1.1 Radio Odstock (1953)
Radio Odstock started broadcasting to the Salisbury District Hospital in 1953.
“It was founded by a local journalist to broadcast football updates and to play music to patients”.
“Originally broadcast from the infamous ‘broom cupboard’, with the records stored in a caravan, we moved into a purpose build studios in 1977. These were opened by Bill Oddie”.
“Throughout the 60’s and 70’s the driving force of Radio Odstock was Tisbury man Paul Mullins, and a strong association with Carousel Records in nearby Amesbury allowed a large collection of vinyl records to be built up”.
“Come 2001 and the old bedside radio’s were replaced by modern technology which has allowed Radio Odstock to become a 24hour radio station. In 2013 the 60th anniversary of the station was celebrated with a 3-day FM broadcast covering the Salisbury area”.
In 2016 Radio Odstock was broadcasting from its purpose built studios to the Salisbury District Hospital.
2.1 Scarborough Hospital Broadcasting Service (1968)
Scarborough Hospitals Broadcasting Service commenced on 5 December 1968. It arose, at the request of the hospital authorities, out of the Scarborough Tape Recording Club.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Scarborough Hospital Broadcasting Committee, General Hospital. 12 members. Serving 2 hospitals. Contact: Major C J Wilson MBE. Date formed: December 1968.
From November 1976, until it closed in 1985, a service was provided to the St Thomas Hospital. An article in NAHBO’s ‘Hospital Radio News’ of September 1977 read: “Scarborough HBS have extended their service to cover a third hospital, St Thomas’ which is right on the sea-front. Owing to difficulties in obtaining a Post Office line, a separate studio was installed. As the service has to share accommodation the equipment was built into a large lockable cabinet which also houses the record library.
The new service was opened on 24 November 1976 by Lady Downe and the Mayor of Scarborough, Cllr T Young, attended the opening ceremony. The new studio was fInanced by donations and the proceeds of two concerts organised by a local Methodist Choir”. By the mid 1980s it is thought that the service was broadcasting to the Scarborough Hospital and the Cross Lane Hospital four nights per week.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Scarborough Hospital Broadcasting Committee, the Studio, General Hospital. Contact: Major C J Wilson.
See Part 2. Scunthorpe (1951) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
3.1 Scunthorpe Hospitals Broadcasting Organisation (1960).
On 28 April, 1960, a request programme for patients in the local hospitals was started by the Hospital League of Friends. The programme, which was broadcast every Thursday evening, started at 8pm and continued until all the requests had been read out and all the records had been played. Sometimes this would last an hour, sometimes until about ten o’clock, depending on the number of requests collected between about 6pm that evening and the starting time of the programme. Arthur Sharp, a member of the League of Friends, was responsible for running the request programme and he managed to recruit four or five volunteers to collect the requests from the wards and then present the programme.
Prior to this request programme the only hospital broadcast available to the patients in Scunthorpe was a commentary on the football match at the Old Show Ground, the home of Scunthorpe Football Club. It was a service that had started within a few weeks of the first sports commentary service in UK that had started in October 1951 in Portsmouth. Initially the Scunthorpe commentary service was recorded and played back within the next few days to the patients in the various wards with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. By late 1952 or early 1953 a live commentary services was being relayed to the Scunthorpe General Hospital. Later the commentary service was extended to include the Maternity Home in Brumby Wood Lane, the Brumby Hospital and the Glandford Hospital in Brigg.
An article written in 1982 read: “Award winning Scunthorpe Hospitals Broadcasting Organisation has come a long way since presenters played 78s on a solitary deck in a noisy false roof, mockingly called Penthouse Suite, with listeners treated to the clanking of a nearby lift shaft throughout the programme”.
Alan Ellis wrote: “When I joined the Record Request team in the early sixties we operated each Thursday from a small room directly across the corridor from the Roadley (Children’s) ward. It was quite normal to share this area with anxious parents who had just brought their children into the hospital. The other side of our room had an opening into a kitchen and nurses were constantly coming and going during our hour on the air”.
In 1986 Ezra Ellis recalled: “Two of those volunteers were the late Ray Prigmore and Alan Ellis, who still broadcasts regularly on Friday evenings (Alan and I are not related). In fact Alan is our longest serving member, and also our Vice Chairman. I joined in 1967, when a member of the organisation, Rod Turner, asked if I could take over from him on the broadcasting team. There were four presenters, so we each did a programme once a month. At this time we had only one record deck and about 50 records. One of the hospital electricians was there in order to put the records on, whilst we presenters read out the request message. Our once a week request programmes continued up to 1977 when Stan Aistrope, a member of the League of Friends, was given permission by the League, to attend the Annual Conference of NAHBO. When he, and his wife, arrived back from the conference they told us that we were miles behind other areas who hadn’t been broadcasting for as long as we had”.
Ezra added: “Stan put an article in the local evening paper inviting anyone who was interested in hospital broadcasting to attend a meeting. The meeting was held in November, 1977 (17 people turned up) and it was decided that we would require at least £4,000 to build and equip a studio, with a view to broadcasting every night of the week (this initial estimate proved to be quite a long way short of what was eventually needed). Stan had already applied to the Julian Melchett Trust Fund and was granted £1,000, which was to be used in setting up a purpose built broadcasting studio within the hospital grounds. The G.P.O were contacted to advise on what was required to broadcast to the three other hospitals in the area (the Maternity Home in Brumby Wood Lane, the Brumby Hospital and the Glanford Hospital in Brigg). Equipment was duly installed”.
On 18th March, 1979, the service went ON AIR from the new studios in the General Hospital with a one hour special programme which went out as a simultaneous live broadcast on BBC Radio Humberside.
Phil Moore, Chairman/Station Manager wrote in 1985: “In May, 1981, a decision was taken to split from the parent body of the League of Friends and form the present service called Scunthorpe Hospitals Broadcasting Organisation. 1983 saw us become a registered charity. We now broadcast 7 days per week, with a membership of 42 and are in the process of re-equipping our studios with a new mixer”.
By 1990 the service had fully equipped two broadcasting studios.
In 2016 Scunthorpe Hospital Radio, the working name for the Scunthorpe Hospitals Broadcasting Organisation, was being broadcast to the Scunthorpe General Hospital.
See Part 2. Sheffield (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
4.1 Hospital Broadcasting Sheffield (1976)
In the mid 1970s a few members of the public started going round the wards with some records and a record player, playing requests for patients. In 1976 a hospital radio service started when “some volunteers started broadcasting from a small room at the Northern General Hospital, just off what is now the Vickers corridor”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Hospital Broadcasting Sheffield. Northern General Hospital. Contact: Mr G Hurst.
“In 1979 a derelict hayloft at Lodge Moor Hospital was made available by the Health Authority. This was stripped, renovated and refitted by the volunteer members of Northern Radio in their own time, to give the station a reception, technical room, broadcast studio, record library, office and kitchen. With the start of the Lodge Moor service, Northern Radio served 7 hospitals”.
“In the late 1980’s sweeping hospital rationalisations started, with King Edwards being closed quickly and Nether Edge being wound down. Lodge Moor hospital was also marked for closure, and Northern Radio again started to search for a new home.
After several false starts, the Royal Hallamshire Hospital offered a former store room at the top of the hospital. This was refurbished by the hospital in early 1998 and then equipped by Northern Radio, to give a reception, record library and main studio”.
With the move to the new premises, Northern Radio decided to change its name to reflect its city-wide service, to become Hospital Broadcasting Sheffield.
“We also transmit at the Northern General Hospital on 1431 AM from our own transmitter”.
In 2016 Sheffield Hospital Radio, the working name for Hospital Broadcasting Sheffield, was broadcasting to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and the Northern General Hospital.
4.2 Crystal Radio (1984)
In 1984 several members of Northern Radio moved and set up Crystal Radio, based at Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital.
Wayne Parkes wrote in December 2012: “The station was the idea of Laurance Newman and under his guidance the charity was a great success training up young presenters and technicians who gave their time and talent free to the hospital radio station”.
In 1991 the charity began broadcasting Chrystal TV. See Part 4 – TV Services – Sheffield for further information.
“Ex presenters included Richard McCourt, Anthony ***, Chris Darlow, Jon Holling and many more who progressed into radio and television broadcasting”.
“The charity closed down in the 2005/6 due to funding (all income was based on donations) and a lot of broadcasting history and memories went with it”.
- Shoreham by Sea
5.1 Seaside Hospital Radio (1972)
Radio Southlands, the working name for the Southlands Hospital Broadcasting Service, started broadcasting to the Southland Hospital on 24 September 1972.
“The first studio was based in a disused butcher’s store in the hospital grounds. By July 1972, the studios were fully operational and so the presenters began practising to ensure they were ready for the inauguration. The first show was broadcast on Sunday, September 24th 1972 and the first tune played was “Gentle on My Mind” sung by Dean Martin”.
“By 1980 the station was getting set to start broadcasting from its brand new studios within the main newly constructed hospital building at Southlands, and in June of that year the team of volunteers welcomed popular DJ and celebrity Alan Freeman (then of Capital Radio) to officially open the new home for Radio Southlands”.
In November 1984 another new studio was opened.
“A researcher from BBC Radio 4 visited the studios in March 1985 to make a programme about the role of young people in hospital radio. The feature was based entirely upon Radio Southlands and was later transmitted during the ‘programmes for schools’ slot”.
In 1987 the station became an officially registered charity, number 297515.
“In 1988 the decision was taken to discontinue the use of hand-held radio units by patients. These were replaced by an induction loop system throughout the hospital on a Low-Power AM signal, and each bedside had the use of a radio provided by the station and the League of Friends of Southlands Hospital”.
“By the early 1990’s (and shortly after our 21st birthday celebrations) the station underwent some major structural changes, with 2 brand new studios and reception area. The new much larger Studio 1 was extended, whilst studio 2 took over the old storage room for the power and transmission. The old two studios were now a very large reception area and record library”.
“In late 2003 Discussions with Coastway Hospital Radio (based in Brighton) raise the possibility of Radio Southlands providing programmes to the patients, staff and visitors of Worthing Hospital, thus taking the burden off Coastway for transmission from Brighton to Worthing”.
At the Radio Southlands AGM held in February 2004, the members voted to change the name of the organisation to “Seaside Hospital Radio”, as part of the extension of broadcasting services to include Worthing Hospital.
“On Thursday 28th July 2005 at 10.35pm, Seaside Hospital Radio began broadcasting to Worthing Hospital. Patients in Worthing could now tune in to their Hospital Radio Station by the simple click of a button on their bedside entertainment system, and hear us in high quality digital sound”.
Over the weekend of March 15 and 16 2014 the service moved out of its studio in Southlands Hospital’s Harness Block, to a new purpose-built studio in the newly-constructed semi-permanent structure in the North car park.
