club home matches, so patients can still listen to the game, and this broadcast also goes to a number of blind supporters who attend the game”.
- Burton On Trent
31.1 Phoenix Hospital Radio (1990)
Phoenix Hospital Radio has been providing a broadcasting service dedicated to the Queen’s Hospital in Burton since first going “on air” in September 1990.
32.1 Birch Radio (1978)
“In the early Sixties, a group of men from the Round Table set up a system of playing requests for patients in Birch Hill Hospital. However due to waning interest the service ground to a halt by the end of the decade. It was not until around ten years later, that a pair of male nurses resurrected the service, and Birch Radio was reborn on the 16th December 1978”.
“The first studio was a very Heath Robinson affair, and very small. The controls left a lot to be desired, to stop and start the record decks each was switched on or off at the mains socket. The microphone had its own switch on it, and the volume sliders were fixed to a home-made mixer on the table. Long, flexible arms were essential. Electrics were also a problem, because boiling the kettle meant going off air, or else the fuses blew”
In February 1994 the service was extended to the Infirmary. This was then followed by the broadcasting of football commentaries from Scotland which commenced in November 1994.
“A re-launch of the service took place in February 1998, with new programme formats, and music content. Unfortunately, our bid for a permanent licence to broadcast across Rochdale failed in September 1998”.
“A grant from the National Lottery Charities Board was received in April 1999 to purchase further computer hardware and the Myriad automation software. This allowed 24 hour broadcasting to commence during Autumn 1999. As a consequence of the digital playout facilities, Birch Radio has now disposed of a the vinyl in the record library, leaving only compact discs and minidiscs as well as the music stored on the computers”.
“In 2001, finance became available to extend our service to Springhill Hospice, allowing patients there to hear not only our 24-hour a day programming, but also the football commentaries from Rochdale AFC. Coverage from away games started to become more common during the 2001/2 season”.
“In 2004 the service became available through the Patientline system that was been installed at Rochdale Infirmary. Over the next 18 months it became clear that Birch Radio would have to relocate by Spring 2007 so meetings were held with the hospital Trust administrators and members of hospital radio stations within the Trust. A suitable site was identified at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, where the Bury Lions broadcast at weekends”.
An amalgamation of the two organisations followed which was joined by HFM, the local community radio group from Heywood.
Studio construction began in October 2006 and Birch Radio broadcast its last show from the old studios in Birch Hill Hospital on 22nd January 2007. Broadcasting commenced in April 2007 to Fairfield General Hospital, followed by Rochdale Infirmary and Springhill Hospice in 2008.
In 2016 Roch Valley Radio, the working name for Birch Radio, was broadcasting to 3 hospitals.
- Bury St Edmonds
33.1 Radio West Suffolk (1974)
A service started by the St Edmundsbury Lions Club and originally called Lions Radio began broadcasting to the West Suffolk Hospital in 1974.
“From inception until the mid-1980s it was compulsory to be a member of the Lions Club or Leos before being able to work on the radio station. This idea was eventually abandoned and it became possible for anyone interested to join. The Lions Club retained overall control of the station until 1991 when it was decided that in the interests of both the radio station and the Lions Club, ownership and control of the station should be handed over to the team of presenters who had already been running it for some time”.
“The station had been operating for too long, from a tiny room in what was then the Amenities block. A new purpose built studio complex within the Drummond Centre was commissioned with new equipment, and in June 1992, the then Station Manager, Peter Owen, went on air as the very first Presenter of the brand new hospital radio station, Radio West Suffolk”.
In June 2000 Radio West Suffolk began broadcasting on 1350AM. In April 2002 the station moved to even bigger studios in the main hospital “Friends Room”.
In December 2007 the service started live streaming on the internet via the its website.
On 26 July 2011 Radio West Suffolk was removed from the list of registered charities.Its assets were transferred to Radio West Suffolk Ltd.
Note: RWSfm 103.3 is the community radio station for Bury St Edmonds and the surrounding areas offering music and local information. The station was awarded a community radio licence by Ofcom in 2010 and began broadcasting on 13 August 2010.
34.1 D R H Radio & Television Service (1963)
The service at Buxton’s Devonshire Royal Hospital was started in November 1963 by Jim Dingle, Head Porter at the hospital. Until his retirement in the late 1970s he ran the service by using young members of the hospital staff as presenters and helpers. The early programmes were assembled on tape in a small basement studio on one evening, and played back into the hospital radio system the next evening.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations read: D R H Radio & Television Service. Contact: Judy Burgess. Serving Devonshire Royal Hospital. OB Service. 14 members. Radio service started in November 1963.
