1.1 Radio E C H (1973)
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Radio E C H. West Park Hospital. Hospitals Served: 3. Formed Sept 73. Contact: Mr Richard Porter.
The service, with the working name of Bedside Radio, ceased broadcasting in 2005.
An on-line message dated 31 October 2006 read: “Last night I attended a meeting to officially close down Macclesfield’s Hospital Radio station: Bedside Radio. Due to lack of numbers the station hasn’t broadcast for more than 12 months and the final nail in the coffin is the land where the studio is based being sold off to developers”.
Another on-line message date 3 Sept 2007 read: “They used to have two fully equipped studios and a large team to support the operation”.
2.1 Hospital Radio Maidstone (1963)
Hospital broadcasting in Maidstone began when a gentleman named Graham Norman decided to put together in his bedroom a tape of patient’s requests. Others heard about this and joined together as the ‘Maidstone Hospital’s Broadcasting Service’.
The programmes were recorded one week and broadcast the next by taking a tape machine to the hospital and relaying it on the hospital’s internal rediffusion systems. Members without cars went to the West Kent Hospital and those with cars were sent to the Linton Hospital.
The first broadcast was made at the Oakwood Hospital on 5 April 1963, and by August of that year a regular service had been established. By 5 September the group were offered the use of one of the gate houses of the hospital and this permitted the service to get firmly established. It became the home for the service for the next two decades.
By March 1965, these pre-recorded broadcasts were also being heard in the West Kent Hospital and in January 1967 at the Linton Hospital.
A booklet describing the history of the service recorded: “The replays to the West Kent went out from the old chapel, which according to our records was described as very creaky and spooky, especially in the winter. One member, Allison, recalled the day when she was sitting with the tape feeling a little nervous, when suddenly the hatch in the floor creaked open leaving her tom between running or staying with the tape. It turned out to be a passing workman, but after that our members decided that they would go to the hospital in pairs”.
In the early days the studio consisted of a large room upstairs in the gate house and an open plan area with stairs through the middle. The presenter would sit in the room at the microphone and the rest of the team would stand around the top of the stairs with the equipment precariously perched on tables. Programme recordings took place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
During May 1967 the station’s name was changed to ‘Hospital Radio Maidstone’ and on 5 December of that year John Hart, assisted by Jenny Drew, made the first live broadcast via a GPO land line.
In 1973 a second on-air studio was completed in the gate house. It was formally opened on 5 September with the cutting of a ribbon made of recording tape by the Mayor of Maidstone, Councillor Kenneth Graham. Four years later, in 1977, the service received a donation from the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fund, enabling a third studio to be built.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Studio: The Centre, Oakwood Hospital. Number of members: 14. Number of hospitals served: 5. Contact: James Hitchmough. Start date: April 1963.
By the time the service celebrated its 21st birthday in 1984 it had become apparent that expensive new equipment was required and an appeal was launched to raise the estimated £15,000.
On 12 September 1987 two brand new studios, fitted out with some of the latest equipment available, were officially opened by Barbara Sturgeon of Radio Kent. With the more comprehensive facilities and virtually no landline costs ‘Hospital Radio Maidstone’ opened a second broadcasting channel running along-side the existing request programme.
The 1980’s culminated in the service being voted one of the seven regional winners of a competition, run in association with British Telecom, designed to find the best Hospital Radio service in the country. The award was received at the top of Telecom Tower on 5 March 1990.
In the early 1990s the service had to move from the Gatehouse studio complex at the Oakhouse Hospital. They were given “a generously proportioned suite of rooms in the new service centre at the main hospital”. Vin Judd designed three spacious ‘on air’ studios, a large record library, lounge area and an office.
Sue Young of Hospital Radio Maidstone wrote in 1992: “The longest serving members of the service are Vin Judd and Jim Lakeland with over 20 years service each. They are followed by Mary Judd and Colin Woolven who both have over 15 years service, then there are quire a few of us who have between 10 and 15 years service: Jon Maxheld (our chairman), Steve Wood, Chris Bosworth, Jonathan Webb and myself”.
By 1992 the service had some 70 members and was providing over 100 hours of programming per week to the Maidstone Hospital, the Psychiatric Wing and the Kent County Ophthalmic Hospital. An entry in the booklet describing the history of the service sums up the station’s success: “Our two services receive well over one thousand requests and dedications from patients and staff a month”.
In 2000 the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust announced that they needed the space occupied by the service’s studios for offices. Once again Vin Judd, as he did ten years previously, re-designed and built a compact studio suite, which included brand new mixing desks, without any disruption to broadcasts.
The new studios were opened by legendary pop singer, TV star Adam Faith.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Oakhouse Hospital.
Two music based services started in Manchester in the 1950s and 1960s. The first one evolved from the football commentary service that TOC H had started two years previously. The second service was started in the early 1960s to cover hospitals in north Manchester. Between 1977 and 1991 three more services began broadcasting in Manchester.
See Part 2 – Manchester (1952) for information on the sports commentary service.
3.1 Manchester Hospital Radio (1954)
The Manchester Salford and District Hospital Commentaries Association, that had started in August 1952, realised that the landlines were paid for on an annual basis and that football was only one aspect which could be related to the provision of a service to patients in hospital.
A studio was established at TOC H House, Victoria Park, Manchester and programmes of patients requests began in 1954. The equipment was simple and so was the programme format. Everything had to be assembled and packed away before and after each transmission. Four teams of four people produced these request programmes and they went out on Friday evenings and on Sunday mornings for two hours. Between 1954 and 1963 each team was on duty once per month.
In January, 1955, TOC H reported: “A small transmitting station has been set up in Mark 1V, Manchester by the Hospital Commentaries Association and several of the Marksmen and TOC H members are co-operating in the twice weekly relay of request record programmes to approximately 10,000 patients in twenty-two hospitals. The Controller is a BBC engineer who is Deputy Warden at the Mark”. In 1963 the service moved to a permanent studio within the same building, where it remained until 1983, and eventually a programme went out every day of the week. Over the next few years broadcasts of a varied nature were arranged including a Command Performance from the Palace Theatre, Manchester, that was attended by the Queen Mother.
Dick Roberts was Secretary of the Organisation from 1952 until his death on 29th August 1983. At about this time TOC H decided to sell the house in Victoria Park. Peter Dawes wrote in 1990: “This was a serious blow to our resources at the time. Dick had just died, having just appointed me his successor, and I had to find what seemed an enormous amount of money to open a new studio. Also we had no idea where this studio would be sited. After negotiations with TOC H they decided that they would pay our expenses to move to another studio and in addition they would pay for any extra equipment that we may need. I thought that this was very generous. I was able to persuade the hospital authorities at St Mary’s Manchester to find us some studio accommodation and we have been there since 1983”.
After much upheaval the new studio was established in St Mary’s Hospital, and the name of the service changed to become ‘Manchester Hospital Radio’. In November 1984 it was decided that due to a severe shortage of presenters, Manchester Hospital Radio would cease to broadcast on every weekday evening and broadcast only on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. After almost two years, due to the combined efforts of the Committee, in November 1986 the service re-started broadcasting seven days a week, and for longer periods than before.
By the end of the 1980s Manchester Hospital Radio was being relayed to 25 hospitals.
3.2 Northern Air Hospital Radio (1961)
A hospital broadcasting service serving mainly hospitals in north Manchester was started in 1961 by Stanley Langer with the backing of the Rotary Club of Manchester North. For the first few years broadcasts were made from an impromptu studio in the Assistant Matron’s sitting room at the Delauneys Hospital, moving in 1969 to a studio in the North Manchester General Hospital.