“The move to the new studio was a mammoth task, as broadcasting had changed much since 1980 and SHR was now transmitting via computer links to Worthing Hospital as well as via radio frequencies to Southlands Hospital, so a great deal of planning was required to enable SHR to move seamlessly with the minimum of radio downtime”.
In 2016 Seaside Hospital Radio was broadcasting to the Southlands Hospital and the Worthing Hospital.
- Shotley Bridge
6.1 Radio Derwentside (1954)
When King George VI died in 1952, two weeks state mourning was observed and the radio only provided news bulletins for this period – television being very much in its infancy and not yet started in the North East of England.
At this time, Jack Padgett was an in-patient in Shotley Bridge General hospital, and two weeks of news bulletins prompted him to take steps to provide a local service for patients. On his discharge, he volunteered to set up a hospital broadcasting service – unnamed at that time. In September, 1954, with the aid of donations from the League of Friends, which purchased a record player and microphone, and 2,600 of his own records, he was able to broadcast a patients request programme (which was still running 33 years later with the same presenter). Jack was joined by Frank Wall, and with help from Jack’s family, a regular programme of requests was broadcast on Sunday, 6 – 8.30pm.
By 1956, a children’s request programme, hosted by George Robson, was added to the Sunday schedule, running from 5 – 6pm and the service continued in this vein until about 1970. The original broadcasts were made from the hospital telephone room, using an old card table and the hospital tannoy system. In 1970, a separate room was allocated (although on a shared basis) and this enabled programmes to be expanded to cover Saturday evening as well.
In September 1980 a special studio was provided and the service, managed by a management committee, registered with NAHBO under the name Radio Derwentside. The new studio allowed a rapid increase in the number of programmes and by the late 1980s the station was broadcasting five nights per week, Monday to Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday.
An item entitled “Patients Request Programmes” appeared in the League of Friends Annual Report of 1959: “Mr J Padgett at Shotley Bridge and Mr N Smith at Maiden Law Hospitals have continued their patients request programmes and in March we had the pleasure of celebrating the 100th fortnightly programmes given by Mr Padgett at Shotley Bridge Hospital”.
The item added: “At Christmas, arrangements are made, unknown to the patients, for relatives or friends whom the patients have not seen for some considerable time, to send a message and a record request. The arrangements have been so successful that requests have been received from as far afield as Canada, America, New Zealand, Malta, Gibraltar and Kenya”.
It is not known when the service provided by Mr N smith at Maiden Law ceased.
Pauline Henderson, Controller for Radio Derwentside in 1990, wrote: “I do not know of any time in the past 10 years when Maiden Law Hospital was covered. There is no studio there and no landline”. Pauline added: “We currently have approximately 25 presenters, with 35 members in total, including the management committee. We have about 600 LPs, 1,300 singles and 1,200 78rpm records; the majority of 78s belong to Mr Padgett. Only Shotley Bridge Hospital is covered by the service, which before 1980 was just called the ‘Hospital Broadcasting Service’.
On 9 October 2002 North West Durham Hospitals Broadcasting Association (Radio Derwentside) was removed from the charity register
See Part 2. Shrewsbury (1962) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
7.1 Shropshire Hospitals Broadcasting Committee (1963)
In September 1962, just five months after the start of the football commentary service from Shrewsbury Town FC, the broadcast committee decided to open a studio to deal with hospital record requests. GPO private wires were installed to a Reliance Pillowphone system at the Royal Salop Infirmary and Copthorne Hospital, both in Shrewsbury. The studio, which was in a room located in the Womens Royal Voluntary Services’s offices, facing the Royal Salop, was equipped with two turntables and about thirty records.
On 20 May 1963 the service started broadcasting its record request programme.
Frank Leith wrote in 1992: “The first programme, which incorporated an official opening by the Chairman of the Group Hospital Management Committee, was carried out by a Mr George Cooper who owned an Electrical Engineering business in Shrewsbury. In the studio with him was myself as Secretary, Mr Frank Davies Treasurer, and the Chairman of the Hospital Broadcasting Committee, Dr Humphrey Foy. We were the founder members of the committee. A rota was established after the first programme.
We called ourselves ‘Studio Presenter’. The presenters were Mr Frank Davies, Sister Pat Cowling, Sister Kath Gay, Sister Kay Worthington, Sister Helen Edwards, Mr Frank Leith, Mr Fred Pyatt and Mr L Tudor Owen, a Director and President of Shrewsbury Town Football Club. Mr R Tanswell and Sister Evison later joined the rota. We operated up to December 1963 two evenings a week, two and half hours each programme, and three hours every Sunday morning. We increased the hours in 1964“.
By 1964 the studio had moved to the Copthorne Hospital and operated in an old army hut, where it remained until 1983.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Studio – Copthorne Hospital. Number of members – 30. Number of hospitals served – 15. Contact – Mr F W Leath JP.
A total of 15 hospitals were connected to the Shropshire Hospitals Broadcasting Association by 1975, becoming one of the widest spread services to have existed, reaching as far afield as Ludlow.
With continuous rebuilding taking place (a new hospital was built on the Copthorne site in 1977) a purpose built studio was provided in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 1983 with up to date equipment supplied by the Shropshire Health Authority and Patients Aid Association. On 20 May 1983, the studio was officially opened by Ken Dodd.
Frank Leath, the remaining founder member, wrote in 1986: “The studio broadcasts 1.5 hours per day Tuesday to Friday, Saturday when there are football matches and 2 hours on Sunday. There are also special event programmes. Frank Davies joined the Committee in April 1962 and was Treasurer until March 1986. Sister Kathleen Gay, Dick Tanswell, Fred Pyatt, Edith Pow, the then Sister Pat Cowling (now Mrs Davies) have been members of the Association since 1962. Twenty five members serve the Association”.
Faced with a landline rental bill of over £4,000 the Shropshire Hospitals Broadcasting Association ceased operating in September 1991.
8.1 Hospital Radio Rauceby (Pre 1978)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Hospital Radio Rauceby. Rauceby Hospital. Contact – Mrs S Parns.
The main hospital building was closed in 1998.
9.1 Slough Hospital Radio Network/Radio Wexham (1967)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Slough Hospital Radio Network. Wexham Park Hospital. Contact – Mr S Bland.
Radio Wexham, a subsidiary of Slough Hospitals Radio Network, was established in 1967 and broadcasts to Wexham Park Hospital.
See Part 2. Southampton (1952) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
10.1 Southampton Hospital Broadcasting Association (1963)
In September 1962 a young man named John Stranger was a patient in the Royal South Hants Hospital. One Saturday he wondered why only football commentary was available to the patients and on leaving the hospital he became determined to do something to enlarge the service.
The TOC H Journal of January 1963 recorded: “Once again a new group of young folk is starting to build up in Southampton. They meet in a room over the garage at Mark V. Their first jobs are re-decorating the room, collecting and repairing toys for Christmas, and going into the possibilities of starting up a Record Request Programme for the local hospitals”. In addition to John (who remained a member until about 1978), the original members were Leslie Sullivan, Ken Flood and Geoff Allcock, the chief engineer.
By the 17 April 1963 the first pre-recorded record request programme was ready to be broadcast. This went out from Rediffusion House, on tape, between 5pm and 6pm to the Royal South Hants Hospital – the service at this time being simply named “TOC H Requests”.
In 1964 another record request programme was added, and by June of that year the programmes were being taped in a radio hut belonging to Geoff Allcock. However, it soon became obvious that a studio was required. The TOC H hostel in Bassett included some cellars which, with considerable excavation and adaptation, could be turned into a presentable studio. Work began in late 1964 and continued for nearly 17 months.
“Programmes were recorded until 2nd January 1966 with the first live transmissions from a damp smelly former wine cellar under the Toc H building at the top of The Avenue, Southampton. A complete programme service came out of there, including newscasts, childrens programmes, outside broadcast coverage of the Carnival, and the Southampton Three Day Show on The Common, as well as live coverage of shows held at the Top Rank Suite. The regular request programmes flourished and a record library of 78s and 45s started. In August 1971, we moved above ground, having raised £9,000, representing the cost of a single storey, two studio building which was erected in the cabbage patch alongside the TOC H Mark V Youth Hostel.
As a result of the new facility the renamed “Hospital Broadcasting Association” (HBA) started live broadcasts two hours per night.
A potted history on the Southampton Hospital Broadcasting Association, produced in 1969 read: “HBA, founded in 1963 as a major extension of the TOC H Football Commentary Service to Hospitals, now transmits a variety of programmes for a period of 22 hours weekly, by means of land lines rented from the GPO, to eight hospitals and institutions in Southampton, plus the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester. Its committee includes ex officio representatives from the Southampton and Winchester Group Hospital Management Committees, TOC Hand Rediffusion. Its 60 strong membership is drawn mainly from the younger generation. HBA transmits from adapted cellars beneath TOC H, Mark V in Bassett, but in addition to occasional flooding these are far too cramped. A public appeal is pending to raise £7,500 for the purpose of building new studios. A site is available within the grounds of Mark V, which TOC H has agreed to lease to HBA”.
“In August 1971, we moved above ground, having raised £9,000, representing the cost of a single storey, two studio building which was erected in the cabbage patch alongside the Toc H Mark V Youth Hostel”. The new studio centre was formally opened on 12 October 1971 by Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Hospital Broadcasting Association. Studio centre: 574 Winchester Road. Contact: Mrs Delia Joyce. 60 members. Serving 10 hospitals in Southampton and Winchester.
In 1977 the service was broadcasting every night of the year, except Christmas Day, to ten hospitals in the Southampton and Winchester area. Children were not forgotten with a special request programme, three times a week. Live concerts and musical shows were relayed from the Gaumont and from the Guildhall. There were also landlines from the Nuffield Theatre, the Turner Sims Concert Hall and the Concorde Club, in Stoneham.
“In 1978 however, the developers moved us along and a new studio had to be found. The Western Hospital site was slowly being run down and we were granted a 21 year lease on a piece of land within the 20 acre grounds, next door to the Old Chest Hospital in Millbrook. More serious fundraising was again required and it cost £50,000 to build the studio complex, this time in brick with a tiled roof. Programmes started from these new studios in 1980 and were formally opened by Lord and Lady Romsey on 11th December, 1981”.
“In the early 1980s Southampton HBA was facing a cash-flow problem, and they realised that the costs for the land lines from Southampton to Winchester were substantial. As a result, a small group of Southampton HBA members, all of who lived in Winchester, put together a proposal that a new Hospital Radio station should be set up in Winchester. The idea was presented to the Executive Committee at Southampton HBA, who gave the project their blessing. The group of now ex-Southampton HBA members became WHR’s first executive committee”.