The station’s Chairman, Michael Bryant, wrote in 1992: “There are few long serving members. One of the early young presenters who is still active is our Treasurer, Peter Moules, who works at the hospital as Personnel Officer. I have worked at the hospital since April 1972 and I have been Chairman of the service for some 13 years”. Michael added: “Jim Dingle, the Station’s founder, is now Honorary President of DRH Radio & TV”.
The radio output has always been music and the service’s success has been based on playing record requests. For a while sports commentaries, from a network in Manchester, were relayed to the patients. In the early eighties two school boys, Peter Willis and Jonathan Brown, worked up a ‘Spotlight’ programme on Saturday afternoons. By providing printed schedules, quizzes and a variety of interviews, news and music, they managed to compete for the hospital audience with television sports coverage.
In 1992 the service had a membership of about 30 active broadcasters and fund raisers, of which about one third were involved with TV shows. About 20 hours of radio broadcasts were being presented each week to the Devonshire Royal Hospital.
This service was not broadcasting in 2016.
See Part 4. History of Hospital TV Services in UK. Buxton.
See Part 2. Cambridge (1954) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
35.1 Radio Addenbrookes (1956)
The first hospital programme production in Cambridge was started in 1954 by the charity TOC H. Football commentaries recorded at local games were broadcast to the patients at Old Addenbrookes hospital in Trumpington Street. It was at this point that the name Radio Addenbrooke´s was first used.
In July 1956 Don Hale, who had started the commentary service, decided there should be something for women patients and started a record request programme.
The early request shows had to be tape recorded in a local record shop, Millers Music Centre in Sidney Street, Cambridge and then replayed on the wards at the old Trumpington Street Hospital.
In 1962 the first new Addenbrooke´s hospital building on Hills Road opened to patients and shortly afterwards Radio Addenbrooke’s sports and music services were extended there. A basic ´studio´ was established “The turntables and equipment were squeezed into the basement walkway”.
A decade later, in 1972, when the hospital was extended, a new studio was built from the funds provided by TOC H and the people of Cambridge and Saffron Walden.
TOC H reported in December, 1973: “Cambridge branch has raised £417 towards the cost of a sound proof studio for the hospital broadcast service in the city’s rebuilt Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The result exceeds the target originally set by over £100. ‘We must acknowledge’, writes branch chairman Philip Hunt, ,our gratitude and thanks to Saffron Walden branch, which came magnificently to our aid with a sum of £117.’ The hospital broadcasting service was initiated by Cambridge branch 19 years ago. The service includes commentaries on local football matches and a record request programme which recently included its 35,000th request.
A local newspaper reported in April, 1986: “It is now exactly 30 years since the first record requests were broadcast especially for patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. Today, the programme is stronger than ever but is sending out a request of its own – for old records. Mr Michael Brown, of the hospital’s voluntary services office says the radio station, known as Radio Addenbrooke’s has 13,000 titles, but this is a long, long way from comprehensive. For example, the station hardly ever has any records from the current top twenty. The service operates on a shoestring – TOC H has a small fund which it may draw on up to £100 a year. The rest is down to donations and voluntary work”.
The newspaper report added: “The man most closely involved with the programmes for more than 20 years was Don Hale, of the University Engineering Department which gave him much support with the project. He was awarded the BEM for his work with the service. When he died in 1980, his work was carried on by his colleagues at work. Mike Brown taking over much of the record request programmes”.
In 1992 Newmarket General Hospital was downgraded, and members of its Radio Station – the Newmarket Lions Club Hospital Radio – joined the Radio Addenbrooke´s team.
In 2004 Radio Addenbrooke ´s was named Hospital Radio Station of the Year by the Hospital Broadcasting Association and in 2009 was awarded top prize at the National Hospital Radio Awards for their documentary about the Clown Doctors, who entertain patients on the children’s wards at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Rosie Maternity Hospital.
35.2 Radio Chesterton (Pre 1978)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory Of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations records: “Radio Chesterton. John Turner, YMCA, Jonville Place, Cambridge”.
36.1 Canterbury Hospital Radio (1972)
Canterbury Hospital Radio, a subsidiary of The League of Friends of the Kent & Canterbury Hospital, started broadcasting to the Kent & Canterbury Hospital in 1972.
The service reported in 2016: “We broadcast on 945 Medium Wave to the patients and staff at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital”.
37.1 Radio Echo (1972)
Hospital Radio Echo, the working name for Radio Echo, started broadcasting to the Cumberland Infirmary in 1962.
“We started as a service for football fans, by providing live commentary from Carlisle United’s home matches. Later on, music programmes were introduced”.
In August 1972 Paul Braithwaite started a request show and the broadcasts went out to the Cumberland Infirmary, City General and City Maternity Hospitals, as well as Strathclyde House.