A local newspaper reported on 19th September, 1969: “The Rotary Club of Manchester North runs a record request programme one evening each week from a studio provided by the hospital, a conversion of a store room by the hospital maintenance staff. Each Thursday evening the same team of three Rotarians and the wife of one of them put out a 2.5 hour programme of requests.
Patients, ex-patients, relatives or nurses write for requests to be played for any hospital patient or nurse in the following (8) hospitals: Delaunays, CrumpsaIl Main Hospital, Ancoats Hospital, Manchester Northern Hospital, Jewish Hospital, Springfield Hospital, Salford Royal Hospital and Prestwich Hospital”.
Another newspaper report, dated 29th December, 1978, indicated that the studio was located in the old Crumpsall Hospital and that the service, now called ‘Radio Crumpsall’, was being received by seven hospitals.
By the early 1980s the team consisted of some 30 regulars, including 10 presenters, some of whom, like Dave and Philip Langer, had grown up in its service. From the original one show a week, the service had expanded to provide 17 hours of broadcasts spread over seven shows, including ‘phone-in’ and competition programmes on Sunday afternoons. The programmes were being relayed to eleven Manchester hospitals – North Manchester General, the Northern, the Jewish, Delauneys, Booth Hall Children’s, Monsall, Ancoats, Crumpsall, Springfield, as well as to Heathlands Home for the Aged and Broughton House, a residential hospital for disabled servicemen.
NAHBO’s 1987 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations records that the service was at that time called ‘Manchester Hospital Broadcasting’. In 1988 the service altered its on-air identification of ‘Radio HBS’ to ‘Northern Air”.
The service’s web site in 2016 read: “On 15th June 1988, the Duke of Devonshire opened the purpose built studios, which are the centre of operations for Northern Air today. The Duchess of Devonshire remains a Patron, and Northern Air is proud to also receive the patronage and support of many other distinguished figures.
And in this ever-changing world, it’s reassuring to know that there is a line of succession in the running of this vital service. Stanley’s son, Dave Langer, is as much involved as his late father was. Dave ably assists Station Manager John Robinson & Chairman Joe Sambrook in the day-to-day operations and long- term future of the station. Northern Air now broadcasts 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week to the North Manchester General Hospital and Salford Royal Hospital communities”.
3.3 Radio Wishing Well (1981)
A newspaper reported in the early 1980s: “A new radio station is to go on the air shortly – at Park Hospital, Davyhulme – but so far it lacks a name, so organisers are running a competition to solve the problem. Anyone who thinks they have an original or entertaining name for the hospital radio station should drop a line to Mr Bryon Richards in the X-Ray department, Park Hospital, before August 10.
Music and requests will be broadcast from the room which housed the hospital’s mini-telephone exchange before the new system was installed, but a step has to be built over some cables near the door to allow easier access before the first programme can be transmitted. Superintendent radiographer Mr Richards, who initiated the scheme with administrator Derek Welsh two years ago, explained that patients presently listen to the BBC stations or TOC H – the Manchester and Salford Hospital Radio Service”.
As the new service was preparing to go on-air the hospital’s system of bedside headphones was being updated and partly replaced at a cost of £2,500 which the League of Friends agreed to provide. In 1992 Derek Welsh wrote: “The station was launched in September, 1981, and I think I am probably the last remaining person who was associated with the original radio station. The radio station presently has 10 members and continues to serve only Trafford General Hospital”.
3.4 Wythenshawe Hospital Radio Service (1981)
In 1981 Wythenshawe Hospital Radio Service, ‘FAB Radio’, was set up in premises in the Wythenshawe Hospital. The early members consisted of Andy Barr, Gary Williams, Bob Tomlinson and Mike Banks.
Trevor Thomas, a member of the service, wrote in 1990: “One of these pioneers (Mike Banks) went on to become our original station manager and longest running chairman up to 1987. Prior to our hospital service, I believe a trial service of similar programming was available in the 1950s and following this the Manchester service was available up to the 1970s.
‘FAB Radio’ is completely independent of ‘Manchester Hospital Radio’ today. During our nine years we have expanded our membership to 40 and our broadcasting days to 7 a week and have maintained our role in local events”.
Wythenshawe Hospital Radio Service was removed from the charity register on 29 January 2003.
4.1 Hospital Broadcasting Service Margate (Pre 1969)
A minute book at the Edinburgh Hospital Broadcasting Service records: “In 1968 taped programme exchanges were taking place with a hospital radio station in Margate”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Hospital Broadcasting Service (Margate). Royal Sea Bathing Hospital. Contact: Mrs M Goldberger.
Tim Stewart was a member of the service from 1975 to 1989.
A studio called “Viking Radio Studio” was located at the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital.
On 10 February 2000 the organisation was dissolved and removed from the list of registered charities.
5.1 Southside Broadcasting (1981)
Southside Broadcasting, the working name for Southside Broadcasting Ltd, started broadcasting in 1981 to the James Cook University Hospital.
- Milton Keynes
6.1 Milton Keynes Hospital Radio (1984)
Milton Keynes Hospital Radio, the working name for Milton Keynes Hospital Radio Service, started broadcasting to the Milton Keynes General Hospital in 1984.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Milton Keynes General Hospital.
7.1 Hospital Radio Swale (1974)
Hospital Radio Swale started broadcasting in 1974 to the old Sheppey Maternity Hospital on Wards Hill. “With just two record decks, a tape machine and a mixer they broadcast to the staff, patients and visitors”.
“When the hospital changed its status and became a general and recovery hospital we moved into the main building and with the financial help of local pub landlord Joe Park built two state of the art studios. These studios remained “on air” until the new Sheppey Community Hospital in Plover Road was opened in 2002. In 1996 the Memorial Hospital in Sittingbourne was opened.”
“This took Hospital Radio Swale into the digital age using computers and radio automation software we provided music 24/7 as well as broadcasting to both hospitals simultaneously. The Sittingbourne studio has now closed but work continues to upgrade and improve the two studios we have at Sheppey Community Hospital”.
In 2016 Hospital Radio Swale was broadcasting to the Faversham Cottage Hospital (Faversham), Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital (Herne Bay), Sheppey Community Hospital (Minister-on-Sea), Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital (Sittingbourne) and the Victoria Memorial Hospital (Deal).
8.1 Lancaster & Morecombe Hospital Radio (Circa Mid 1970s)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Lancaster & Morecombe Hospital Radio. The Studio, Royal Lancaster Infirmary. Contact: Mrs Margaret Milward.
In February 2008 Bay Trust Radio started broadcasting to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. See Kendal.
See Part 2. Newcastle (1951) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
9.1 Radio Tyneside Network (1957)
In Newcastle a record request programme first went on the air on 8 February 1957. It started as a result of numerous requests received mainly from women patients who, having heard the football broadcasts, wondered whether they could have a musical programme of their own choice.
“Over the years, the station expanded and in the sixties we obtained a small room above the old Rediffusion shop in the centre of the city where a weekly request show was broadcast by two of the commentators, Frank Lowery and Tom Taylor, using records borrowed for the occasion from Jeavons record store”.
The programme presented every Friday night at 8pm by the two commentators from the Tyneside Hospitals Commentators Association became popularly known as “Frank and Tom’s”. Tom’s son Max recalls that when he was a boy he went with his father every Friday evening to Jeavons to collect the records for the Friday programme and they were allowed to keep them until Monday. Max commented: “We had a great time playing them at home over the weekend”.