Winchester Hospital Radio took over broadcasting to hospitals in Winchester from Southampton HBA on 24 September 1984.
See Winchester for further information.
Alan Lambourn, who joined as a schoolboy in 1964, stated in June 1990: “The service now has a membership of 110 and is broadcasting 37 hours per week. In addition the Association providing extensive coverage on both football and cricket (each cricket match adding 23 hours to the stations broadcasting time). The hospitals served are: Southampton Western, Southampton General, Princess Anne Maternity, Fred Woolley Home of Recovery, Royal South Hampshire and Southampton Eye”.
The service reported that in 1988: “Tesco came along and wanted our piece of land to use as the entranceway, off Tebourba Way, for their new superstore. This led to them building and fitting out our magnificent new Studio Centre, We now have a new lease on our piece of land from the Hospital Authority and we started broadcasting from these new studios on 12th December 1993. The new Studio has five rooms with three sound desks, a record library, office, conference room, kitchen, engineers’ workshops and a first floor which is used as storage space. We have over 100 volunteer members, with annual running costs in excess of £17,000 and we broadcast our own radio programmes 24 hours a day to the four hospitals.
Our last show at this site was on the 13th November 2015, before we moved seamlessly to our new home at Normand House, Tremona Road and without a break in transmission started our next chapter”.
In 2016 Southampton Hospital Radio, the working name for Southampton Hospital Broadcasting Association, was broadcasting to the Southampton General and Princess Anne Hospitals.
See Part 2. Southend (1955) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
11.1 Southend Hospital Radio (1977)
Southend Hospital Radio, originally known as Thameside Radio, started broadcasting to the Southend Hospital on 5 February 1977.
“The idea of a Hospital Radio service came from a former patient and founder hospital radio member, Betti Thompson. Betti and her husband Mike, along with a group of friends, prepared a discussion paper which they put to the NHS District Management Team (headed by Malcolm Jeffries), which then took two or three months to go through various committees. They accepted the idea and ‘TOC H’, who had been transmitting sports commentaries from Southend Football Stadium to the hospital for years, came onboard”.
“The first record played was ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ by Stevie Wonder, a request from the then Sister of Balmoral Ward at Rochford Hospital. 29th May 1977 saw the first of many outside broadcasts covering the Milk Race along Southend seafront. Other events covered in the first year included Southend Carnival, Leigh Regatta, It’s A Knockout and Princess Margaret’s visit in June 1977”.
In 2016 Southend Hospital Radio was broadcasting to the Southend Hospital.
12.1 Southport Hospital Radio (Pre 1978)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Southport Hospital Radio. The Lodge. Southport Infirmary.
In the late 1980s, with the opening of the new General Hospital, the service moved to a studio in the new hospital.
Southport Hospital Radio ceased broadcasting in June 2013.
12.2 Radio Heartbeat (From 2015)
A newspaper reported in September 2015: “Southport hospital radio back in a Heartbeat”
“Hospital radio has returned to Southport after an absence of more than two years. Radio Heartbeat is transmitting to Southport via the internet thanks to support from the Mayor of West Lancashire’s charity and a gift of technical equipment from cloud technologies provider Novosco”.
“Station manager Bill Jarvis said: “We’re thrilled to be taking our service to Southport after 36 years broadcasting only to Ormskirk hospital patients”.
“The system uses a Barix streaming system and patients at Southport hear broadcasts from Ormskirk nine miles away a mere five seconds after they’re transmitted from our studio”.
See Ormskirk for further information.
- South Shields
See Part 2. South Shields (1956) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
13.1 Radio South Tyneside (1957)
The Secretary’s report in the AGM minutes, dated 23rd March, 1961, of the South Shields (Trinity House) Hospital Broadcasting Group read: “Our local broadcasting network was brought into operation in November, 1956, when sports commentaries were given from Simonside Football Ground, from a position situated at one end of an old converted tram”.
The report continued: “June, 1957, brought about the beginning of a record request programme originating from a room in the Trinity House Social Centre, Laygate, South Shields. The first broadcast took place on a Friday evening and since that time the hour long broadcast on Friday evenings has continued, uninterrupted. Messrs Rediffusion (NE) Ltd have placed at the disposal of the hospitals expensive equipment which permits the reception of a fourth programme, known as Channel D, at the bedside of each patient in the five South Shields Hospitals, ie. The General Hospital, The Maternity Hospital, Cleadon Park Sanatorium, Ingham Infirmary and Deans Hospitals. They have constructed a control desk, containing more expensive equipment, which is installed in the Trinity House Social Centre”.
These relays were preceded by the announcement: “This is Radio TH”.
Under the heading ‘Trinity House Social Centre and The Radio Club’ the AGM minutes also reported: “The Chairman of the Centre, Mr M E Glenwright and members of his Executive Committee have made available a room which contains the Rediffusion equipment and switching devices. The Centre incurs the expense of supplying electrical power and other incidental charges. The Radio Club members, inspired by Newcastle City Councillor Mr Ken Sketheway, have the responsibility of the technical operation of the Rediffusion equipment. In addition, they have constructed and purchased other equipment which enables the Broadcasting Group to undertake outside broadcasts from such places as churches and concert halls.
The record request team requires the continual assistance of a programme compiler, a collector of records, a station announcer and a team of disk jockeys. These duties are regularly undertaken by a mixed group of volunteers who include, Miss Margaret Grieves, Miss Sandra Taylor, Miss Pat Shiel, Messrs Derek Forster, Kevin Graham, Ron Charnley, Ron Gray, Michael Hodgson and Mr and Mrs Harry Deans. Until fairly recently the team was keenly supported by Miss P Gates, Mrs A Gates, Mr Alan Harker, Mr Bill Wood and Mr George Sowden”.
A local newspaper reported in February, 1958: “Each Friday evening patients in the South Shields group of hospitals can listen to their own programme of gramophone records. 535 requests have been dealt with during the period of 28 weeks ended January 24th“.
Mr J R Tyzack, Secretary of the group, reported: “The programmes run from 6.30 to 7.30 pm and they include items of interest to women, including Miss P Gates’ round-up of fashion notes, sporting teams, children’s competitions and an epilogue by the Padre. Due to regular acts of vandalism and theft of equipment at Trinity House a decision was taken in 1959 to transfer the station to the Ingram Infirmary, when they took over a studio in the ‘gods’ of that famous building in Westoe Road”.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: South Shields Hospital Broadcasting Group. Trinity House. 134 Laygate Road. Contact: J R Tyzack. Serving 3 hospitals.
On 20th October, 1983, a local newspaper reported: “A new radio station studio is being fitted out this week. Radio South Tyneside is preparing its new studio in South Shields General Hospital”.
In June, 1984, the studios in the General Hospital were opened by Bill Steel of Tyne Tees Television, who also accepted an invitation to become Honorary President of the group. At this time three Trustees of the group were also appointed. They were Mr John Tyzack, one of the founder members of Hospital Radio in the town, Mr Colin Irvine and Mrs Irene Lenderhyou.
By the end of the 1980s, in addition to the General Hospital, programmes were being broadcast to the Maternity Hospital and Ingham Infirmary. Weekly features included live Operatic Societies annual productions and live cabaret from various night clubs in South Shields.
In 2016 the service reported: “The station stayed there, next door to the old chapel until 1991 when we moved into the new hospital (Ingham Wing) where we currently reside. We’ve now changed our name again to Radio South Tyneside to reflect the role we now play in the wider South Tyneside Community”.
14.1 Hospital Radio Stafford (1972)
“Hospital Radio Stafford was formed in November 1971, and in January 1972 commenced broadcasts from a tiny studio which had been fitted into the only space the Health Authority at the time could spare, underneath the stage at St. George’s Hospital in Stafford”.
“The first broadcast had the Mayor of Stafford in attendance, and a good luck message from BBC Disc-jockey Jimmy Young was broadcast!.
By 1973 the service had expanded its catchment area to include not only Stafford’s hospitals, but also those at Yarnfield, Standon Hall and Groundslow near Stone, and the old Chase hospital in the neighbouring town of Cannock.
“In 1978 HRS was offered a new spacious home: its own building on the site of the new District General Hospital. Two new studios were built, along with a large record library and a large engineering room, where the vital equipment used to send the audio signals to the hospital was kept. The new studios were opened by TV celebrity Chris Tarrant”.
With the construction of a large new modern hospital in Stafford in the early 80s the Yarnfield, Groundslow and the old Chase hospital closed and Hospital Radio Stafford found itself broadcasting just to the Stafford hospitals”.
“In 1991 the main broadcasting studio was refurbished, with a new modern mixing desk installed and professional quality sound-proofing added to the walls”.
“In 1992 HRS was proud to once again serve patients in Cannock, as programmes were broadcast to the newly-built Community Hospital for the first time”.
Hospital Radio Stafford service to the Staffordshire General Infirmary came to an end with the hospitals closure in 1996.
In June 2015 broadcasting commenced to Katharine House Hospice.
In 2016 Hospital Radio Stafford was broadcasting the County Hospital Stafford, the Cannock Chase Hospital and Katharine House Hospice.
15.1 Radio Starlion (1977)
The service that started at the Stepping Hill Hospital was the result of an approach made by hospital chaplains to the Stockport Lions Club for help with the funding of a patient’s requests service.
Radio Starlion began broadcasting on 27 May 1977, the first programme being introduced by the Lions Club and theatre celebrity Vince Miller. Initially one programme a week was broadcast – two hours every Sunday morning.
Not only did the Stockport Lions raise the finance for the project but the first studio, located in attic premises in the main hospital building, was constructed by members of the club and, for many years, all programmes were presented by club members.
Later, to develop the service, the Stockport Lions enrolled a team of volunteers from outside the club. Over the years the output gradually increased and by 1994 Radio Starlion was broadcasting every weekday evening and during the daytime at weekends.
In 1994 the service had 26 active members and was broadcasting 21 per week to the patients in the main “acute block” at Stepping Hill Hospital, with programmes relayed to the Maternity Unit and other specialist departments. The station was still being run and financed by the Stockport Lions. The long serving members were: Philip Lawrence, an ex-member of the Stockport Lions Club and founder member of Radio Starlion and Chairman Alan Swallow, who joined and took over the running of the station in 1978.
The station’s web site reported in 2016: “Since relaunching, Radio Starlion now broadcasts 24 hours a day. The hospital is equipped with Hospedia, a system which provides radio, television, telephone and interactive services to every bed. Our service is included in the package, enabling us to reach every corner of the hospital in high-quality, stereo”..
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Stepping Hill Hospital.
15.2 Radio St Thomas (1977)
Radio St Thomas is thought to have started at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1977, possibly in September. The service was still operating under that name in 1992.