The name Echo comes from East Cumbria HOspitals.
In 2016 Radio Echo was broadcasting to the Cumberland Infirmary.
38.1 Radio St Helier (1970)
Radio St Helier was started by Mike Button at the St Helier Hospital on 6 June 1970.
“Originally broadcasting from a corner of the Chaplain’s changing room, over time Radio St Helier took over this very small room”.
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio St Helier. St Helier Hospital. Contact: Mrs J Dwelly.
“By the late early 80’s the station had grown in members, programmes and equipment, becoming a fully functional radio station. It was decided that the station had outgrown, to say the least, its original location. A search for ‘a place of our own’ began in the late 80’s”.
“Within the hospital, there were no suitable areas that could be refurbished, the hospital management identified an unused area as a possible site, where Radio St Helier could construct a purpose built studio. With this in mind, the members of the station began a major fundraising project. Over three years, £125,000 was raised with assistance of the local community and businesses. Our current studios were officially opened on the stations 21st Birthday on 6th June 1991”.
Due to the planned closure of the Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children in 1993 a section of the children’s ward in F Block in the St Helier Hospital was altered in 1992 to provide accommodation for the children at the Queen Mary’s Hospital.
When the move to the St Helier Hospital took place St Helier Hospital Radio took over from Radio Lolliop the responsibility of broadcasting to the children that had been relocated. The name “Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children” was though retained.
Note: The world’s first Radio Lolliop service started at the Queen Mary’s Hospital in May 1979.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the St Helier Hospital and Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children.
39.1 Hospital Radio Chelmsford (1964)
The first hospital broadcasting service to be started in Chelmsford in September 1964, was under the auspice of the Chelmsford & Essex Hospital League of Friends, with Marconi Ltd donating much of the equipment. During the 1960s the service expanded to include St John’s, Broomfields, and the Baddow Road Hospital. However, with the closure of the latter in 1971 this link was transferred to St Peter’s Hospital, Maldon.
Since it started the service had been broadcasting from a multi-purpose room in the Chelmsford and Essex Hospital but, due to the increased activities of the service, it was felt that a purpose built facility was required and consequently, during the early part of 1970, the Chelmsford Round Table purchased and refitted a large caravan which became the service’s new home in January 1971.The first broadcast from the caravan’s studio took place on 14 March 1971.
Dennis Rookard recalled: “Back in 1964 the Chelmsford Hospital Radio Service operated out of a day room of the hospital, all equipment being stored away at the end of the one and only Sunday evening broadcast. As for equipment, they used an old Marconi audio mixer that had been given them by the Marconi Company, where all but one of the engineers worked. There was a mixer that had coloured lights on it that changed from green to red as a fader was opened, hi-fi record turntables (301s at £50 a time) and a real professional microphone. Under the leadershIp of Bernard Mullhern the programmes were a mix of local magazine items, reviews and middle of the road music”.
A visit report compiled in 1970 by David Buckley and Mike Alinek of Radio Brockley included some interesting observations on the Chelmsford service: “Chelmsford Hospital Radio Service broadcasts to a potential audience of 1,000 patients in four hospitals in and around Chelmsford.. Approximately 30 people are involved in running the station, the average age being estimated at between 25 and 30.
The cost of the landlines is about £200 per year, this cost being met by the League of Friends of the Hospitals, each League of Friends paying for its particular landline. There is also a line from the local football club. Programmes are broadcast Sunday mornings and evenings, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, some 11 hours per week of which about 1 is news. Record requests are not collected by going round the wards, anyone wanting a request played sends it in by post, and they still get enough for a 2 hour programme each week. The service will soon be moving its studio from the hall into a specially converted caravan, the cost of which is being met by the local Round Table”.
An article written in about 1976 stated: “The service at Chelmsford is a voluntary one designed to provide entertainment for the patients and staff of (four) hospitals: Chelmsford and Essex, St John’s, Broomfield and St Peter’s in Malden. The studios are at St John’s and the programmes are distributed by land line to the other two hospitals. Funds for these lines and other operating expenditure comes from the membership subscriptions, and donations from the League of Friends, the town football club and a local firm which makes regular contributions. Most broadcasting is done on weekday evenings between 8 pm and 10pm, and at weekends for longer periods. The music output of the station is largely middle of the road”.
The caravan, sited at St John’s, provided all the facilities that the service needed for several years, however, as the caravan and equipment began to age the service started to look for a more solid home. After much negotiation with the Area Health Authority, the service found its new home in the Gate Lodge, St John’s Hospital.