An article printed mid 1959 read: “From relatively small beginnings the number of requests have continued to increase and now 200 letters per week are received, not only from patients but also from members of hospital staff who have also come to regard this programme as their own. In between playing the records, messages are broadcast from friends and relatives, and items of gossip gleaned from the various hospital wards are also put out. There is no doubt that this programme has proved to be a very popular feature of Hospital Close Circuit Broadcasting, and it is worthwhile to note that letters requesting messages and records are not only received from the four corners of Great Britain, but also from as far afield as Canada, Singapore, Rhodesia and many countries in Europe”.
The article continued: “The programme originally consisted of ten records together with messages and lasted one hour from 8pm to 9pm, but its popularity has increased so much that it now runs at least one hour and three-quarters, when 20 records are played, and usually terminates with only enough time to allow Frank and Tom to nip round the corner for a quick one before ten o’clock. In the early days of the programme, both local and visiting celebrities were interviewed every week, but this feature has been discontinued latterly due to the large number of letters received with record requests, but we do hope from time to time to bring other personalities to the microphone. In the past such notable persons from legitimate stage as Margaret Lockwood, Claire Bloom, Flora Robson, Michael Dennison, Richard Attenborough, Moira Shearer and Joyce Grenfell have been interviewed, and from the world of variety Harry Seacombe, Frankie Vaughan, Dickie Valentine, Winifred Attwell, David Whitfield, Alma Cogan, Petula Clark, Michael Holliday, Max Wall, Vie Oliver, Jimmy Young, Cyril Stapleton and Marian Ryan are just some of those who have graced our programme”.
By 1959 the programmes were being heard in the following 7 hospitals: Royal Victoria Infirmary, the Newcastle General Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Gateshead), Sheriff Hill Hospital (Gateshead), Walkergate Hospital (Hunters Moor), Bensham General Hospital (Dunston Hill) and Normans Riding (Winlaton).
Peter Hetherington joined the organisation in 1965 and with Frank Lowery continued the request programme from above the Rediffusion shop in Blackett Street, Newcastle. Peter recalls that they had a Dansette record player, and that his wife, Mary, used to change the records whilst he and Frank did the links.
In 1970 the organisation was given the old workhouse at the Newcastle General Hospital. “Size wise this was like a palace compared to the room they had but it did need a lot of work doing to it before it could be used for broadcasting programmes”.
By this time Peter had recruited some other volunteers interested in hospital radio and they set about transforming the workhouse into a studio. Egg boxes were fitted onto the walls and with the help of Rediffusion the studio became a reality. Members in those days, in addition to Peter and Frank, were; Phil Penfold, Steve Hughes, Dave Dixon, Rob O’Keefe, Pete Wilson and Ian Charlton. The service was now broadcasting on Wednesdays and Fridays (8pm until l0pm, Friday being the two hour request programme with Peter and Frank) and Saturdays. Saturday broadcasting being from 10am to 5pm, featuring football in the afternoon from either Newcastle or Sunderland.
At the same time the service was connected to the wards in the General and also to Hunters Moor and Sandringham hospitals.
A couple of years later the service was connected to hospitals ‘over the water’ in Gateshead: The Queen Elizabeth, Dunston Hill, Bensham General and Whickham Cottage. Over they years these hospitals closed and moved into an extended Queen Elizabeth. Likewise Sandringham Hospital in Newcastle closed when the Freeman Hospital was built.
In 1973 under new management Radio Tyneside started recruiting volunteers that allowed the station to increase its broadcasting hours. By 1975 it was on air seven days a week every evening and all day at weekends.
Dave Nicholson, who joined in 1973 (later to become the Station Director) recounted: “In 1972 the service acquired another studio in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, linked to Newcastle via landlines paid for by the Gateshead Health Authority.· This was a small studio and was used to produce a children’s programme which was broadcast on a Saturday morning. The Friday request programme became ‘two way’, Peter in Gateshead and Frank in Newcastle. The studio was also used to produce community type programmes, plus drama. In 1973 (at this junction I joined the organisation) Frank Lowery felt he was getting too old for the Station and that a younger element should get involved. Peter advertised for staff and as a result was able to increase its output to 7 days a week. By this time BBC Local Radio was up and running and commercial radio was also on the air. Peter felt that we may lose our identity up against names like Radio Newcastle (BBC) and Metro Radio (ILR) so he introduced the title ‘STATION RTN’ (Radio Tyneside Network)”.
“As the years went by the volunteers worked hard to raise money and by the time of the station’s 30th birthday in 1981 had raised sufficient money to refurbish its studios with state of the art equipment. To celebrate the thirtieth, the station did a 60 hour non-stop sponsored broadcast raising £3,000”.
In 1982 Radio Tyneside Network (RTN) was providing programmes seven days a week to ten hospitals in the Newcastle and Gateshead areas. By the end of the decade, with a membership that had now risen to 45, the service was still broadcasting seven days a week from studios in Newcastle and Gateshead.
“It was in 1990 that the station decided to raise £35,000 to completely gut, rebuild and refurbish its building which would include two studios. Work started in February 1991 and all the stations programmes were broadcast from a small studio set up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead. The official opening of the refurbished studio centre was performed by Simon Bates in February 1992”.
“The next big event in the history of Radio Tyneside came in early 1997 when the station was invited by the Radio Authority to run an experiment of broadcasting hospital radio to the patients and staff via an AM transmitter”.
The experiment got up and running in the November. It proved a success and the Radio Authority offered Radio Tyneside a five year licence to continue the AM broadcasts. Radio Tyneside applied and was awarded its transmission licence on the 27 October 1998 and started broadcasting on 1575AM on 4 November 1998.
Radio Tyneside was the first hospital broadcasting service to broadcast via LPAM.
See Annex A: Hospital Broadcasting Services on Low Power AM and FM
“It was also the start of 24 hour broadcasting by the organisation and was made possible by purchasing a smart piece of computer technology called Myriad from a company called PSquared. Again, an expensive period for the station, having to buy the transmission equipment required by again local businesses, the WRVS and the League of Friends in the Hospitals helped us pay for it all”.
“Also in 1997 we were proud when it was announced that Dave Nicholson, the Station Director, was presented with an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace”.
The biggest change to affect Radio Tyneside took place in May 2009.
“Since 1970 we had broadcast from the General Hospital but we had known for a while that we were going to have to move because of the redevelopment of the hospital site.
In the March of 2009 we asked to look at a house situated near the rear to the RVI. On viewing the building we couldn’t believe our eyes as the building was much bigger than the one we had. We were over the moon but a lot of work was needed to convert the rooms into studios. Thanks to some hard work by the staff we had raised money for the move and with some financial help from the Trust the building was converted and the move took place. We never went off air but for a couple of weeks we provided non-stop music whilst the move took place and in the June we back to normal in what can be only described as one of the best hospital broadcasting centres in the UK”.
“The move also let us expand our service. At the time we were heard on the wards on Hospedia and to the staff via our medium wave transmitter. Having new equipment we decided to start broadcasting via the internet and found that a number of patients were listening to us after they went home. It also gave us the opportunity to promote a number of health related information to a wider audience which we continue to broadcast.
In October 2011 we celebrated our 60th birthday by opening the doors to anyone who wished to visit us. This included listeners, guests and many e volunteers. We broadcast live throughout the day including an interview with Ann Lowery, wife of one of our founders, Frank, who told our listeners some wonderful stories of the early days”.