NAHBO records indicate that a service called Stockport Hospitals Radio was broadcasting to the St Thomas’ Hospital and the Stockport Infirmary in 1995.
The name was possibly changed to Stockport Radio when the Stockport Infirmary was added to the network.
In 1996 the Stockport Infirmary closed, followed by the closure of the St Thomas Hospital in 2004.
15.3. Unknown Service (Pre November 1957)
It is known that the idea for a service in Warrington, which started on the 7 November 1957, came “after months of preparation by some of the members of the Warrington Council of Youth, who came up with the idea after visiting an existing broadcasting service in Stockport”.
- Stockton on Tees
16.1 Radio North Tees General – Radio Stitch (1976)
Radio Stitch started life as a feasibility study by students of Stockton & Billingham Sixth Form College in 1975, resulting in North Tees General Radio, broadcasting by February 1976, before rebranding as Radio North Tees in 1991.
NAHBOs 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio North Tees General. North Tees General Hospital. Contact: Frank Petty.
Radio Stitch reported in 2013: “Our studios have also undergone numerous refits over the years and we have recently completed the first phase of a major refurbishment programme of our complex at the North Tees Site. We continue to broadcast 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to the University Hospital of North Tees and University Hospital of Hartlepool on Audio Channel One of the Hospedia Bedside Entertainment System, as well as throughout various parts of both hospitals.”
See Part 2. Stoke (1955) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
17.1. North Staffs Hospital Broadcasting Service (1957)
For the first two years, since its inception in 1955, hospital broadcasting to three Stoke hospitals was restricted solely to the football commentaries coming from Port Vale and Stoke City football clubs. This continued until the summer of 1957, when the North Staffs Hospital Broadcasting Service started a record request programme, temporary studio accommodation being found beneath the stage of the Victoria Hall in Hanley and later at the lodge of the City General Hospital.
In 1958 the service moved to Glebe Street, Stoke, on the third floor of a building.
Mr F Kinston wrote in 1986: “I was the first sound engineer with the North Staffs Broadcast to Hospitals Organisation. I made the equipment for the first record request programme and fitted out the studio from which the broadcast took place. I worked for Post Office Telephones and was therefore able to organise outside broadcasts from football matches, cinemas, theatres and concert halls”.
A Post Office landline map circa 1970, drawn by Mr F Kinston just before he left the service, shows a GPO repeater station receiving lines from six locations: (1) Port Vale FC. (2) Stoke City FC. (3) The Victoria Hall for All-in Wrestling and concerts. (4) The Theatre Royal, connecting to stage microphones and a commentary position in a box. (5) The Danilo Cinema, taking the film sound from the cinema equipment and feeding in a commentary from the front row of the circle. (6) A studio, with a switch to BBC Radio Stoke when “Off Air”.
The lines were then connected to the North Staffs Royal Infirmary, City General Hospital, Haywood Hospital and Hartshill Orthopaedic Hospital.
In 1972 the Glebe Street building had to be demolished to make way for a road. By this time, now broadcasting seven nights a week and to twelve local hospitals, larger premises were required and another move took place, to the old Register Office in Stoke.
Finally, in 1978, the service moved back to the City General Hospital, to studios set in the hospital grounds. This studio complex was in a specially modified building, comprising of two studios, a central control room, record library, engineers’ workshop and reception area. The service proudly proclaimed: “Visitors are always welcome to view our studios”.
Programme content had also expanded from the early days of football commentariers only. In addition to live coverage of Stoke City and Port Vale home matches, outside broadcasts were including professional boxing from Trentham Gardens and the Mayfair at Burslem, wrestling from the Victoria Hall and shows performed by the North Staffs Operatic Society staged at the Queens Theatre. These outside broadcasts featured amongst the classical, popular music, record requests and quiz programmes. In 1986 Doreen Bourne, the Hon Secretary/Treasurer, reported: “We still have with us three of the original members. My husband, who is the Chairman, and myself, have been with the service about 17 years”.
By the late 1980s the service was being staffed by some eighty volunteers.
18.1 Standish Hospital Broadcasting Service (Circa 1958)
In about 1958 John Cantwell and the Standish Hospital’s League of Friends started to play music to the patients using a record player. This proved to be very successful and within a few months a studio was established.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Standish Hospital Broadcasting Service, Standish Hospital, contact: Miss J A Feltham.
Since it started the service only served the Standish Hospital.
Ann Hampton, the Station’s Manager in 1992, wrote: “We currently have 14 members and broadcast 18 hours per week 7 programmes, mainly requests. In addition church services and the hospital fete are covered every year. John Cantwell, the founder member, is no longer a DJ but is now the Chairman of the League of Friends”. Ann joined the service in 1980.
The Standish Hospital closed on 29 December 2004.
See Part 2. Sunderland (1954) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
19.1 Radio Sunderland for Hospitals (1956)
The minutes of the Sunderland League of Friends Commentaries Association dated 30 May, 1956, included this statement: “Mr J Graham proposed that the Association explore the possibilities of relaying a record request programme”.
The next committee meeting held on 5 July was able to report: “It was decided that in co-operation with Rediffusion (NE) Ltd the Association would arrange a weekly programme for the hospital patients. This programme to take the form of Record Requests alternating with requests played by Mr A Flush and his Band from the New Rink. Additional items such as a sports forum and regular sports talks by the commentators panel would be included. In connection with these activities Rediffusion (NE) Ltd agreed to provide a record player. Binns Ltd had promised to provide the necessary records free of charge. The Rev P Wigfield had agreed to organise the production of the record request programme and was co-opted to the Association. Mr A Flush and Mr P Lynn met the Association and it was decided that they should record an experimental programme. Mr P Lynn promised to make recordings of piano music (requests) for the use of the Association as they desired. It was decided that these programmes should begin as soon as the necessary arrangements could be made”.
The record request programmes began on 28 December, 1956, for one hour per week, and in view of its success it was suggested that Newcastle, South Shields and Sunderland Hospitals should have their own local programmes preferably during the afternoons. The minutes of 15 January, 1959 recorded: “During the year 1,012 records had been played for 2,000 patients. Thanks were expressed to Mr J Atkinson for the loan of the records. In the view of the increasing TV programmes it was decided to have the Record Programme at 10.30 each Sunday morning if the hospital authorities were in favour”. The Treasurers’ report showed a balance of £41,12s .1Od.
During the 1960s the service had an influx of members from the then thriving Newcastle Tape Recorder Club. This was mainly composed of employees or ex-employees of the Ferrograph tape recorder works at nearby South Shields. It was at this time that the name was changed to ‘Sunderland Hospital Broadcasts’.
Finally in 1974, the service’s 21st anniversary, the name was changed to “Radio Sunderland” By the early 1970s the number of hospitals receiving the service had risen to about nine, including the Sunderland Maternity Hospital, Grindon Hall Hospital, Seaham Hall Hospital, Haverlock Hospital, Sunderland General, Ryhope General Hospital, Royal Infirmary, Eye Infirmary and Monkwearmouth Hospital.
In 1992 Radio Sunderland had 42 members and was broadcasting 18 hours per week to five hospitals; Sunderland General, Ryhope General Hospital, Royal InfIrmary, Eye InfIrmary and Monkwearmouth Hospital (where the service was located). The station’s long serving members included Maureen and Tommy Quinn (about 21 years), Bill Bowes (20), Brian Wallace (20) and John Harper (17).
The service to the Royal Infirmary ended in 1996 with the closure of the hospital.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting from a studio in the Monkwearmouth Hospital to the Sunderland Royal Hospital.
20.1 Radio Marsden (1969)
In the spring of 1969 David Peschier set up a cassette machine in a day room in the Royal Marsden Hospital to play patients requests. After a short time the hospital found him a small room on the ground floor of the hospital. Equipment consisted of a simple sound mixing deck and two autochange decks. Records were cued not by listening through headphones but by putting ones ear by the styIus to hear the vibrations from the grooves!
Gradually the Radio Marsden team grew, and along carne Andrew Robertson, BBC television cameraman and keen amateur sound recordist. Serving as technical officer and programme controller, he helped the station to become more sophisticated. He recorded the first Radio Marsden jingles and upgraded equipment, putting to good use the funds David had raised. Equally important he introduced new programme features.
“Andrew was quite a task master and we were always trying something new,” recalls James Pringle. “I have memories of our outside broadcasts, and climbing out of the windows with masses of cable, to link wards with the studio. We got teams of patients and set up microphones by their beds for inter-ward quizzes. And it really wouldn’t have mattered if nobody had been listening, because those patients really appreciated having something new to think about”. Musicians carne in to perform for live and radio audiences for a number of programmes, like the Christmas show. Staged many times in the Pinkham Ward dayroom at Sutton, and later in the canteen, this show featured musicians, comedy, competitions and star guests.
Celebrities have always been part of the Radio Marsden scene. Over the years, David Peschier, Andrew Robertson, Maureen Georges, James Pringle and Keith Warner recorded countless star interviews. In recent times Paul Holman has carried on the tradition, even obtaining an interview with the Prime Minister. James Pringle hosted a chapel show with the great variety star Tessie O’Shea. And he welcomed to the studio such experienced broadcasters as Richard Murdoch and Radio 4 “Pick of the Week” presenter Margaret Howard.
NAHBO’s 1974 directory records “Radio Marsden. Nine members. One hospital served. Address: Royal Marsden Hospital, Downs Road, Sutton. Start date: Spring 1969“.
A great milestone for the station came in 1980 when it linked up for the first time with a sister hospital in Fulham Road, London. The service now being heard by patients in both the Royal Marsden and Fulham Road Hospitals.
A studio was established in the Fulham Road personnel department outbuilding so that London helpers could join in the broadcasts. Those helpers came mostly from the Fulham Road Junior League of Friends. Requests and competitions are presented for patients in both hospitals, as well as interviews with staff at both sites. A long established tradition is the weekly Staff Award which gives patients the chance to say thanks to members of staff who have been especially helpful.
The Princess of Wales, the Queen Mother, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister all had requests played on Radio Marsden in March 1990.
In 1990 Radio Marsden reported: “From its humble beginnings our radio station is now a well equipped service with more than 35 active members. We broadcast from 7-lOpm every evening from Monday to Thursday, and may eventually extend into the other days if our research indicates demand at weekends”.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton and the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea from a studio at the Sutton hospital.
- Sutton in Ashfield
21.1 Radio Mansfield (Pre 1978)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Radio Mansfield. Kings Mill Hospital. Contact: Mrs Young
21.2 Millside Hospital Radio (1989)
Millside Hospital Radio started broadcasting on 20 October 1989 to the Dukeries Centre at King’s Mill.Hospital. “At the start, there were only four members, Mike Bargh, Pete Haslam, Mark Simpson and Bill Purdue”.