On 19 May 1978, the last programme was broadcast from the caravan, the service closed down, equipment was moved from the caravan to the ground floor area of the Gate Lodge and programmes recommenced two days later. The “Chelmsford and District Hospital Broadcasting Service” had now found a proper home and members could walk about the building not having to worry that each step could jog records or the sound of rain on the caravan roof would drown out each word the presenter spoke. Very soon work began on the provision of a top quality broadcasting studio on the first floor area. On 20 February 1982 His Worship the Mayor of Chelmsford (Councillor E R Van Tromp) declared the new Gate Lodge studio open. A second studio was opened in 1985.
In 1992 the service had 100 members and was broadcasting to the Broomfield Hospital and St John’s Hospital. The longest serving members included Dave Robinson (17 years) and Paul Evans, a member from 1973-85 who rejoined in about 1991.
“Clare Hunter and Greig Daines celebrated 35 years of the station in 1999 with a 35 hour show and this gave Greig the idea to break the World Record for non-stop broadcasting, which he would attempt the following year, which he did in 2000 broadcasting non-stop for 73 hours and 33 minutes. You can find this in the 2002 Guinness World Record Book”.
On 29 March 2007 the service moved into new, purpose built, professional studios at Broomfield Hospital.
“On 25 March 2014 we extended our programmes outside of the Hospital, which means Hospital Radio Chelmsford can be listened to on-line. We launched a new website and a Hospital Radio Chelmsford Player app for smartphones and tablets”
40.1 Cotswold Hospital Radio (1974)
“We began as Cheltenham Hospital Radio in 1974. We then began broadcasting as Cotswold Hospital Radio to Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, St Paul’s Maternity and Gloucester Maternity Hospitals in 1976”.
In 2016 the service was being broadcast to the Cheltenham General Hospital and the Gloucestershire Royal hospital.
41.1 Hospital Radio Wey (1965)
“Hospital Radio Wey was started in 1965 by Alan Timbrell and the late John Best. Between them they taped (on old reel to reel tape recorders) two hours of programmes each week. These were then played back to the patients in Weybridge hospital using a portable tape machine”.
In 1967 they approached the hospital authorities who made a small room available in the hospital. “The room was equipped with basic technical equipment and live presentations began in 1967 with 13 hours of programmes a week”.
Between 1968 and 1973 five more hospital were added to the service; Ellesmere and Walton hospitals (1968), St Peters and Ottershaw hospitals (1970) and the Ashford hospital (1973).
In April 1973, the original studio was replaced with new equipment.
After 22 years, in May 1989, the service moved to a new studio building, with two engineering suites, situated in the grounds of St Peter’s hospital.
“Over the years we have attempted to keep up to date with technology and now use a computerised system which can put patient’s requests on-air almost as soon as they make the request or dedication. Listeners can now listen “on line” by logging onto this website and clicking one of the Listen Now buttons”.
In 2016 Radio Wey, the working name for Hospital Radio Wey, was broadcastings to the Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals.
42.1 Radio Lion (About 1966)
It is believed that the first music based service in Chester started in about 1966. A recorded request programme was presented every two weeks, the requests collected on a Sunday, recorded during the week and played the following Sunday through the City Hospital headphone system. The equipment consisted of a turntable, an open spool tape recorder and one microphone.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, John Walker, who had been a member presenting the pre-recorded requests in the City Hospital, set up a hospital broadcasting service at Chidlow House. John organised some fund raising and injected a lot of his own cash to get the new station going.
The station operated from two rooms in Chidlow House, a Nurses Horne, and was connected to the West Cheshire Maternity Hospital. The station’s ident was “Hospital Broadcasting on Channel 4” and opened with “March of the Mods” by the Joe Loss Orchestra. Programmes were broadcast on four nights each week, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a total of 12 hours.
In 1986 Ian Waugh wrote: “By the time I joined in December, 1975, the leading presenters were Kenny Pemberton, Clive Buxton, Guy Starkey and Pete Griffin. Most of the remaining staff being Air Training Corps people that were recruited by John walker who was an officer there”.
During the summer of 1976 the service moved to a building, located in the grounds of the West Cheshire Maternity Hospital that had originally been constructed as a visitors toilet. “It had, in fact, never been a toilet, that was just the intention when it was built. After it was finished they found other uses for it”.
During the move the service continued broadcasting, using a disco unit in a temporary spare room. “Two happy years at this studio ended when the building was reclaimed for use as a Chemist Store, involving us not just in a move to a new building but to another hospital – the Chester Royal Infirmary. We found a couple of free rooms at the Nurse’s Horne at the Infirmary, and the station moved all it’s existing equipment and records across town. One room was used as a studio and record library, the other as an office and general purpose room. The two rooms were about 50 yards apart”. It was at this time that the station acquired a name for the first time, “Radio Alliance”.