“We have covered many events over the years but our biggest, happens every September when we cover the start of the Great North Run, which happens right outside of our studios. A special studio is built each year out in the street and our coverage has been carried by other hospital radio stations plus two local community stations. To be able to produce these types of outside broadcasts was due to a National Lottery Grant which allowed us to purchase an £8000 unit which sends our signals back to the studios via wifi or 3G technology and has allowed us to attend many events in the community”.
“Our Great North coverage has won us many awards in the annual National Hospital Radio Awards plus in 2016 saw us pick up a silver award as runner up to Station of the Year”.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to three hospitals: the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Freeman and the Queen Elizabeth. “Radio Tyneside can be heard on Hospedia, the hospital entertainment system, on 1575 AM, on Radio Player, at www.radiotyneside.co.uk and on the i phone, 24 hours a day”.
- Newport (IOW)
10.1 Isle of Wight Hospital Broadcasting Association (1973)
In early 1971 two radio hams had the bright idea to form a hospital radio organisation on the Isle of Wight. They were Mike Cooley and Rob Mannion.
“We were joined by a professional broadcaster from Radio Solent – Bill Lyon who lectured us on broadcasting techniques. One day, in 1972, we were summoned to the old workhouse in the grounds of St. Mary’s Hospital and informed that this was going to be our radio station”. .
“The apprentices at Plessey (now BAE Systems) in Cowes, took on the project to design and build our audio mixer. They went over to Radio Solent and looked at their Outside Broadcast mixer, came back and built a carbon copy for us. We now had an 8 channel audio mixer but nothing else. Come the New Year of 1973, Bill Lyon suddenly dropped a bombshell on us; Lord Louis (Earl Mountbatten of Burma) would be on the Isle of Wight early in February and would be coming in to open our Radio Station”.
The service was formally opened 2 February 1973 by Lord Louis.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Isle of Wight Hospital Broadcasting Association. St Marys Hospital. Contact: Mike Cooleyd.
Over the years the service was connected to four other hospitals on the Island – the Frank James Hospital (closed 2002), the Royal Isle of Wight County Hospital, Ryde (closed 1992), the Fairlee Isloation Hospital, which became the Earl Mountbatten Hospice in 1982 and the Whitecroft Mental Hospital (closed 1992).
1985/6 the hospital fire officer condemned the old complex that was located downstairs in the hospital and new studios were rebuilt upstairs.
In 2016 Sunshine Radio was broadcasting to St Marys Hospital from a studio complex in the hospital.
- Newton Abbot
11.1 Newton Abbot Hospital Radio (1982)
Tower Sound, the working name for Newton Abbot Hospital Radio, was established in 1982 and broadcasts to Newton Abbot Hospital.
See Part 2 – Northampton (1953) for information on the sports commentary service.
12.1 Radio Nene Valley (1971)
On Sunday 7 November 1971 a service, then called Radio Titania, started broadcasting to the Northampton General Hospital.
“Space for a studio was provided by an understandably cautious health authority, in the form of a vacant nurse’s bedroom on the top floor of the old hospital above the Billing Road entrance. This 150 square feet housed the studio, record library, switching equipment, office and reception for several years until a second adjacent bedroom was also provided”.
“For 12 years the station, which had become Radio Nene Valley, began to build itself a reputation and a niche within its role of providing a service to the community. In 1983 we moved to a brand new broadcast suite (formerly the hospital kitchens). As hospital radio stations go, we’re proud to be one of the best resourced with two presentation suites, interview studio, media library, reception area, workshop, store and offices”.
In 2016 Radio Nene Valley was broadcasting to the Northampton General Hospital.
See Part 2 – Norwich (1952) for information on the sports commentary service.
13.1 Hospital Radio Norwich (1974)
Norwich Hospital Radio began broadcasting in December 1974 from a studio in the West Norwich Hospital. The service was also broadcast to the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital.
The following year, in 1975, the studio moved to premises in All Saints Green in Norwich. The service moved again in 1984 to premises rented from Norwich City Council in Exchange Street, Norwich. Three years late, in 1987, the service returned to premises in the West Norwich Hospital.
The former Hospital Sports Commentary Service, a separate entity, approached Hospital Radio Norwich (HRN) with a view to forming an amalgamation. As a result from 1999 all Norwich City home matches are brought to the patients by HRN’s specially trained commentators.
In September 2007 Hospital Radio Norwich moved to Aldwych House, a NHS support office in the heart of Norwich where it stayed until 2010 when it was given premises on the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital site.
Hospital Radio Norwich was honoured in 2009 with the prestigious distinction of receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
In 2010: “The longest serving members of HRN are founder member Robert Proudfoot Hon. Treasurer, Mike Sarre Hon. Chairman/Technical Engineer and Irenee Batch Hon. Secretary. All 3 have collectively clocked up an amazing 108 years of voluntary service”.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. “The station reaches patients through the Hospedia communications system on Channel 1. Patients are now able to listen to the religious service from the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital Chapel through HRN’s Channel 1”.
“A computerised music play-out service is on air when live broadcasting stops. This programme was written especially for HRN by their Chairman & Technical Engineer, Mike Sarre with some 3,500 tracks of a variety of music”.
See Part 2 – Nottingham (1953) for information on the sports commentary service.
14.1 Nottingham Hospital Radio (1974)
Nottingham Hospital Radio, then called Radio City, started broadcasting in April 1974 from a studio in the Nottingham City Hospital.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Radio City (Hospital Broadcasting Service). The City Hospital. 18 Members. Hospitals Served: 3. Formed April 1974. Contact: Susan A Dickinson.
In 2016 Nottingham Hospitals’ Radio was broadcasting to Nottingham City Hospital, and Queen’s Medical Centre.
15.1 Nuneaton Area Hospital Broadcasting Service (1980)
Anker Radio, the working name for Nuneaton Area Hospital Broadcasting Service, started broadcasting in 1980 to the George Eliot Hospital.
“The origins of Anker Radio started back in 1976 over a cup of coffee when Terry Hancock was talking to a member of the district management team by the name of Joan Wills. In 1979, after a long period of negotiation permission was granted to set up the Nuneaton Area Hospital Broadcasting Service, which we now know as Anker Radio and the rest, as they say, is history.
After almost 13 months of fundraising, locating equipment and the conversion of a building at Orchard Street, Anker Radio went on air for the first time on the 6th of November 1980 at 7’o’clock”.
In the mid 1980s the service moved to a Portakabin on the Maternity car park at the George Eliot Hospital. “In December 1994 we moved into a shiny new studio complex on the top floor of the Maternity block and we really felt that we had at last ‘arrived’ as an integral part of the hospital”.
“It’s interesting to note that setting up the service with one studio and some very basic equipment in 1980 cost the service around fifteen thousand pounds. In 1994 when we equipped two studios with the then latest state of the art equipment we spent around twenty thousand pounds”.
“In 1999, and 2001 Anker Radio Broadcast on 107.3 FM. These were major events in Anker Radio’s history, it gave the radio station its chance to broadcast to a much wider audience, whilst not neglecting its main responsibility, to entertain the patients of the George Eliot Hospital. Only 2 years after our last broadcast on FM, which only lasted for 17 days, we are now ‘On Air’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year on 1386 AM”.
“Not only can we now reach all parts of the hospital, but also those who previously could never hear us, which includes the staff and visitors. This has only been made possible by the hard work of our members and in particular, Carol Frances, John Goodman and Chris Ward, as well as the overwhelming support of the George Eliot Hospital and the League of Friends”.
See Part 1 – Oldham (About 1933). History of the world’s second music based hospital broadcasting service.
See Part 2 – Oldham (1952) for information on the sports commentary service.