In March 1990 the hospital made available part of the old Occupational Health area to the service and .a permanent studio was established.
Prior to the studio being built the service was pre-recorded at the studios of Nottingham Hospital Radio located 20 miles away at the Queen’s Medical Centre.
“We were able to collect requests from people in the Dukeries Centre at King’s Mill and then dash down to Nottingham to put the programme together. Back at King’s Mill, Mark Simpson was busy connecting the wires from our cassette tape recorder (the only equipment we had at the time) to the hospital distribution system sited alongside the water tanks in the attic of the Dukeries Centre”.
Broadcasting was extended in 1992 to cover the Mansfield Community Hospital one mile away. Programmes were made available on channel 1. In addition to normal programming, Millside provided an overnight service for Ashfield Community Radio, a restricted service license (RSL) which was focused on the annual Ashfield show that year. This was the first of a number of such co-operations with local organizations over the next few years.
To celebrate the service’s fifth birthday in 1994 a live party programme was transmitted across the hospitals and the whole Mansfield and Ashfield area with help from Sherwood Community Radio RSL.
In 2006 the service moved into a brand-new area comprising two studios and a large reception area.
In 2016 Millside Hospital Radio was broadcasting to the Kings Mill Centre, Sutton in Ashfield and to the Mansfield Community Hospital.
See Part 1. Swindon (1938).
See Part 2. Swindon (1955) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
22.1 Swindon Hospitals Broadcasting Society (1967)
The Swindon Hospital Broadcasting Society came into existence in 1965 and began broadcasting from the cellar of the TOC H hostel on 30 December 1967.
It was the idea of one of the football commentators, Les Harris, who suggested “the format be widened to include broadcasting requests, music and chat to lighten the patients stay in hospital”.
“At the height of Hospital Radio Swindon, we broadcast to Princess Margaret And Victoria Hospitals in Swindon, the Stratton St Margaret Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Raf Hospital in Wroughton and the Savernake Hospital in Marlborough. We also broadcast to the isolation hospital in Gorse Hill and the Hermitage convalescent home in Old Town. Sadly as costs increased, we had to reduce the number of hospitals we broadcast to”.
“Disaster struck in 1976, when a fire in the cellar destroyed most of the equipment and 3,000 records. Keith and Audrey Suter, two members of the society, opened up a bedroom in their homes as a studio and broadcasting continued from there”.
TOC H offered to build a studio on their land and by 1977 the studio was in full use.
In 2007, “after lengthy negotiations, we moved into our new studio in the Great Western Hospital”.
In 2016 Hospital Radio Swindon, the working name for Swindon Hospitals Broadcast Society, was broadcasting to the Great Western Hospital.
23.1 Taunton Hospital Radio (1969) – Apple FM (2013)
The Taunton Hospital Broadcasting Association started broadcasting from a studio in the Musgrove Park Hospital in 1969.
NAHBO’s 1974 directory records Taunton HBA. Two hospitals served. Contact: Ken Windsor.
“On 11th May 2013 Taunton Hospital Radio evolved into Apple FM, an OfCom licensed FM Community Radio Station to serve the Caring Community of the borough of Taunton Deane and beyond”.
“Now broadcasting on 97.3FM in the locality, on www.applefm.co.uk, through their dedicated smartphone App and to the Patients in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, Apple FM Broadcasts 24 hours a day with live shows starting with Breakfast from 7-9am, through Drivetime from 4-6pm and on to end of live programming at 10pm (Midnight on Friday nights), Apple FM serves those in care, Carers, family and friends of those in care and carers, Dentist & Doctor waiting areas, forging solid links with the community around it, including local Schools & Colleges”.
24.1 Torbay Hospital Radio – Radio Active (1970s)
Torbay Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Torbay Hospital in the 1970s “from a small windowless room in the bowels of the hospital”.
In 1978 “the hospital’s League of Friends gave the station new purpose-built studios with windows and lots of space to hold all its equipment and the record library”.
The station was re-launched in 1994 and named “Radio Active”. Two years later in 1996 the studio was upgraded and a new sound mixer installed.
“On 29th May 2015, the station introduced “Online Streaming” due the increasing number of patients now using their own devices to “connect with the outside world” – with free WiFi right across the hospital”.
In 2016 Radio Active was broadcasting to the Torbay Hospital.
25.1 T L F Radio (Pre 1978)
A service called Totnes League of Friends (TLF Radio) started broadcasting prior to 1978 from a studio at the Broomborough Hospital.
NAHBO’s 1977 directory records TLF Radio. Broomborough Hospital. Contact: Linda Pantry.
“In 1988 the station was in the original studios in some outbuildings of Broomborough Hospital in Totnes (converted to housing in the ’90s). There was a record library in the production/meeting space, and joined to that was an operator’s studio and a presenting studio”.
The Broomborough Hospital closed in January 1993 and TLF Radio moved to a studio it established in the new Totnes Community Hospital in Coronation Road.
“TLF stands for the Totnes League of Friends, a charitable organisation that exists for the benefit of Totnes Community Hospital, and TLF Radio considered itself – at least in part – under the wing of the League of Friends. The League made financial donations to help with the upkeep of the station”.
In 2001 won the Hospital Broadcasting Association’s “Hospital Radio Station of the Year” award. Within two years the service had closed.
25.2 Life Care Radio (2016)
See Paignton: Life Care Radio for details of its previous history.
On 3 March 2016 the Totnes Times, under the heading “Studio revamp hope for return of hospital radio” included the following statement: “The Totnes Hospital studio has been sitting there for some 10 years untouched. It’s used once a week by the Totnes Talking Newspaper”.
Mark Burgess of Life Care Radio said in early 2016: “At the moment it is used by the Totnes Talking Newspaper, said Mark, but Life Care Radio hopes to be able to move in to share the facilities and to revamp the existing equipment and purchase new kit. The aim is to begin broadcasting hospital radio programmes again to the hospital wards as well as broadcasting direct to various care homes around the area”.
“Presently the radio programme discs are distributed to a dozen homes, mainly in Brixham and Ivybridge, but if the group can organise a new set-up at Totnes Hospital it will be able to stream its broadcasts live to both the wards and the care homes, as well as adding more care and nursing homes to its audience”.
A music based service may have started in Truro in 1967. No further details available.
26.1 Truro Hospital Radio (1980)
A report in 1992 stated that the service was broadcasting at the “Treliske Hospital” (Royal Cornwall Hospital).
The service reported in 2016: “Cornwall Hospital Broadcasting (CHBN) is a working name for the charity Truro Hospital Radio. Having been in existence for over 3 decades, we are Cornwall’s longest running radio service.
CHBN provides a Hospital Radio service to the patients at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, West Cornwall Hospital and St. Michael’s Hospital. We provide a lively mix of music, entertainment and chat, catering for all age groups and tastes in music.
A key part of our service involves visiting the patients to collect their music requests, then broadcasting these especially for them. We also provide on-air information and advice around the topics of health, wellbeing and lifestyle, working with services and departments within the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s Trust and the local community”.
“ Available on 100.8FM in Truro and the surrounding areas, in the Royal Cornwall, West Cornwall, St. Michael’s Hospitals and Online”.
- Tunbridge Wells
27.1 Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells (1961)
An article that appeared in a local newspaper in 1986 excellently summarises the history of the hospital broadcasting service that started in Tunbridge Wells in 1961:
“The wife of a patient who found very little to keep himself occupied while in the Kent and Sussex hospital was the spark that launched what is now Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells (HRTW), serving four west Kent hospitals. For nearly a decade a dedicated team of ladies from the Kent and Sussex ran a request based service for patients in that hospital. One of them, Mrs Margaret Gresham, joined the current team recently as part of HRTW’s silver jubilee year celebrations.
She said: ‘It was actually a Mrs Copper Jackson who started it, with her own records and at her own expense. She later passed it on to a doctor’s wife, Mary Gibbs, who formed a team’. The programme was called ‘Strictly Off the Record’, as when it started they could not play tapes because of copyright. It was on once a week, and was known to close down during the summer holidays”.
In 1963 or 1964 a young chap called David set up and ran, for about a year, a programme which was taped at home on Thursday nights, then fed through the hospital radio system from the chapel on Saturday mornings for about an hour. It was a magazine type programme using a small portable tape recorder.
In 1969, 3 miles down the road, a new hospital radio service was being put together using a portable unit and an ancient rack of valve equipment. Over time this went on to become Radio Pembury. In the early seventies The Leagues of Friends of the two hospitals got together to link the stations creating the now familiar Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells.
By the mid seventies, six hospitals were linked to the network based in the Kent and Sussex hospital.
A station manager from the early 1970’s, Nigel Peacock, said: “When I first saw the studio at the Kent and Sussex Hospital it was very basic, lacking many facilities taken for granted by our team today. There were two record players, three knobs and a little microphone in a box which plugged into the wall – however, they provided a very popular service for many years like that. Brian Anderson, now programme controller of Moray Firth radio, and I used to bring in our own disco and plug it in, to do a two-and-a-half hour show once a week. Eventually the ladies handed over to us”.
In 1980, the station moved from its home in the Kent and Sussex hospital, due to hospital expansion, into a portakabin studio within the grounds of Pembury hospital from where the service continued until 1996.
Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells briefly experimented with Television by broadcasting live pictures and sound from the Tunbridge Wells carnival in 1986 and 1987.
In 1990 Tracey Skinner, the Station Manager wrote: “We launched our service to Sevenoaks Hospital on 4th June, 1988 – a small community hospital thirteen miles away from our studio at Pembury. The hospitals currently on our network are therefore, Pembury, the Kent and Sussex, Tonbridge Cottage and Sevenoaks”.
A year later Tracey added: “The station no longer broadcasts to Sevenoaks Hospital as the League of Friends were unable to afford the line rental for the distance from their hospital to our studio. In November 1990, after nearly three years of negotiations with Tunbridge Wells Health Authority, we were offered new premises at the Kent and Sussex Hospital where the service was founded some 30 years ago”.
Due to planned closure of the Kent and Sussex hospital the service started looking at commercial premises and finally signed a lease for their new home in September 2011. The studios were located at 23a Grosvenor Road in Tunbridge Wells.
In 2016 the service was providing a 24 hour service to patients in the Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury and the Tonbridge Cottage hospital.
27.2 Radio Samantha (1970)
In 1970 a service called Radio Samantha, later renamed Radio Pembury, started broadcasting at the Pembury Hospital from a cellar affectionately known as the ‘dungeon’. Within a few years Radio Pembury amalgamated with Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells. See 28.1.
In early 2006 the service to Pembury Hospital ended with the closure of the hospital.