Many of the plans being made at that time were never to be implemented. Some 15 months after the move to the Chester Royal Infirmary the station’s output cable was accidentally cut. At the same time the hospital management committee announced that they needed the rooms, and with no other space available at the Infirmary Radio Alliance closed in November 1979.
By the time of the closure the equipment that had been in use since the early 1970s was in need of replacement and a major re-Iaunch of the station was required. It was also decided, for the first time, to run the station by a committee and Tom Leech was elected as the Chairman. Ian Waugh was the Secretary and he wrote to the Chester Lions Club asking for a donation towards a new mixer and turntables. The reply that was received indicated that the Lions Club were willing to put in much more.
On 4 February 1980, the Lions Club agreed to fund Chester hospital radio, in return the station was to be registered as a charity, with a proper constitution, and a committee set up with a post for a Lions Club member. In addition the station was to be named “Radio Lion”. In August a portakabin was delivered to the City Hospital, custom built to act as a studio complex. On 12 March 1981 an inaugural broadcast to the City Hospital, Maternity Unit and the Royal Infirmary took place. In June, after technical problems had been ironed out, the service started full time broadcasting, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
In November 1983 the service once again had to move to another location and broadcasting ceased. In May of the following year Radio Lion re-opened at the West Cheshire Hospital (to be renamed a few weeks later as the Countess of Chester Hospital).
Ian Waugh of Radio Lion added: “Over the years the shows expanded, until by 1990 we have filled every weeknight from 6pm to 10pm, with 4pm starts on Wednesdays and Fridays. During the weekends we broadcast from 9am to 10pm on Saturdays and 1pm to 10pm on Sundays”. Ian Waugh has been Treasurer of the service since 1981 with a short break from 1984-86.
In August 1985 a member of Radio Lion left to form a hospital radio service called Royal Sound at the Royal Infirmary. The service opened in September 1985 and closed in 1987.
43.1 Chesterfield & North Derbyshire Hospital Service (Mid 1970s)
The Chesterfield & North Derbyshire Hospital Service started broadcasting to the Chesterfield Royal Hospital sometime in the mid 1970s.
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Chesterfield Hospital Radio. Contact: Colin Downs. The service was not listed in NAHBOs 1974 Directory.
Steve Jowle reported: “I was involved with Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Hospital radio from 1985 until its demise in 1996, presenting a request programme on Thursday nights”
44.1 Chichester Hospital Radio (1972)
Chichester Hospital Radio was officially opened at Saint Richard’s Hospital on 22 September 1972 by the then Chichester Member of Parliament, Christopher Chataway.
“Initially it operated from a converted storeroom in the hospital, after just 3 years in 1975, it moved to the current studios next to the West Ward block in a building that was previously used as a pram store! The studio was officially opened by Leslie Crowther. The new location consists of a large main studio, a second smaller studio and a library area which is home to a multitude of tracks on a mixture of CD and vinyl”.
In May 2000 the service launched their CHR1431 AM service around the hospital grounds, allowing the service to be heard not only on the nurse call systems at the bedside but on bedside radios for improved convenience.
In 2012 Chichester Hospital Radio expanded its broadcasting to include the Donald Wilson House rehabilitation facility.
45.1 Chippenham Hospitals Radio Service (1982)
Chippenham Hospital Radio, the working name for Chippenham Hospitals Radio Service, was established in 1982 and broadcasts to the Chippenham Community Hospital.
In 2016 Chippenham Hospital Radio was broadcasting to the Chippenham Community Hospital.
46.1 Chorley Hospital Radio (1968)
“Off-beat comic, Jack Douglas of the frantic stage twitch and Oldham accent, eased his ample frame to a stance and with a big hearted grin and a cheerful few words set the seal on 18 months of hard do-it-yourself work by Chorley Round Table on Saturday”.
Those are the words used by a local newspaper to describe the official opening of the Chorley hospitals broadcasting network on 6 September 1968. The network, housed in a pre-fabricated structure in the grounds of Chorley & District Hospital, was then officially handed over to Ena Montgomery, Chairman of the Chorley & District Hospitals’ Welfare Society. The following day it began its scheduled service on Sunday morning with ‘Programme Parade’ followed by children’s requests, the news and the live transmission of a morning service from a Chorley church.
The service started transmitting 12 hours of programmes to 300 patients of Chorley & District, Eaves Lane and Heath Charnock hospitals each week. A staff of six DJs, all voluntary welfare workers, were responsible for running the service.
The opening of a broadcasting network in Chorley brought to an end a link with the Preston hospital broadcasting unit that had started in late 1962 / early 1963. A local newspaper in Preston reported in July 1962: “So popular is the Preston Hospital Welfare Society’s Sunday broadcast to six Preston hospitals that it may be extended to three Chorley hospitals. The programme producer, Mr Peter Wain, is to meet representatives of the Chorley Hospital Welfare Society tonight to discuss plans to include them. Mr Wain started the broadcasts in Preston four years ago”.