16.1 Radio Cavell Ltd (1972)
Radio Cavell started broadcasting a music service in June 1972.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Radio Cavell. The Oldham & District Hospital. 20 Members. Hospitals Served: 3. Formed June 1972. Contact: Miss J A Sheenhan.
The other two hospitals receiving the service were the Royal Oldham Hospital and Dr Kershaw’s Cottage Hospital.
“The station first started broadcasting from a cellar in the hospital. However as these premises did not provide disabled access, nor meet modern standards the station moved operations temporarily to premises within the nearby Hospital Trust headquarters”.
“In 1999 the station launched their medium wave service on 1350AM, being one of the UK’s first hospital radio stations to take advantage of the new Low Powered AM licenses”.
The service moved into new purpose designed refurbished premises on the main hospital site in 2008.
In 2016 Radio Cavell was broadcasting to the Royal Oldham Hospital through the Hospedia Headsets and on Medium Wave 1350AM
17.1 Radio Ormskirk General (1979)
Radio Ormskirk General started broadcasting from a studio in the Ormskirk & District General Hospital in 1979.
In 2016 Radio Heartbeat was broadcasting to Ormskirk & District General Hospital and the Southport General Hospital via the internet.
See Southport for further information.
18.1 TOC H Service (Circa March 1960)
The TOC H Journal of March 1960 has the following entry: “Oswestry Branch now organises a regular hospital request programme, broadcasting records with messages from home”.
In May 1963 a record request programme was started by the Shropshire Hospitals Broadcasting Committee in Shrewsbury and by 1973 a total of 13 hospitals were receiving the service, including two in Oswestry – the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Hospital and the Oswestry & District Hospital. See Shrewsbury for further information.
The service started by TOC H must therefore have ceased prior to 1973.
18.2 Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Hospital Radio (Circa 1992)
In 1992 the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Hospital Radio service was operating at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Hospital.
19.1 Voluntary Broadcasting Service (1962)
A music based service started at the Wharfedale General Hospital in Otley in 1962.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Studio located in the Wharfedale General Hospital. Name of Service: Voluntary Broadcasting Services Otley. Contact: Mrs B Naylor. 40 members. Number of hospitals served: 4. Start date: 1964.
A letter in newspaper in December 2002 read: “Through your columns I would like to pay tribute and thank the many members, past and present, who have served the Voluntary Broadcasting Service at Wharfedale General Hospital over the years since its beginnings in 1962.
Sadly, amidst all the furore of the new hospital, the organisation of which I have been proud to serve for over 20 years is having to disband as there is no room for us in the new building – not even a stable for us at the back. It is ironic that this is to happen to us in this our 40th year but I would like to say how much we have appreciated the support, both in manpower and financially, we have been given by many individuals and groups. Without this we would not have been able to exist as long as we have.
Over the years members have given of their time each evening of the week and at weekends in providing this service and I know have enjoyed it as much as I know those who have listened to us have. Obviously we would like to have carried on but this was not possible due to lack of space but we have been able to pass most of our equipment to Chapel Allerton Hospital.
The number of people who have played a part in VBS are too numerous to mention but I would single out June Barley, our secretary who has given invaluable service for more than 30 years and on behalf of us all I say a big thank you to her”.
See Part 2 – Oxford (1967) for information on the sports commentary service.
20.1 Radio Cherwell (1967)
In the mid 1960s twelve people, predominantly Post Office Telephones staff, sought to start a hospital radio service in Oxford. Their scheme was approved by the Oxford Regional Hospital Board and the United Oxford Hospitals.
On 30 September 1967 Oxford’s Hospitals Broadcasting Association (OHBA) was officially opened by the chairman of the United Oxford Hospitals Board of Governors, Mr. Eric Towler. The studio was an old Nissen hut based on the Churchill Hospital (CH) site and programmes consisted of Record Requests and live commentaries of Oxford United’s home matches.
The move to the portakabin, which took place in Easter 1974, saw the further extension of programmes to four nights a week and the sharing of the studios with the Oxford group of the Talking News for the Blind. The hospitals being served by the late 1970s were the Radcliffe Infirmary and Eye Hospital, the Churchill, the John Radcliffe Maternity and the John Radcliffe II.
A newspaper reporting on ten years of broadcasting in Oxford stated: “It was soon obvious they were on the right wavelength. Patients enjoyed the exclusive service and responded enthusiastically to the early record request shows. Cheery messages began bouncing around the hospitals by way of the radio studio – housed, if that is the word, in an old brick latrine at one of the more outlying corners of the Churchill site. Equipment was primitive and broadcasts were confined to the Churchill and Nuffield hospitals – once, and then twice a week.
But the association has come a long way since then. It now has 60 members, of which at least 29 are actively involved either on the technical side or as interviewers, disc jockeys and secretaries. With broadcasts four days a week to five separate hospitals, there is a lot more work involved. The studio meanwhile has moved out of the latrine into a smart Portakabin provided by the health authority. It is equipped with a new control desk and an array of sophisticated recording equipment”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: The Studio, Churchill Hospital. Name of Service: Oxford Hospitals Broadcasting Association. Contacts: Mr M Bennett and Miss L Rawlings.
On 1 April 1978 the service was re-named “Radio Cherwell”.
Eventually the portakabin studios began to show signs of age. “One member walking in one evening fell through the floor. The General Manager of the hospital was most helpful and searched for new permanent premises. These were eventually found in what had been the rest room in the Blood Transfusion Unit”.
In March 1982, after being off-air for two months whilst the new studio was being prepared, the service resumed broadcasting.
In 1990 Peta Simmons of Radio Cherwell wrote: “At present we broadcast 22.5 hours per week, with repeats making up a further 6 hours. Membership is still about 60. Long serving members are Mick Alsworth (23yrs), Jim Hall (23yrs), Gerry Cadle (21yrs) of the football commentary service, Dave Weaver, the original Chief Engineer and now honorary member (23 yrs), and on the ‘music’ side Richard & Peta Simmons (20yrs) and Neil & Marion Stockton (18yrs). In early 1978 a competition was run to find a less cumbersome name than Oxford Hospitals Broadcasting Association. The winning choice was Radio Cherwell”.
In 2016 the service reported “This year sees the launch of Radio Cherwell Internet streaming linking patients in hospital with friends and family throughout the world via the web. Current plans include a portable radio studio for the Children’s Hospital and the introduction of alternative ways of hearing Radio Cherwell within the hospitals”.
In 2016 Radio Cherwell was broadcasting to the Churchill and John Radcliffe Hospitals.
21.1 Life Care Radio (2014)
Life Care Radio was established in 2014. “We aim to provide radio entertainment to people who are in residential, nursing or hospice care across the Torbay and South Devon area”.
In early 2016: “The radio service is currently provided on CDs to ten homes in the Torbay and South Devon area and it is the charity’s aim to switch to broadcast shows by the end of the year, allowing more residential and nursing homes to take up the service if they wish”.
“Torbay-based Life Care Radio is currently run by a small team of half-a-dozen volunteers, who produce the radio programme onto CDs from a room in Mark and Cathie Burgess’s home in Paignton. At the moment the group distributes its discs to care homes mainly in Brixham and Ivybridge”.
See Totness for details about Life Care Radio operating at the Totnes Community Hospital using the studio that used to be used by the TLF Radio hospital radio service that closed in about 2003.
22.1 City Hospital Radio (1973)
A service, then called Radio 5, started broadcasting to the Peterborough District Hospital in February 1973.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Radio Five. Peterborough District Hospital. 39 members. Hospitals Served: 1. Date Formed: Feb ’73. Sport: Peterborough United. Contact: Chas Lee.
