British Relay Television

Another long gone service, in 1968 there were over 1 million subscribers.

If you have any memories or thoughts to share feel free to comment below.

17 thoughts on “British Relay Television

  1. my parents were on radio relay in Chelsea in London in October 1939. They paid 7 shillings i.e 35 pence for the loudspeaker which they then owned. It was wired up to the relay system for which they paid around 1 shilling a week. There were 2 programmes. The BBC Home Service and later BBC Forces. In 1945 , The Forces became BBC Light Programme. In 1949 two more stations were added. BBC Third and a fourth station which provided popular music from abroad and radio Luxembourg in the evening. In 1955 television BBC and ITV were added.

  2. My family here in Ipswich were with British Relay Wireless from around 1960 to the service being wound up in the mid 1980s, all of the town centre and the large council estates were wired up for BRW…. I remember the bulky tv sets and the way you could receive radio as well as tv channels… we also had the luxury of an additional ITV channel in our case Thames/LWT as well as Anglia TV… My late grandmother was with the service right to the very end in 1985 when Visionhire who took over BRW stated the service was being discontinued, a BRW engineer called the same day as an aerial installer and a standard tv was installed instead… my Grandmother’s house still has the BRW plugs fitted in the living room! Happy memories of a great service!

  3. Darryl its highly likely my grandfather was that British relay engineer he worked for them in and around Ipswich for many years right up to the end and many of my childhood weekends were spent in British relay stations while he fixed fault. In the early 1980s when most kids had a 12″ portable tv if they were lucky myself and my cousins rather mysteriously all had matching large colour sets in our bedrooms which may possibly have been knocked off British relay monitors which he’d added tuners to.

    • Hi jkh!

      Only just read your reply, i remember passing the old BRW station at dales road in Ipswich and seeing 3 refuse skips filled to the top with old BRW sets….. Wish i could have nicked one for retro value! My uncle who lives in my gran’s old house still has the BRW sockets on the wall and the junction box on the front wall near the guttering! Some houses in the area still have the BRW cable strung between them and there are repeater boxes around the town……There is a facebook page for british relay wireless by the way……

    • He wasn’t Colin was he? That was the name of the chap who always called at our house on the Chantry Estate to fix the set!

  4. My father was employed by BRW from after the war until his retirement in the early 70’s! He ran the special services division working with Trusthouse Forte and the Hilton group! He was very much involved with St George’s hospital in Central London supplying specialised equipment for patient monitoring! Also was involved with the changing of the athletics starter gun after the Duke of Edinburgh approached him about the delays at the start, and he devised the microphone speakers by the blocks , so when the gun went off , it was heard simultaneously! I still have the starter gun from the 1947 Olympic Games!

    • I worked for BRSSD in 1977. Had my interview with Bob Schilling in the Streatham Office then worked with the small team out of the Upper Norwood depot. High Point was doing sound mixing at the THF owned Café Royal. Moved to Leeds office and worked hospitals and hotels all over Yorkshire. Great stuff for an 18yo!

      • I also was interviewed by Bob Shilling at the age of 16 and gained an apprenticeship with BR. I worked in the central control room and workshops in Walworth Road under the instruction of Ken Hitchcock.

        I spent 3 years learning a trade and have been in the electronic industry ever since. Many memories of the guys I worked with, Albert Hyem, Alan Tomlin, Noel Reed to name a few.

        Would love to hear from anyone who worked there.

  5. I worked in the Research and Development Lab under John Ford back in the early 1970’s. The R&D Lab was located at a pleasant site in Cleeve Road, Leatherhead. Bob Shilling who others have mentioned visited the Lab from time to time. I worked on cable TV colour technology, colour TV was still new at the time and I still had a black and white TV at home.

  6. My family roots are in the black country area of the West Midlands. Most of my family had the BRW service in their homes. This was in the late 50’s and early 60s and I particularly remember the then new BBC2 being displayed in lovely 625line quality on what I remember as a 17″ Murphy V410. As a young boy, I also remember the piercing line whistle at 15.625Khz. I wish I could hear up there now!. In addition, I remember the almost perfect reception of Radio Luxemburg via BRW. When I started college one of my fellow apprentices explained that it was a ‘diversity receiving system’ whereby two receivers at separate locations on the south coast were line fed to the distribution centre and the received audio combined. Theory being that the signal did not fade in the same way at separate locations. How expensive impressive and elaborate was that?

  7. I was a British Relay TV engineer based in Walthamstow in the 1970’s, first as a bench engineer, then later in the field. Good company to work for. Was there when we got taken over by Visionhire (not so good) and then worked for them up to 1981.

  8. I worked at British relay in the early 70s, in dales road, anybody out there worked there then, I had a Nick name at the time of ginger Tom .

  9. I worked as an outside Television Repair Engineer in Gloucester. A very good company to work for. Looked after their staff. I stayed with them after the take over by Visionhire. Some people in high places with this company had no knowledge of how to treat staff. I worked for them through the take over by Granada. Nothing to say about that company only the staff I worked with in Hereford and Cheltenham.

  10. Hi, I am researching this entire subject, including the start-up of PAY TV. I am interested in obtaining any detailed existing history of British Relay in all of its many forms – especially from Pilkington until the end. If you know of good, referenced sources, or if you have personal information (the comments so far have been excellent), I would appreciate reading them.

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