By April 1963 Peter Wain, with a staff of eight, had extended the service to eleven hospitals in Preston and Chorley. Peter Wain, a Post Office engineer, was also to be responsible for the design of the newly built Chorley studio that opened in 1968.
By the late 1970s the service was able to receive programmes from six outside broadcasting points. Four of these were from local churches, which took turns to broadcast a Sunday service to the patients. Another land line was used on Sunday evenings to broadcast a 50 minute show live from the New Chorley Labour Club, a large working men’s club. Local man Bert Hill playing patients requests on the club’s electric organ. The sixth land line was used to provide a commentary on Preston North End’s games.
In 1983 Ena Montgomery received a long service award for 25 years with hospital broadcasting. In 1986 Ena recalled: “I have been the Station Manager of Chorley Hospital Broadcasting Service from the day it opened. Prior to that, for many years, I collected requests from the patients in the 3 Chorley hospitals and travelled to Preston (Radio Deepdale HR) 10 miles each way once a week to play the requests back to Chorley via the land line. In those days it only cost us something like £48 per year”.
In 1993 the service had 24 members and was broadcasting 21 hours per week to the Chorley District Hospital, Beechurst Unit, Maternity Unit and Eaves Lane Hospital. Ena Montgomery was still the Station Manager.
“At the turn of the century we celebrated our move into our new studios located within the hospital building”.
“From 14th June 2016 CHR began a new chapter in its life and began streaming its broadcasts across the internet with a lot of work going on behind the scene in the studio. Computers were installed to stream the broadcast across the internet and also to view social media and receive messages from outside the studio. The current Chairperson, Jon Taylor opened the stream that evening and most of the presenters turned up that evening for the grand opening, a few even shed a tear of joy”.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Chorley & South Ribble Hospital.
47.1 Radio Clelland (1967)
In November 1967 Radio Clelland started broadcasting at Clelland Hospital, a small geriatrics hospital. It was founded by Bill Lockie and Murdo Morrison who presented a request show every Saturday morning for about two hours.
The studio equipment, which was stored in a locked “roll down” desk, consisted of 2 turntables, a mixer and microphone.
Throughout its life, until temporary closure in 1993, the service continued to broadcast every Saturday morning. In addition to Murdo Morrison (26 years) and Bill Lockie (22 years) the other past members were Lance Pearson (20 years) and John O’Hara (1.5 years).
48.1 Loughborough Hospital Broadcasting Service – Carillon Radio (1976)
The Loughborough Hospital Broadcasting Service started broadcasting in 1976 over an internal speaker system in Loughborough General Hospital.
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Loughborough Hospital Broadcasting Service. Loughborough General Hospital. Contact: M Brindley.
“It was in 1999 that the station took the huge leap in development and applied to broadcast on medium wave, a move that was seen to be daring for a small town broadcaster and in 2000 they became the smallest hospital radio to be granted this status. It was at this stage that they became Carillon Radio”.
Since then the station has been through several major changes. It has moved location several times and expanded in the number of hospitals that it broadcasts to. It has also now become the first hospital broadcaster in the country to become a Community Radio with the development of Hermitage FM.
Hospital receiving the service in 2012: Loughborough Hospital and Coalville Hospital, Ashby De La Zouch Hosptal, Oakham Hospital & Melton Mowbray Hospital Leicester & Rutland. Station broadcasting on 1386 AM.
“Carillon Radio is in the process of making the natural progression from Hospital radio and volunteering to community radio and volunteering. We are already beginning to take over from local radio stations in the hosting of community events. Nobody knows the local community as well as we do; we are the local community.”-Jon Sketchley
See Part 2. Colchester (1953) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
49.1 Hospital Radio Colchester (1963)
In 1962 Keith Southern, Christine Bennett and Bill Tucker met in the Lyons cafe in Colchester. They discussed the possibility of extending the football commentary service that had been in existence since early 1953, with programmes of music and record requests. Patients were demanding music at half time and after the match instead of just soccer comments. In fact these demands formed the first record request programmes. To develop the new service an entertainments committee, made up of the football supporters, Colchester Community Fund and ‘King Coles Kittens’ was quickly established.
Just before Christmas 1963, with two record turntables, a tape recorder and table microphone, Colchester Hospitals Broadcasting Service was launched.
Dick Joyce of Anglia Television opened the station that was set up in the football supporters clubroom at Layer Road, the home of Colchester United. Bill Tucker recalls starting the first programme: “Calling the patients and staff of the Essex County Hospital, Myland Hospital, the Military Hospital etc. This is Colchester Hospitals Broadcasting Service”.