In the early 1990’s, following the introduction of BBC’s Radio 5 service, the service was renamed Radio 590. F
“Radio 590 continued until 2012 when it was felt the station needed a new name to go with its brand new studio within the regions new Super Hospital and so Radio 590 became City Hospital Radio”.
In 2016 City Hospital Radio was broadcasting to the Peterborough District Hospital.
In the 1952 the TOC H organisation commenced broadcasting through the GPO phone network to nine city hospitals on Saturday afternoons when Plymouth Argyle were playing at home.
See Part 2. Plymouth for the early history of the sports commentary service.
23.1 Hospital Radio Plymouth (1967)
“In the 1950′s the Toc – H organisation commenced broadcasting through the GPO phone network to the nine city hospitals on Saturday afternoons when Plymouth Argyle were playing at home”.
Then in 1967, the Plymouth Lions Club commenced a programme of music called ‘Disc Date’ every other Wednesday evening carrying on as long as requests lasted for Mount Gould hospital.
The next stage was in 1969 when Jimmie Constable, Tom Hepple and Joe Pengelly, a professional broadcaster working for the BBC, teamed up to produce a weekly show. This proved so popular that it was decided to secure bigger premises.
In late 1969, 44 New Street on the Barbican became the first permanent home for the station that now became known as Hospital Radio Plymouth. On the 2nd October 1969 the then Lord Mayor Alderman George Creber officially opened the studio.
The first programmes were transmitted on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and went to all the city’s hospitals. Currently we broadcast live from 2pm – Midnight throughout the week, and from 8am – 10pm at weekends. Listeners can tune in outside these hours though, and enjoy an eclectic mix of classic hits.
Premises! When we outgrew 44 New Street the next move was to the Ladies’ Hospital at Lockyer Street in March 1973. This venue lasted until the late 1970′s when a move was made to the basement of a property in Nelson Gardens, Stoke owned by the Trust. From there a move was made to Greenbank Hospital and then in 1994 we went across the road to Freedom Fields.
In 1998 we re-located to Derriford Hospital and this has been our home ever since. Ten years at Derriford has been aptly celebrated by us becoming HBA Station of The Year 2008”.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Hospital Radio Plymouth. Lockyer Street Hospital. 30 members. Contact: Susan Hunt.
In 2016 Hospital Radio Plymouth was broadcasting from the “Studio Centre” at the Derriford Hospital.
24.1 Ackton Hospital Radio (1963)
George Holt, who was present at the first broadcast, wrote in 1986: “The Radio Ackton Broadcasting Service began way back in 1963 doing a record request programme from the Old Porters Lodge at Ackton Hospital, broadcasting to Ackton, Castleford and Pontefract Hospitals”.
The hospitals that received the first broadcast were the Pontefract General Infirmary, the Castleford Hospital and the Ackton Hospital in Pontefract – all three still receiving the service in 1992.
George added: “It was started by the Featherstone Hospital Comforts Fund, of which I am the Treasurer and have been a member for the past 25 years. Later we started the Castleford, Pontefract and Featherstone Commentary Association, of which I am now the Chairman, bringing in more people to help raise the money needed to keep it going. Round about 1974 we started doing live commentaries from Featherstone Rovers and Castleford rugby grounds. I still do the commentaries from the Rovers ground but, with the high cost of the land lines, we now record these and play it back later”.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Studio located in the Ackton Hospital, Pontefract. Name of Service: Ackton Hospital Radio. Contact: George Neil. Manager: C Millard. 12 members. Number of hospitals served: 3.
In 1992 the service was broadcasting 40 hours per week and had a membership of 40. The service was still being received in the Pontefract General Infirmary (PGI), the Castleford Hospital and the Ackton Hospital in Pontefract.
When the Ackton Hospital closed in 1993 broadcasting continued from a purpose built studio at the Pontefract General Infirmary, still using the name Radio Ackton.
See Part 2. Portsmouth (1951) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
25.1 Portsmouth Hospital Broadcasting Association (1970)
The Portsmouth Hospital Broadcasting Association started broadcasting from a studio in St Mary’s Hospital in April 1970.
During the early 1970s, In addition to St Mary’s Hospital, the service was also relayed to the St James’ Hospital, Portsmouth Royal, Jubilee Home for the Blind, Eye & Ear Hospital and the Haslar Royal Infirmary.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Portsmouth Hospital Broadcasting Association. PHB Studios: St Mary’s Hospital. 40 members. Hospitals Served: 5. Formed April 70. Contact: Mrs Joan Rea.
During the 1970s the service also started broadcasting to the Queen Alexandria Hospital in Cosham.
Due to severe water damage the studio complex at St Mary’s Hospital had to close and the service moved to new studios in the Queen Alexandria Hospital.
In 2004 the service had to leave the Queen Alexandria Hospital due to the imminent rebuilding of the Queen Alexandria into a “Super Hospital” and relocate back to St. Mary’s Hospital.
“The hospital helped our move to set up another studio within its complex but because of technical difficulties we were off air for the longest time in our history. The reason we were eventually able to open up in Feb 2005 was down to a lot of hard work by our members and again the help from the authorities and friends”.
“We didn’t stay for long although St. Mary’s has again made us welcome. Due to the re-building and demolition we up-camped and returned to QA in 2010 with a brand new location – B level, a new name, QA Radio”.
In 2016, QA Radio, the working name for Portsmouth Hospital Broadcasting Association, was broadcasting to the Queen Alexandra Hospital.
See Part 2 – Portsmouth for information on the sports commentary service.
See Part 2. Preston (1951) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
26.1 Preston Hospitals Broadcasting Network (Circa 1958)
Preston Hospital Radio (Late 1990s)
In about 1952 Mr Tom Slater started to take to the Preston Royal InfIrmary tape recorded sounds that were most missed by the patients, such as a bird call, etc. It is thought that this unique request programme lasted until about the time when the football commentary service from Preston North End Football Club commenced in early 1953.
The actual start date of a music based service is in some doubt. A newspaper in April 1963 reported: “The present series of programmes grew from an idea pioneered by Mr Tom Slater”. An earlier report, in July 1962, included the statement: “Mr Wain started the broadcasts four years ago. At present the broadcast is sent out from a room in Preston Royal Infirmary, but this is available for only a short period. As well as the many programme requests he receives, Mr Wain has a regular fan mail averaging a dozen letters a week”.
Some of the early members were Peter Waine, David Greenhaugh, Bernard Ainsworth, Stan Eccles, Beatrice Place, Jim Potts, Margaret Brown and Barbara Fitzgerald (Stan, Beatrice and Syd still members over 30 years later). Beatrice reported in 1991: I cannot recall the actual date of the first broadcast, but in the 1950’s Peter Waine started to broadcast to patients. The broadcast was from a medical lecture room in the Preston Royal InfIrmary. The microphone, record deck and the rest of equipment being carried in by the broadcasting staff.
Peter was the only one allowed to broadcast apart from Jim Potts who read the news and gave a ‘Lancs Monologue’ spot (about ten minutes). The rest of the programme consisted of patients requests, which were collected by Barbara Fitzgerald, Margaret Brown and myself”. The programme was broadcast once a week, on Sunday mornings. By 1962 broadcasts were also taking place on Sunday evenings.