28.1 Arrow Sound Hospital Radio (Circa 1982)
“When Arrowe Park (Hospital) was opened in 1982, Radio Catherine began broadcasting via landline to the new site whilst studio space was sourced prior to relocation, before being re-launched as “ArroweSound Hospital Radio” to reflect our new surroundings and audience base. Initially broadcasting from our purpose built 3rd floor studios into the day rooms and on the patient power bedside service, the station was again relocated in 2004 to our new home on the 2nd floor”.
See Birkenhead for further information
Embracing advances in technology the station went digital in 2005 introducing our new 24/7 broadcasting service providing patients and staff with automated non stop output during twilight hours.
“In 2014 the station was re-branded ‘ArroweSound’ with our new strap line ‘Your Choice First’ and in response to patient demand installed our own internet service enabling us to extended our broadcasting platforms”.
In 2016 the service was being broadcast to the Arrowe Park Hospital and The Countess of Chester Hospital”.
See Part 2. Wakefield for the early history of the sports commentary service.
29.1 Wakefield Broadcasts to Hospitals Service (1955)
On Monday, 20th June, 1955, at the White Horse Hotel, Wakefield’s Broadcast to Hospitals (Rugby League Commentary Service – started 12 March 1955) held a committee meeting. A discussion, led by the Chairman Mr Haig, arose as to the possibility of introducing a request programme to the hospitals. The minutes record: “After various suggestions were put forward it was finally decided to form a Sub-Committee and the following were selected to act upon it: Messrs Ackroyd, Hargreaves and Jewitt”.
Letters were written to the Performing Rights Society and Phonographic Performance Ltd to obtain the necessary information regarding payments of any royalties etc. and it was learnt that all licence charges and royalties were waived subject to records being used on a closed circuit relay service. Very soon a studio was established in the TOC H HQ in Queen Street, Wakefield.
On Monday 31st October, 1955, the inaugural ceremony was performed by Alderman A Carr. The first request programme going out to patients in four local hospitals; Clayton, Pinderfields General, County General and Stanley Royd, from 7pm to 7.30pm every Monday night. The DJ’s were Mike Etherton, David Hargreaves and Miss Abbiss. Record manipulator was Mr Clarence Jewitt, assisted by Mr Akroyd. Mr Jewitt was an active member of the service until his death in the late 70s. Finance at the end of the first year read thus:- Receipts £285-1-1d, Payments £220-11-5d. Income was mainly from donations and collections. Equipment was as follows: 4 amplifiers, 3 microphones, 2 pairs of headphones, 1 gramophone and 1 Grundig tape recorder.
In February, 1956, Snapethorpe Hospital was connected to the service. In April the request programme was extended to 1 hour and recordings of local choirs and harvest festivals etc were included. A weekly series of ten minute religious services, in which hospital Chaplains took part, was also introduced. In 1958 further extensions to the service took place, to include Stanley View’s Aged Persons Hostel and Child Memorial Home for the Blind. During 1959/60 permanent lines were installed to the Cathedral, Unity Hall and the Locarno Ballroom. The service was further extended to include the Old People’s Home at Eastmoor.
Due to re-development plans in the TOC H building a new home had to be found for the service. On 29th March, 1961, broadcasts started from a small studio set up in the attic of what was then the Tramways Club, also in Queen Street. During 1962 the number of hospitals and homes receiving the service increased once again, from 8 to 12 (Aged Persons Homes in Sandal, Kettlethorpe Hall, Clewethorpe and Castle Lodge). A line was also installed from the Embassy Ballroom. By 1963 the request programme was going out every night, from 8pm to 9pm, followed by “Late Night Prayers”. The service successfully transmitted programmes from the cramped, draughty conditions of the attic studio above the Tramways Club until the late 1970s. The service then moved; first to a temporary home, a small room in Pinderfields Hospital, then to more spacious studios in the same hospital.
An undated local newspaper stated: “Miners at Walton Colliery, near Wakefield, have put their hearts into producing a record that will bring smiles to the faces of five of their work mates lying ill in hospital. For the record – not in tons but on tape – will relay the familiar sounds of Yorkshire colliery life to the men’s bedsides in Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield as they listen to a surprise programme on the city’s Broadcast to Hospitals tonight”. Such programmes, including interviews with people like Lonnie Donegan, Brian Rix, Harry Secombe and others, were the work of Agnes White.
A shortage of office space at Pinderfields, and a desire by the service to move to more spacious accommodation meant another move in 1986. This time to brand new, purpose built studios, in the heart of Stanley Royd Hospital. The new complex was officially opened in March, 1987. In contrast to the half hour request programme each week in the early 1960s the service was now broadcasting every day of the year.
In 1987 the full length station name, “Wakefield Broadcasts to Hospitals Service”, was dropped – but the initials WBHS were retained to keep the link with the past. By 1990 only 4 major hospitals were being served: Pinderfields, Stanley Royd, Manygates and Clayton. The longest serving members of WBHS are George Hubbard (60-90), Arthur Jowett (69-90), Ernest Hibbert and Darren Byford (78-90).
Steve Davies, the Chief Executive of WBHS, wrote in 1992: “We are fortunate to be able to broadcast to all of the hospitals in the city from our two fully equipped studios at Stanley Royd Hospital. We pride ourselves on giving a wide choice in listening by our above average presenters, this is backed up by the fact that many of our staff have gone into positions within the industry both at home and abroad”.
30.1 Walsall Hospital Radio (1978)
Walsall Hospital Radio started broadcasting under the name ‘Radio Lions’ on 18 March 1978 to the Walsall Manor Hospital.
The station was named after the Walsall Lions Club who had set it up and initial broadcasts took place on Sunday mornings from a converted bathroom at the top of the hospital’s Salisbury Wing.
The station moved to a studio at the top of St. John’s Wing on 8 October 8 1983. The services expanded steadily during the eighties with the station’s popular live broadcasts from Walsall FC matches commencing in 1988.
“In 1992 Walsall Hospital Radio adopted its current name after outgrowing the stewardship of the Walsall Lions Club. 1992 was also the year in which the station’s main studio was refurbished and a proper mixing desk installed”.
The station’s second studio has re-equipped in early 2002 with a mixing desk and additional playback equipment. The service purchased a computer playout system in 2003 enabling the station to broadcast 24 hours a day
Undated Wikipedea entry:”Walsall Manor Hospital is currently in the midst of an extensive redevelopment programme being carried out by construction company Shanska. Part of the plans for redevelopment include knocking down St. John’s Wing, currently home to the WHR studios. Space for new studios has been reserved in the Maternity Wing and a move is expected in late 2010. Studio plans for the new studio suggest that the station’s new premises will be more spacious than at present and possibly better equipped”.
The service was not operating in 2016.
See Part 2. Warrington (1953) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
31.1 Radio General – Warrington Hospital Radio (1957)
The origin of a music based hospital broadcasting in Warrington can be traced back to two separate organisations, the Warrington Rugby Commentaries Association and the Warrington Council of Youth Hospital Broadcasts.
The Hospital Request Service was started on 7 November 1957 after months of preparation by the Warrington Council of Youth. The idea of a hospital radio station came after some members visited an existing one in Stockport. At first the records requested were borrowed, played, then returned. Teams taking it in turns to collect requests or present the programmes. Broadcasts were originally on Thursday evening and Sunday morning.
In the mid 1970’s it was felt that the two sides of hospital broadcasting in Warrington could be better served if they became one organisation. So Radio General was formed, providing both the rugby commentaries and the Hospital Request Service.
During the time Radio General has been on air, the studios have moved to different locations in the hospital. In 1982 the service moved into to custom built studios. These were subsequently extended in 1986 in order to increase the broadcasting facilities.
In 1984, in order to raise funds, the service carried out its first 50 hour sponsored broadcast, which included using nearly all its OB locations.
In 1997, the station celebrated 40 years of Hospital Requests. The occasion was marked with a birthday party, followed by a non-stop 40 hour broadcast. The sponsored broadcast was extended to 50 hours the following year to mark the 50th anniversary of the NHS.
The service reported in 2016: “2001 saw us move again to our present home in the main entrance of Warrington Hospital”.
32.1 Radio Warnford (1973)
Radio Warneford, the working name for South Warwickshire Hospital Broadcasting Association, started broadcasting to the Warwick Hospital in 1973.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Warwick Hospital.
The first football commentaries at Watford in 1954 were recorded on a reel to reel machine and played back to the patients on the Sunday after the match. “The following year Reg Stacey and Lionel Wright joined the team and the first ‘live’ broadcast went out in March 1955”.
See Part 2. Watford for the early history of the sports commentary service.
33.1 Watford Hospital Broadcasting Service (1967)/Pulse Hospital Radio (2016)
In the late 1960s a group of people decided that the football commentary service, which had started in 1954, should be expanded to cover church services, music and general features. In 1967 a studio was built and equipped at Shrodells Hospital. To integrate all these activities the ‘Watford Hospitals Broadcasting Service’ was formed and officially came into being on 14 November 1969 when it was registered as a charity. Some 18 months later the service was extended to include the West Herts and St Paul’s Hospitals at Hemel Hempstead.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Watford Hospital Broadcasting Service, Studio 2, Shrodells Hospital. Contact: P J Arnold.
In 1984 a new studio was built in the new Shrodells Hospital. The following year Reg Stacey, who had carried out the first live football commentary broadcast 30 years earlier, wrote: “I suppose today we can reach a maximum of 1,000 patients. It’s the patients who really matter. We are an active part of every patient’s health care plan and if we only make one patient’s stay easier and happier we can feel a sense of achievement”.
“In the autumn of 2014 Watford Hospital radio merged with Hemel Hospital Radio. We are now on a campaign to put speakers back into Hemel Hospital to enable the patients there to have the same service we already provide to Watford. We are also looking at installing additional speakers within Watford Hospital to reach more outpatient departments”.
The Watford Observer newspaper reported on 8 April 2016:
“Watford and Hemel Hempstead hospital radio stations merged under a new name in the same weekend that the station won awards.
Watford Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, A to Z of Pop presenter Richard Smith and the Hospital Broadcasting Association’s president June Snowden joined members of Watford Hospitals Broadcasting Service to re-launch the station on March 20.
The new name was suggested by Mark Nicholas, a member of the station, and approved by members before a new logo and branding were created.
Newly elected chairman Justin Beattie was the last person to talk on Watford Hospital Radio and the first person to present on Pulse Hospital Radio.
Station manager Martin O’Czaja said staff tried to get patients and staff “more involved”, by delivering goody bags and cupcakes as they collected song requests on the wards.
The re-launch was only one of the big events that weekend, as station volunteers also won prizes at the Hospital Broadcasting Association’s annual conference. Andy Wernham was nominated for the John Whitney award for his contribution to the station over many years, and Lucy Hayne was shortlisted for best newcomer. Head of events, fundraising and publicity Chloe O’Czaja was chosen from more than 6,000 volunteers from more than 200 stations to win Fundraiser of the Year”.