Late in 1965, at a rental of £250 per year, room were found above 125 High Street, Colchester. Three large and one small room were converted into a sound control room and studio, a record library and lounge. With a boom in pirate radio and the likelihood of licensed local radio the name was changed to Radio Colchester and the service began broadcasting six days a week, with Tuesday set aside for maintenance of the equipment.
During the following eight years programme times were increased, live outside broadcasts were started (initially such broadcasts being taped and quickly rushed back to the studio for transmission). Lines were connected to the lower castle park, the Tattoo, the cricket ground, the Repertory Theatre, The Mercury, Moot Hall and St Botolphs Church. By the early 1970s nine hospitals were linked to the system – 6 in Colchester, St Michaels and William Julian Courtauld in Braintree, and one in Notley.
In the early 1970s major problems began to emerge. Colchester’s Military Hospital closed, the status of Braintree hospitals changed to that of geriatric and then the Chelmsford Hospital administrator gave two years notice of terminating the service due the high cost of the yearly connection charge (about £300 per year). Worst of all was the property boom and nearly £900 was demanded by the landlord for rental of the accommodation.
A local newspaper reported: “Radio Colchester, the charity radio service that broadcasts to nine local hospitals, will definitely continue transmissions despite a massive rent rise. At present Radio Colchester, which has brought music and messages to over 80,000 patients in it’s 11 years, operates from a High Street studio that it leases”. The newspaper report noted that the service was being fed to patients at Essex County, St Mary’s, Myland, Military, Severalls, the Braintree William J Courtauld, St Michael’s and Black Notley hospitals (the ninth hospital was not mentioned).
In 1974 a search for smaller and cheaper premises began and in 1975 rooms were found at the Odeon Cinema in Crouch Street. For £500 a year the complete west wing of the building became the new headquarters. The move from 125 High Street took one week “with only two records broken”. It was at this point the station became known as Hospital Radio Colchester.
A newspaper reported in January 1976: “Hospital Radio Colchester’s new studios will be completed in February and the completion of the new studios in the old theatre dressing rooms at Colchester Odeon will be marked by an official opening ceremony on February 27. Since October programmes have been transmitted from makeshift equipment in unsound-proofed rooms at the Odeon, while alterations have gone on all around. Hospital Radio Colchester was founded in 1963 and now broadcasts three hours a day, six days per week to nine hospitals in and around Colchester”.
In the late 1970s the Braintree hospitals were disconnected from the service, reducing the number of hospitals served to six. Other cuts came. The ‘live’ facilities of Mercury, Moot Hall Tattoo and St Botolphs Church were discontinued due to the escalating costs. By now the land line rental had approached nearly £2,000.
Celebrating 21 years of Hospital Radio Colchester, the service’s public relations officer, Paul Diggens, wrote in 1984: “The future of HRC is unknown, as the role of patient entertainment is changing with each ward rigged out with television. The new hospital in Colchester has multi-channel facilities at each bedside and, thankfully for the broadcasters, Hospital Radio Colchester has been included. But in Colchester there is and always has been a gratefulness to a small band of broadcasters for personal, friendly, localised programmes to those unfortunate enough to be in hospital. Radio Colchester is a service for the people, by the people with dedication and love”. Paul added: “The success of HRC can only be measured by surveys and thank you letters. The station usually handles some 500 record requests a month”.
Celebrating the service’s 21st birthday were four broadcasters who had notched up a total of nearly 100 years on air – football commentator pioneers, Eric Southenwood and Godfrey Thomas (28 years each), HRC Chairwoman Christine Bennett and Reg Casbolt (21 years each). Among those sending good wishes was Brian Hanrahan of the BBC, who started at HRC in 1967.
By 1984 the cost of running the service had risen to £4,000 a year, with programmes being broadcast to five Colchester based hospitals seven days per week.
The service had to leave its premises in the Odeon cinema in 1990, moving for several months to temporary accommodation in Layer Road (the home of Colchester United football club). In March 1991 a permanent studio was established in the Wilson Marriage Centre. At about this time the long serving founder member, Bill Tucker, left the service.
In 1992 the service had about 60 members and was broadcasting 30 hours per week to the Essex County Hospital, the Maternity Hospital, Severalls Hospital and the new General Hospital. Reg Casbolt and Christine Bennett were still members.
In 2008 the service had to again and were offered accommodation on-site at the Colchester General Hospital; “fulfilling a long term goal to have our studio`s located on the main hospital site. Following a period of more than 15 months, during which time we broadcast from a make shift studio whilst a small team of volunteers carried out a complete refurbishment of the building, our South Lodge studios were officially opened on 8th December 2008”.