By February 1963 four churches, Preston Parish, English Martyrs, Lancaster Road Congregational and Lune Street Methodist, had agreed to allow specially adapted services to be broadcast through the Preston Hospitals Broadcasting Network. Peter Wain said at the time: “The authorities at each church are really enthusiastic. They offer full cooperation. The churches and the Hospital’s Welfare Society are sharing the cost of the rental of GPO lines. The Welfare Society has also put up money for buying an outside broadcasting unit, which will be used for church services and other broadcasts”.
By April 1963 Peter Wain, with a staff of eight to help him, had extended the service to eleven hospitals in Preston and Chorley. A newspaper reported on 26th April 1963: “Programmes, from the broadcasting station, go out to local hospitals twice a week. On Saturday the days commentaries on football matches either from Preston North End or further afield are transmitted to patients’ bedsides.
On Sunday, three hours of broadcasting includes record requests, the week’s news and from last Sunday, a church service. The headquarters and studios of the service are at the top of a three-storey building in Lancaster Road, Preston”. Beatrice added: “After the Preston Royal InfIrmary we went to Lancaster Road. Stan Eccles working for Rediffusion managed to acquire the premises which was an old flat on top of the offIces. It was an old derelict building, but it served the purpose of housing the equipment without dismantling it every week. In the early 1960s we did outside broadcasts, ‘Rememberance Day’, from the Cenotaph, etc”.
The exact date of the move to the Rediffusion offices in Lancaster Road is not known. Newspaper reports indicate the date to be between July 1962 and April 1963.
The service only operated from the studios in Lancaster Road for a few years, moving to new facilities at the Deepdale Hospital. The agenda for the ‘Official opening of Broadcasting Centre at Deepdale Hospital’, dated 28th November, 1964 records: “The Mayor of Preston, Councillor J Lund, JP and the Mayor of Chorley, Councillor I Sellers, JP, will address the guests. The guests will proceed to the new broadcasting centre in the grounds of Deepdale Hospital. Mr Holden, JP, Chairman of Preston & Chorley Hospital Management Committee, will speak on the hospitals’ broadcasting service and formally declare open the new centre”.
A newspaper reported on the opening of the new 2,000 broadcasting centre at Preston: “Councellor Holden, who expressed the pleasure of the committee, the patients, and the medical staff at the broadcasting service operated by Preston and Chorley Hospital Welfare Societies, said the first seeds were sown on January 1st, 1953, when the first hospital broadcast relay – of the Preston North End v Blackpool football match – was made. He spoke of the way it had grown to include record requests, church services and Leyland Motors ballroom relays. Introduced by the Chairman of Preston Hospitals Welfare Society, Mr J Billington, Councellor Holden spoke from the Handicapped Persons’ Social Centre and the ceremony was relayed to patients over the hospital network”.
In September, 1968, with the opening of a hospital broadcasting service in Chorley, the link to Chorley was disconnected.
After the closure of Deepdale Hospital the service moved to accommodation in Sharoe Green Hospital, when Mr Torn Finney (Preston North End’s most famous player), the then Chairman of the Preston Health Authority, made the official opening on 13th August 1985.
In 1991 the broadcasting team consisted of Syd Kayley, Janet Richardson, Fred Eaton, Edith & Dennis Wright, Michael Zellar, Neil Adams and Mark Waite. It was broadcasting record requests on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday (and a Sunday church service) to the Sharoe Green Hospital and the new Royal Preston Hospital.
“Originally run by the Hospital Welfare Society, changing to the Friends of the Hospital, and. on their closure, Preston Hospital Radio was born in the late 1990’s”.
“A coupling with Chorley hospital radio for approx 5 years was de-coupled in November 2014, and Preston Hospital Radio now broadcasts through to the beds of Royal Preston Hospital and since the early months on 2015 online as well”.
In 2016 Preston Hospital Radio was broadcasting to the Royal Preston Hospital.
27.1 Radio Rainhill (1973)
Radio Redhill started broadcasting to the Redhill Hospital in January 1973.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Radio Rainhill. Rainhill Hospital. 10 members. Hospitals served: 1. Date formed: Jan 73. Contact: Margaret Fairclough.
27.2 Radio Whiston (Pre 1978)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Radio Whiston. Whiston Hospital. Contact: John Fairclough.
Note: Contact name for Radio Rainhill was also Fairclough (Margaret).
See Part 2 – Reading (1957) for information on the sports commentary service.
28.1 Hospital Radio Reading (1962)
The first record request programme to patients in hospitals in Reading took place early in 1962 and was presented by Capt. Les Warth (who had started the football commentary service five years previously). Records were borrowed from a shop called Hickie & Hickies and the programme was broadcast every Sunday morning, just half an hour per week, to patients in the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals.
The broadcasts took place in the basement of the Reading Standard offices. Before each broadcast could be received it was necessary to ensure that a change over switch was operated at each hospital to select the hospital broadcasting channel. This was usually done by a phone call to the duty boilerman. In those days the patients received the service on pillow-phones (which consisted of a type of single earpiece that was housed in a 6″ x 6″ padded bag and was used by placing it on the pillow and resting an ear upon it).
In 1965 accommodation that had been given by the Reading Football Club in 1964 was completed and the service had its first studio, underneath the West Terraces within the club ground. This was opened on 27 September 1965 by the late Eric Robinson. The service was then able to extend the programmes and broadcast five evenings per week. By this time the number of members had risen to about fifteen.
‘Hospital Radio Reading’ enjoyed the hospitality of the football club for 13 years. Capt. Les Warth (Founder and Chairman) of the service wrote: “I ask myself what would we have done without them”. During this period it was decided to split the accommodation into three and have two control rooms or studios, and a record library. When this was completed and a new control desk installed the redesigned, the complex was opened by Mike Gray of Southern Television on 28 March 26 1974.
During 1975 the Peppard and Henley Townland Hospitals were added to the network.
In 1976 it was realised that the service had outgrown the accommodation – with the more sophisticated programmes the service was trying to provide, an interview room was needed – the record library was quickly outgrowing the space available and the membership had grown to around 50. Negotiations started with the Health Authorities and many venues were offered, eventually the service relocated to purpose built studios to Battle Hospital.
The new complex was opened on 20 January 1978. A small second hand caravan was purchased in 1980 and with a small PA system the service was able to expand its public relations services, appearing at fetes, fun runs, the Reading marathon etc.
During 1979 the link to the Heilley Hospital ceased. The local League of Friends unable to bear the increasing cost of sponsoring the landline link. A year later the Peppard Hospital closed.
In March 1981, the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Marion Absolom open the line from the Hexigan Theatre to the studio, enabling the service to broadcast live shows from the theatre. By 1982 the membership had risen to 60 and the service was broadcasting 41 per week, 26 of which were during the weekend.
On 3 November of that year Les wrote to the Chairman of NAHBO: “With reference to Special Service Awards to individuals with 15 years or more continuous service, I submit the following: Frank Ribbons, Jennifer Gibbons, Ian Savin, Arthur Bint, and myself (25 years). As we are holding a 25th Anniversary Party on the 25th November would it be possible to have these awards sent to me for presentation on that evening by our patron The Mayor of Reading?
By 1990, with the closure of the Park and Blagrave Hospitals, two hospitals were receiving the service, the Battle and Royal Berkshire. An induction loop system was installed in the Battle Hospital, enabling the patients to receive the service on their own radios – tuned to 945 kHz. This facility was opened on 27 February 1990, by Mike Gray of TVS.
The induction loop aerials were de-energised in July 2005, when in-patients had transferred from Battle Hospital to the new Battle block at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
In 2005 Hospital Radio Reading invested in a brand new studio comprising the usual mixers and players together with pentium computer that enabled a presenter to orchestrate a programme at the drag of a mouse. The following year the service was broadcasting from its new studio at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
In the summer of 2013 internet streaming was introduced via the station’s website.