See Hemel Hempstead for further information.
- West Bromwich
See Part 2. West Bromwich (About 1958) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
34.1 Sandwell Hospital Radio (Early 1980s)
A service called Sandwell Valley Radio began broadcasting in the early 1980s to the General Hospital.
“Sandwell Hospital Radio was known as Sandwell Valley Radio, and used to broadcast from the basement of the hospital, right next door to the morgue! The room was very tiny indeed, in fact you could not get more than three people in there at anyone time!”
“After a few years, it was decided that Sandwell Valley Radio needed a new home, and the manpower Services Commission kindly lent the support. A grant was obtained from Marks & Spencer for £10,000, and work started on the new complex early in 1984. The name of the organization was changed during this time and gained Registered Charity Status”.
The new complex was opened on 25 January 1985.
“The first show to be broadcast was that of Ed Doolan MBE, who presented his lunch-time show that day from our studios, live to his listeners on BBC Radio WM. Ed Doolan MBE is now our Honorary President of the station”.
In 2016 Sandwell Hospital Radio was broadcasting from a studio complex located in an outbuilding on the General Hospital site.
- Weston-Super- Mare
35.1 Weston-Super-Mare HBS (1978)
The Weston Hospital Broadcasting Society (W.H.B.S) started broadcasting from a studio in the attic of Eastern House, Landermann Circus on 26 July 1978.
The service was formed by the West Woodspring Rotoract Club. “Their aim was to make patients stay in hospital a little easier by providing a wide range of programmes to suit all tastes”.
In 1983 plans were made to amalgamate the four separate hospitals in the area into one new General Hospital. “This meant that W.H.B.S was on the move, from their existing studio in Eastern House to the new hospital in Grange Road, Uphill”.
In 2016 Sunshine Radio, the working name for Weston-super-Mare Hospital Broadcasting Society, was broadcasting to the Weston General Hospital.
36.1 Hospital Radio Wey (1967)
In Weybridge a service called Hospital Radio Wey was formed in 1965 by Alan Timbrell and John Best who between them taped two hours of programmes per week. These were played in the wards of Weybridge Hospital using a portable tape machine. After two years an approach was made to the Hospital authorities and a room was made available in Weybridge Hospital for a studio. This room became known as “The Shoebox”.
Live broadcasts to Weybridge Hospital started on 5 October 1967, with 13 hours of programmes a week. Just over a year later, Ellesmere and Walton Hospitals were linked up via Post Office land lines and programmes increased to 20 hours per week. Two more hospitals, St Peter’s and Ottershaw were added to the network in 1970. Three years later, in early 1973, Ashford Hospital was also added. In 1978 Ottershaw was disconnected from the service.
In about 1970, to add scope to the service, an outside broadcast unit was introduced. A portable OB mixer with headsets was taken to local football grounds enabling a live second half commentary to be broadcast. A second unit, which included two record decks and a mixer, was available to be used at hospital fetes and other local events and this enabled live coverage of local football matches and other outside events.
The original studio in Weybridge Hospital, affectionately known as “The Shoebox”, was rebuilt in 1973. During a month’s break in transmission a completely new studio was installed. The opening of this new studio, on 8th April, was celebrated by a day of special programmes presented by national radio stars including Noel Edmonds, Tony Brandon, John Dunn, Johnny Walker and Keith Skues.
As the membership grew “The Shoebox” became too restrictive for the station’s programming needs and the service was offered new accommodation in the grounds of St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey. The building was an old telephone exchange requiring total internal refurbishment. It took the members of the service two years to complete the project.
In 1990 Graham Ungless, the Chairman, wrote: “We now have two studios, a record library, toilet and kitchen/reception. The studios were officially opened on 7 May 1989 by Cliff Richard”.
Graham added: “During the late 1980s the service broadcast to Ashford General, St Peter’s, Weybridge, Walton-on-Thames and Ellesmere hospitals. For a short while we also provided a service to Woking Victoria Hospital, but this unfortunately closed. Recently we have also lost Ellesmere Geriatric Hospital due to closure and also Walton-on-Thames, which took in a large number of the geriatric patients from Walton. The Administration decided our service was no longer required. At present we have 81 members and we broadcast from 6-10pm weekdays and 8.30am to 10pm weekends, representing some 47 hours per week”.
The service reported in 2016: “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.
Over the past few years we have updated our facilities by installing a new sound mixing console and upgraded our PC based play-out systems. Radio Wey has an exciting future and we invite you to visit us again soon or to take part by listening on line”.
In 2016 the service was being received at the Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals and the community in Runnymede, Spelthorne, Elmbridge & Woking Boroughs.
See Part 2. Weymouth (1957) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
In the 1950s and 1960s two music based services are known to have started in Weymouth.
37.1 Weymouth Hospital Radio (1956)
“It all began in 1956, with a man on a bike, a record player and some records. The man was Eric Walbrin (a member of TOC H) who visited Westhaven Hospital to entertain the patients with record requests”. So wrote Doreen Porter in an article celebrating ‘Over 30 Years of Hospital Radio’. Initially there was not a studio, or even a permanent base to broadcast from – it was a case of finding an unused room or a space in the hospital that had a power point to run the electrical equipment.
By 1960 the service was being relayed by landlines to the Weymouth & District Hospital, Portwey Maternity and the Royal Eye Infirmary. Later (exact date unknown) the landline extended to include the Portland Hospital.
In 1961 taped request and record programmes were started by Reg & Valerie Vincent and a studio was established in what was the Royal Eye Infirmary’s vegetable store. Later the service moved to the radio room in the basement of the Weymouth & District Hospital.
In 1971 it was decided to carry out a special event and bring Weymouth Carnival day to the patients. Various events taking place were broadcast, with any gaps between filled with music or guests calling into the studio. The event was still being covered nearly 20 years later.
A TOC H article of April, 1973, entitled ‘Welcome to Radio Weymouth’ (written by Peter Foster) read: “It’s 12 noon and welcome to Radio Weymouth, the local broadcasting service for the Weymouth and Portland Hospitals. Let’s go straight into our first programme of the day – for the next 45 minutes we bring you the best in band music, the programme we call Fanfare”. Another TOC H article, dated July, 1975 read: “Weymouth TOC H Hospital Broadcasting Service was horrified to discover that its underground wiring system had been ripped out – presumably by vandals. This put the broadcasting out of action for a week until the damage could be repaired. Luckily, the vandals did not get inside the studio, which only a month before had been fitted out with brand new equipment”.
In the summer of 1983 the ventilation system in the studio was giving concern, with fumes thought to be entering the system. The service was consequently closed and the landline link to the Portwey Maternity Hospital and the Royal Eye Infirmary discontinued.
It was not until March 1984 that broadcasts recommenced with a special programme presented by Bryan Baker, Ray Bishop, Dave Matthews and Reg Vincent. It was also during this period that TOC H decided to drop out and concentrate on other forms of entertainment. A new name was chosen, “Shambles’” partly in fun, but also because of the old light ship “Shambles’ that used to be moored about 4 miles south of Weymouth. The old studio in the basement was closed in 1986 and the service moved to a new studio located on the top floor of a newly built extension to the Weymouth & District Hospital.
By 1992 Radio Shambles (Weymouth Hospital Radio) had a membership of about 40 and was broadcasting 44.5 hours per week to patients in the Weymouth and District Hospital. The longest serving members have been Reg Vincent (over 25 years), Jack Smith (over 15 years) and Ray Bishop (over 15 years).
In about 1997 the service closed and many of its members joined Ridgeway Radio in Dorchester.
38.2 Sound of Weymouth (1965)
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations stated: Sound of Weymouth. 3 members. Contact: G Steer.
“At various times since the beginning of the Dorchester Hospital Broadcasting Society some of the team were also involved with the Toc H Hospital Radio service in Weymouth (latterly Radio Shambles)”.
When Radio Shambles in Weymouth closed in about 1997 it donated its equipment and record library to Ridgeway Radio, “along with many of its members”.
See Part 3 – Dorchester for further information.
The official opening of the rugby commentary service in Whitehaven was on Friday 4 February 1955 in the Rehabilitation Centre of the Whitehaven Castle Infirmary Hospital. Mr Peter Kelly, Chairman of the Hospital Broadcast Committee introduced Mr J B Smith, Chairman of the League of Friends who officially opened the newly installed equipment to relay the games from the Recreation Ground to the hospital.
The first rugby league match to be broadcast was on Saturday 5 February 1955 between Whitehaven and St Helens.
See Part 2. Whitehaven for the early history of the sports commentary service.
“In 1964 a new West Cumberland Hospital on the outskirts of Whitehaven, in Hensingham, was opened and commentaries diverted to this site”.
38.1 Hospital Radio Haven (1964/65)
In 1991 Jonathan Parr, programme controller and rugby league producer of Hospital Radio Haven, wrote: “Our studio broadcasts commenced soon after the opening of the new West Cumberland Hospital”.
“Originally the organisation was run by a group known as ‘Hospital Broadcast Services’ and following the switch to the new hospital and start of studio broadcasts, used the on-air name of ‘Channel Two-Hospital Radio’. This referred to the channel allocated to hospital radio on the hospital internal system. the organisation was renamed and re-Iaunched as ‘Hospital Radio Haven’ in January 1984”.
On 29 January 2000 Hospital Radio Haven was removed from the Charity Register 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XysMa7UpNtk
14 Nov 2012: Radio presenter Danny Holmes looks back on 50 years of hospital radio broadcasting at The West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.
Listed on HBA website in July 2016 as: Hospital Radio Haven broadcasting to the West Cumberland West Cumberland. http://www.hospitalradiohaven.co.uk/
Note: July 2016: Web Site link failure. Domain name may have expired. Service closed.
See Part 2. Wigan (1954) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
39.1 Radio Wrightington (1973)
Hospital Radio Wrightington started broadcasting to the Wrightington Hospital in 1973.
“In those days the hospital wanted someone who worked for them to be in charge of the station. The first Studio Manager was Charlie Fishwick, who worked in the stores at the hospital. When Charlie retired Phil Howard, who worked in the Path Lab, took over the role”.
“Broadcasting hours were limited as it was done by volunteers who had other jobs. There were two live shows, one on Saturday for two hours and the other Sunday. The two midweek shows were pre-recorded and aired on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio Wrightington. Wrightington Hospital. Contact: Charles Fishwick.
“A constant, and popular, feature of the station has been its live coverage of Wigan Rugby League and Wigan Athletic”.
On 22 October 2013 a new studio was officially opened in the Patient Information Centre at the Wrightington Hospital.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting to the Wrightington Hospital and the Wigan Infirmary, http://hospitalradiowrightington.co.uk/
Up to September 1984 the patients in hospitals in Winchester received programmes from Southampton HBA.