In 2016 Hospital Radio Colchester was broadcasting to the Colchester General Hospital and the Essex County Hospital.
50.1 Radio Netherne (About 1976)
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio Netherne. Netherne Hospital. Contact: Mrs I Loveridge (Co-ordinator of Vol. Services). The service was not listed in NAHBOs 1974 Directory.
Historical note: In December 1922 a cinematograph was installed in the Recreation Hall of the Netherne Hospital to provide a new form of entertainment for the patients. Wireless (radio) was installed in many of the wards.
In 1994 the Netherne Hospital closed.
51.1 Coventry Hospital Radio (1972)
In 1972 a service called Walsgrave Radio started broadcasting from the Walsgrave Hospital.
“Hospital radio in Coventry started in 1971 when an American patient wanted to listen to Coventry City football matches and found out that he could not. When he got out of the hospital he set up a trust fund which paid for the landlines to connect the hospital to the Sky Blues old home ground of Highfield Road. All home matches were then broadcast until the move from Highfield Road to the Ricoh Arena in 2005”.
NAHBOs 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Coventry Hospitals Broadcasting Service. Walsgrave Hospital. Contact: Ashley Thomas. 40 members. Number of hospitals served: 7.
In July 2006, with the opening of the new University Hospital Coventry, the service moved from the Walsgrave Hospital into a state of the art studio situated on the 5th floor of the new hospital.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_Hospital_Coventry (Coventry Hospital Radio entry)
In 2014 Coventry Hospital Radio, as it became known, also started broadcasting online via its own website.
52.1 Crawley & District Hospital Broadcasting Association (Circa 1977)
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Crawley & District Hospital Broadcasting Association. Contact: M Reed. The service was not listed in NAHBOs 1974 Directory.
52.2 Radio Smallfield (Circa 1977)
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio Smallfield. Contact: M Reed. The service was not listed in NAHBOs 1974 Directory.
Note: Smallfields is a village near Crawley, Surrey.
The Smallfield Hospital closed in 1983.
See Part 2 Crewe (About 1961/62) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
53.1 Crewe and District Hospitals Broadcasts Service (1968) / Hospital Radio Leighton
In 1968 the Crewe and District Hospitals Broadcasts Service, that ran the sports commentary service from Crewe Alexandria, arranged a meeting with the South Cheshire Hospital Management Committee about establishing a studio and regular broadcasts to patients within the Crewe area.
This resulted in permission being given to the society by the Management Committee, along with a room at the Coppenhall Hospital, where a studio was installed.
Broadcasting from the studio in the Coppenhall Hospital started in November 1968 with a regular record request programme, along with the Crewe Alexandra commentary service. “At the start of broadcasting it was believed that Crewe was the smallest town in the Country to have a Hospital’s Broadcasts service of its own”.
On the 5 May 1972 the new Leighton Hospital was opened and the new bedside radios were equipped with the facility to receive Hospital Radio.
“In April 1975 the Coppenhall studio was broken into with minor things like tea money being stolen. It did highlight the lack of security in the studio area and caused the shutdown of the service. The equipment was moved into temporary storage at the Memorial Hospital in May. By January 1975 the Memorial Hospital had given the SCHBS a room for it to restart broadcasting.”
On the 15th January 1976 Nick Clarke & David Davies from the BBC television programme ‘Look North’ officially opened the new studio at the Memorial Hospital.
“By March 1980 the studio at the Memorial Hospital was considered too small for the needs of the society and so the local Health Authority were asked if they had a bigger room. It was proposed that a move to the Barony Hospital in Nantwich would be appropriate and a room was looked at”.
In December 1980 the society moved into their new studio at the Barony to start alterations. On the 7 August 1981 the Memorial studio closed for the last time and equipment was moved to the Barony. By the 30 September all installations had been completed and the studio was ready for the first official broadcast on the 26 October 1981.
By the end of the 1980’s more rooms were needed at Nantwich for the Health Service and the broadcasters were offered a new studio area at Leighton hospital.
On the 26 February 1988 Hospital Radio ambassador and magician Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie McGee opened the new studio. Hospital Radio Leighton became the working name for the South Cheshire Hospital Broadcasting Service,
“In 2005 the hospital agreed to an upgrade of the room/studio and so a major refurbishment took place giving the broadcasters a brilliant new facility to produce good quality programmes in”.
“In 2007 Hospital Radio Leighton joined Patientline (now called HOSPEDIA) and now broadcast its programmes in stereo giving the listener good quality sound to go with its great quality of presenters broadcasting just for you while you are in Hospital”.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting from a studio in the Leighton hospital. “The station also continues to broadcast a football commentary of each home match of Crewe Alexandra”.