29.1 Radio Redhill (1974)
Radio Redhill started broadcasting to the patients of Redhill General Hospital on Christmas Day 1974. The founder members were Les Fowler his son Andrew.
“The second broadcast and the start of regular programmes was in February 1975. The studio in those early days was on top of a filing cabinet in the Chapel vestry and the station boasted six members. The equipment consisted of a couple of tape decks, a microphone and a four channel mixer.
At the latter end of 1976 thieves broke in and stole vital equipment but show-business magnate Lord Grade heard about it and stepped in to help. Radio Redhill stayed in the chapel vestry for five years until Loctite UK Ltd donated their demonstration caravan to the station in the Autumn of 1980. Although this cost several thousand pounds to equip, it was big enough to create two small studios inside.
When phase one of the then new East Surrey Hospital opened a few years later, Radio Redhill acquired some space on the first floor in which to build a studio. Broadcasting from both hospitals had begun. The new studio was opened by the late Jean Metcalfe on February 16th 1985.
In 1991 broadcasting to the Redhill General Hospital ceased with the closure of the hospital.
On 1 July 2000 the service started broadcasting on 1287AM Medium Wave. Two years later, in 2002, a brand new studio was opened in phase two of the East Surrey Hospital.
In 2005 Radio Redhill won the Hospital Broadcasting Association’s Hospital Radio Station of the Year award..
On 30 April 2007 the service moved from 1287AM to 1431AM “meaning less interference from neighbouring and foreign stations”.
“On 1st July 2010, exactly ten years after we launched on Medium Wave, Radio Redhill started streaming live on the internet, allowing our programmes to be heard in high quality stereo for the first time”.
In 2016 Radio Redhill was broadcasting to the East Surrey Hospital.
30.1 Oldchurch Hospital Radio (Start Date Required)
A service called Radio Rush Green, then renamed Radio 174 (named after the bus route that went to the hospital) and finally Oldchurch Hospital Radio provided a service to the Oldchurch Hospital in Romford.
The service merged with Harold Wood in 2002 to form Bedrock Radio.
In 2006 the Oldchurch Hospital closed.
30.2 Bedrock Radio (2002)
Bedrock Radio was formed on 22 June 2002 as a result of the merger of Oldchurch Hospital Radio and Harold Wood Hospital Radio. See London: Havering – Harold Wood Radio for details.
The newly formed Bedrock service used the former Oldchurch facilities, broadcasting on 846AM to the Oldchurch Hospital and to the Harold Wood Hospital via a direct link broadcasting on channels one and two.
The first programmes were broadcast on 1 December 2002 and the station was called Bedrock AM.
In 2006 broadcasting to the Oldchurch and Harold Wood hospitals ceased when the newly built Queen’s Hospital opened. The Hospital Trust provided the service three rooms in the Queen’s Hospital “giving us a studio, office & storeroom in the aptly named Hospital Radio Corridor”.
“During the studio construction, Bedrock were being plugged into the new bedside TV systems, run by Premier Telesolutions, with Hospital Radio being Channel One as part of the FREE entertainment offered. By 2009 the studio & Premier were operational and programmes commenced broadcasting at Queen’s Hospital”.
“To celebrate our new studios, once we were broadcasting in our new home at Queen’s, our studio was officially opened by HRH Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla. A whole host of volunteers past & present where invited to celebrate the re-launch Bedrock. In honour of our royal opening, the studio has been named “The Cornwall Suite“.
“Bedrock wasn’t fully 24/7 by the time we came back on-air in 2009, but soon invested in play-out software that got us up & running. We had a lot of work to rebuild our name from the three years off-air. A new jingle package was needed as Bedrock dropped the AM suffix and needed to re-identify ourselves with our commitment to patient entertainment”.
In 2016 Bedrock Radio was broadcasting to the Queen’s Hospital in Romford.
See Part 2 – Rotherham (1952) for information on the sports commentary service.
31.1 Radio Nightingale (1978)
Radio Nightingale started broadcasting from a studio in the ne Rotherham District General Hospital on 4 June 1978. “The man behind the idea was David Smith”.
“At one of the first meetings of the original committee the name of the service was high on the agenda. Originally running under the official title of Rotherham Hospitals Radio Service this meeting chose a name which was less of a mouthful! The station was not named after Florence Nightingale as many immediately presume, but in memory of Elizabeth Nightingale who had donated the then princely sum of £1,000 to the Moorgate Hospital to set up a radio station following her hospital stay. The transfer of hospital services to Rotherham District General Hospital took place before the station was off the ground”.
A plea for volunteers was placed in the Rotherham Advertiser in January 1978.
“After just three months of training, the original Nightingale crew went on air on 4 June 1978 (the original plan had been for the 31st of May, only a minor technical hiccup of the mixing desk not arriving held up proceedings) with Dave Marriott the first Radio Nightingale presenter at 7pm”.
“Originally broadcasts were restricted to three evenings a week and Sunday mornings, six years later the schedule was expanded to broadcasting a few hours every day, it was a further fourteen years before broadcasting was extended to all day, every day”.
“At first the broadcasts were only to the patients of the Rotherham District General Hospital by way of the bedside headset units. A Post Office Landline was hired in 1981 to allow the patients of the Doncaster Gate Hospital to receive Radio Nightingale programmes as well. A second landline, to the Montague Hospital in Mexborough was installed in 1983, both remaining in action until the closure of the hospitals to in-patients”.
“In the early 1990’s members raised £25,000 for the installation of an inductive loop system which allows Radio Nightingale programmes to be received on a standard transistor radio on the frequency of 945mw. In July 1998 the Radio Authority, now OFCOM, announced the provision of low powered freely radiating transmission licences to all single site radio stations. Radio Nightingale was granted one of these licences on the frequency of 1350mw with broadcasts beginning on May 11th 1999”.
“One year later the Patientline (now Hospedia) bedside entertainment units were installed at Rotherham General Hospital with Radio Nightingale joining the line-up of the free radio channels available on the system. Radio Nightingale launched broadcasting online on June 2nd 2013 to mark the 35th anniversary of the station”.
In 2016 Radio Nightingale was broadcasting on 945 and 1350MW, Hospedia and Online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
32.1 Rugby Hospital Radio (1972)
Rugby Hospital Radio started providing a service to the Hospital of St. Cross in 1972.
“Our founding was in 1972 when a group of teenagers from a Rugby youth club began broadcasting to patients in St Cross. Initially, they were only able to broadcast for a couple of nights a week using disco equipment, which they had to set up and take down each time”.
“The broadcasting service steadily grew and in 1981 the hospital allowed the station to use a room in the roof space of the Victorian building as a permanent studio. Also around this time, Rugby Hospital Radio became an organisation in its own right and secured registered charity status”.
“In 2010 we moved out of the attic to a new location on the hospital site, which has now been converted into an impressive studio, and in 2012 we celebrated our 40th anniversary”.
“In early 2013 we improved our online presence by updating this website and moving to Facebook and on Twitter. Late in 2014 we added the ability for listeners to hear podcasts of selected programs, taking the station into the broader community for the first time”.
In 2016 Rugby Hospital Radio was broadcasting from a studio in the Hospital of St. Cross.
33.1 Radio Halton (1986)
Radio Halton began broadcasting in 1986 to the Halton General Hospital.
In 2016: “Radio Halton provides a music and information service to the patients, staff and visitors of Halton General Hospital in Runcorn, Cheshire”.