See Southampton for further information
40.1 Winchester Hospital Radio (1984)
“In the early 1980s Southampton HBA was facing a cash-flow problem, and they realised that the costs for the land lines from Southampton to Winchester were substantial. As a result, a small group of Southampton HBA members, all of who lived in Winchester, put together a proposal that a new Hospital Radio station should be set up in Winchester. The idea was presented to the Executive Committee at Southampton HBA, who gave the project their blessing. The group of now ex-Southampton HBA members became WHR’s first executive committee”.
“Then it was a “mere matter” of getting a site for the new studios, and raising a lot of money to actually build the studios. The hospital management were able to help us by providing a couple of rooms (located on the 2nd floor of a building at the rear of one of the smaller hospitals in Winchester). Sadly, they were unable to help with the money, so it was up to our new committee to raise the money we needed”.
Winchester Hospital Radio took over broadcasting to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCM) in Winchester from Southampton HBA on 24 September 1984.
“However, it was very quickly apparent that the space we had was very cramped. We only had one studio, which meant that any new presenters had to be trained at times, when we were not actually broadcasting. It also meant that if anything major failed, we would be off-air! As for any studio maintenance / improvements…this often happened at 11pm or later, when broadcasting had finished for the day!”.
“We also suffered from the fact that we were actually about a mile from the main hospital site, making it difficult to “nip up to the wards”. After many meetings with the hospital management, we finally received the good news that some new, on site, accommodation had been found for us – it was in an old pre-fabricated building, which had previously been the nurses’ changing rooms for the adjacent, and recently demolished, pre-fabricated operating theatres.”
“After 2 years of fund-raising (it cost approx £30,000) and building, we moved into our new studios in May 1992, and had our official opening on 6th June 1992”.
“In 1996, we installed our own network of land-lines from our studios to most of the wards in the hospital. This enables us to broadcast live from the wards, involving the patients in our programmes. Utilising equipment built into a flight-case that is easily plugged-in to the socket in the ward with radio mics and radio headphones to avoid trailing cables all around the ward”.
“During 2011, WHR vacated the studios we have occupied for the last 20 years because the land on the part of the hospital site we situated was being sold off. We currently reside in a small temporary studio on level C of the new Burrell Wing of the hospital, where we are even closer to the wards, and still able to provide patients with the personal and unique broadcasting service that hospital radio offers.
See Part 2. Wolverhampton (1955) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
41.1 Radio Wulfrun Hospital Broadcasting (1983)
Radio Wulfrun, the working name for Radio Wulfrun Hospital Broadcasting, started broadcasting from a studio in the New Cross Hospital in September 1983.
“The Station was funded by Marks & Spencer, New Cross Hospital League of friends, Patients Aid and WRVS”.
In 1985 the Royal Hospital was added to the service. Five years later, in 1990, the service to the Royal Hospital ceased in anticipation of the transfer of its patients to New Cross Hospital.
In 1997 Radio Wulfrun started broadcasting to the Deansley Centre.
Radio Wulfrun moved into new studios in the New Cross Hospital in 2010.
In 2016 Radio Wulfrun Hospital Broadcasting was broadcasting to the New Cross Hospital.
42.1 Choice Radio for the Worchester Royal (1974)
Choice Radio, originally known as Worcester Hospital Radio, started broadcasting in 1974 to the Newtown Hospital.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Worcester Hospital Radio. WHR Studio, Newtown Hospital. Contact: P F Dawson.
“For more than two decades, Choice broadcast as Worcester Hospital Radio. During the time, we had 3 different studio locations, all at Newtown Hospital. The last of these was in the old Chapel”.
“And we started life in “the hut on the green” at Newtown”.
On 27 September 2002 the service recommenced broadcasting from a studio in the new Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
“The “Richard Young Centre” which houses the studio complex is named after our former President and Richard Young’s widow, Sally, performed the naming ceremony, with Peter Tomlinson, the M.D. of Saga 105.7FM cutting the ribbon to officially open the studio centre”.
“Other guests included the Mayor of Worcester, Robert Rowden, our M.P., Michael Foster and the President of the Hospital Broadcasting Association, June Snowden, with representatives from many local organisations and media, as well, of course, as our own members”.
In 2016 Choice Radio, the working name for Choice Radio for the Worcestershire Royal, was broadcasting to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
43.1 Wordsley Hospital Broadcasting (1975)
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Wordsley Hospital Broadcasting. Youth Centre, Wordsley. Contact: P J Hayes.
In 2005 the Wordsley Hospital closed.
See Dudley for further information.
44.1 Radio Kilton (1972)
Started from an idea in the summer of 1972, supported by the Worksop Lions, Radio Kilton started broadcast to the Bassetlaw District General Hospital on Saturday 2 December 1972.
“In the beginning, equipment was limited and programmes consisting of music and requests only went out at the weekend. By Autumn of 1976 the station had its first purpose built facility, known today as Studio A”.
“In the following years membership and programming expanded and soon after the radio had its first outside broadcast. Continued expansion was seen in the 1980s and 1990s.
“In 2000, broadcasting went on free-to-air on 1278 MW, broadcasting 24/7. After a little more organization came another name change to what we know now as Trust AM”.
44.2 Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital Radio Service (Circa 2001)
Trust AM, the working name for the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospital Radio Service, took over the responsibility for broadcasting to the Bassetlaw District General Hospital in the about 2001. See 44.1.
45.1 Yeovil District Radio Association (1973)
Radio Camelot, the working name for Yeovil District Hospital Radio Association, started broadcasting to the Yeovil District Hospital on 6 June 1973.
“1973 saw the completion of an impressive new building that was to become the Yeovil District Hospital. At the same time the popularity of Hospital Radio was growing fast through the country, so why should the patients of this marvellous new hospital be deprived of its benefits? It was at the instigation of Ann Partridge that this idea first began to be taken seriously”.
“A press appeal was made for like minded helpers; a meeting of Hospital Administrators, League of Friends Officials and other interested people was held; and within a few months the idea came to fruition – Radio Camelot was born”.
“A small room was reserved within the new building – Wiring was installed together with headsets at every bedside – Technical advice came from Bristol and Bath hospital radio stations. Financial support came willingly from the League of Friends – Two turntables were borrowed from a local disco – An amplifier and mixer were loaned from a local music shop – records brought along by a few friends. All together this with a small band of willing volunteers possessing a great deal of dedication and enthusiasm, and Radio Camelot went “on air” on 6th June 1973. What a great excitement emanated from the first programme, and what determination those first presenters had.
“Bill Day recalls his first “Sunday Magazine” programme on the 10th June – “everything had been well prepared – the tape recorder had been tested and connected up – all the records were ready in their correct order – the script was ready. Then at 11.00 A.M – On the air for the first time – only to realise that the last two or three minutes I had been talking to myself. I had forgotten to turn on the all important switch that connects the studio to the wards”.
“June Burbage and Ernie David were out for a quiet drive to discuss their forthcoming wedding plans, and finished up becoming founder members of the Hospital Radio Station”.
“The summer months of 1973 were spent perfecting techniques and presentation readiness for the Official Opening on 25th September by Stuart Hutchinson & Gus Honeybun of Westward T.V”.
The history of the first hospital broadcasting service to start in York, which operated at the York County Hospital from 1926 until the mid 1930s, is covered in Part 1 (The Early Years 1919 to 1949).
See Part 2. York (About 1958) for the early history of the sports commentary service.
47.1 York Hospital Broadcasting Association (1964)
The idea to start a music based hospital broadcasting service in York in the 1960s came from some of the members of the York Tape Recorder Society. Their weekly meetings in a Micklegate shop led to a breakaway group in Acomb Community Centre, from where they began to produce taped shows for Acomb, Fulford Maternity and Naburn hospitals.
The first show was presented by Margaret Booth and Malcolm Smurthwaite on 26 January 1964. Operating the controls were four technicians, including Brian Snowden.
A letter prepared at this time by the “Friends of York Hospital (Ebor Tape Recording Club)” located at 10, Danesfort Avenue, read: “Have you heard about ‘Sunday Spin’? This is a record request programme broadcast every Sunday from 4pmto 5.30pm for patients in this hospital (not named). If you would like to cheer a relative or friend up, why not complete the form on the reverse side of this letter and send it to us at the above address. There is no charge and we would be very pleased to hear from you. Ebor Tape Recording Club”.
In 1993 Brian Snowden recalled: “We called the service the’ Acomb Cummunity Association Taped Service’ and we put out 2.5 hours of taped programmes per week. Other early members were Frank Burdett, Marjorie Brukwicki, Harry Pickard and Adrian Pickard. In the spring of 1965 we changed the name of the service to York Hospital Broadcasting Organisation”.
During the first few years these taped programmes were produced at the pathology lab at Fulford Military Hospital (1966) and at the Grange, Huntington Road (1967). It wasn’t until 8 December 1968, linked to the Radio Rentals network that was being used to relay the sports commentary service to nine hospitals, that programmes went out live from a studio located in the Grange. At this time the service was broadcasting about 10 hours per week.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Studio located in the Grange, Huntington Road. Name of Service: York Hospital Broadcasting Organisation. Contact: F E Pearson. 18 members. Sports service: York City, Leeds United and rugby. Service formed: 1964.
An article produced for the service in January 1975 stated: “We have already built up a close relationship with long-stay patients in Acomb and Bootham Park Hospitals, and are doing the same now at Nabum and St Mary’s. Our members are known personally, and the staff in some of the wards are actually asking us to call. We hope we will soon have the same opportunity at Clifton. We meet over 2,000 patients a year and interview for our ‘Down Your Ward’ programme about 250 on the air. We bring the City of York into the wards and help patients feel ‘at home’ with 100 record requests a week, football at least once a week during the season and so far over 60 transmissions from the Theatre and Minister in 18 months”.
An article printed a decade later, on 26th January 1985, to mark the 21st birthday of the York Hospital Broadcasting Service stated: “Today, the radio station broadcasts to five hospitals in the York area and has about 60 members. To mark Saturday’s special occasion some of the original presenters took part in a unique show. Between 10 and 12 on Saturday morning they got together to look back over the past 21 years. It was the first time ‘on air’ for these broadcasters for many years and their first chance to use the station’s new studio, home of hospital radio since late 1983“. Brian Snowden and Margaret Booth were still members of Hospital Radio in York in 1985.
In 1993 the service had 60 members and was broadcasting about 39 hours per week to the District, City and Bootham Park hospitals.
Newspaper report (19 Aug 2015): “York Hospital Radio DJ, Keith Lea celebrating 50 years on air”.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting from the “Basement Studios” in Bridge Lane to the York Hospital.