Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 07, 2019
Webpage updated: November 13, 2019




Following the demise of the British Broadcasting Company's radio station 5PY on the evening of Monday January 15th 1934 there were no further local radio broadcasts in Plymouth for a few years.  The Plymouth transmitter simply relayed programmes from London.

Then on May 6th 1939 it was announced that the Corporation, as it had become in 1927, had purchased the house "Ingledene" in Seymour Road at Mannamead for use as a studio and concert hall.  The house had at one time been the home of Sir James Douglass, builder of the fourth and present lighthouse on the Eddystone Rocks.  This new studio would be used in conjunction with a new transmitter at Start Point, on the south Devon coast.

"Children's Hour" was locally produced at that time and in typical BBC style was short-changed: it in fact lasted only 45 minutes between 5.15pm  and 6pm.  It spawned the "Plymouth Radio Circle", which had 4,900 members in 1933.  The last "Children's Hour" from Plymouth was broadcast on Saturday January 13th 1934 and replaced by a London programme.

Transmissions from the Start Point Transmitter started on Tuesday June 14th 1939.  Unfortunately War was about to be declared and the transmissions ceased on Thursday September 1st 1939, the same date on which London started transmitting the BBC Home Service.  The Government were afraid that the signals from Start Point could act as a guide to enemy aircraft.  However, trials were conducted which resulted in the BBC Home Service being transmitted from Start Point from January 20th 1940 and a Force's Programme was started on February 18th 1940.  The latter was short-lived ands ceased again on September 15th 1940.

"Music While You Work", a programme of continuous, lively music for those in factories, was first broadcast on Sunday June 23rd 1940 at 10.30am.  Mr Dudley Beaven at the theatre organ provided the music.  A second programme at 3pm was played by a trio called "The Organolists".  In October 1940 the programme acquired a signature tune, "Calling  All Workers", by Eric Coates.  The programme was destined to run for 27 years, until the end of the BBC Light Programme on Friday September 29th 1967, and to be revived for a short time in 1983.

With the Second World War coming to an end, things started to get back to normal.  The BBC Light Programme and the BBC  West of England Home Service commenced broadcasting on July 29th 1945 followed by the BBC Third Programme on September 29th 1946.

On June 1st 1946 the radio licence fee was increased from ten shillings to one pound and a new combined radio/television licence was introduced at 2.  The television reception was in black and white only, of course.

Radio listeners of a certain age will remember "Uncle Mac", the presenter of the BBC's "Children's Favourites" for just over ten years.  It may not been known that Mr Derek Ivor Breashur McCulloch, to give him his full name, was born in Plymouth on November 18th 1897.  After service in the Great War, in both the infantry and the Royal Flying Corps, he went to work for the railways in Argentina.  When that came to an end he returned to England where he underwent an operation to remove a bullet from his lung.  In 1930 he joined the BBC and presented "Children's Hour" for the next twenty years until he resigned in 1950.  He returned to the air waves again in 1954 as the host of the very popular "Children's Favourites" request programme every Saturday morning.  He was also known for being the voiced of Larry the Lamb in the "Toytown" programmes.  Mr McCulloch was awarded the OBE in 1964 and retired in 1965.  Mr Derek Ivor Breashur McCulloch, "Uncle Mac", died at Hayward's Heath, on June 1st 1967.

On June 1st 1954 the combined radio/television licence fee was increased to 3.  In August 1957 the Government imposed excise duty on the combined radio/television licence, which increased it to 4.  The excise duty imposed in August 1957 was removed in October 1963 but the licence remained at 4.  On August 1st 1965 the radio licence went up to 1 5s and the combined licence to 5.  A reorganisation of the BBC brought about the end of the Light Programme on Friday September 29th 1967.  From January 1st 1968 there was a new radio/colour television licence, which cost 10.  The radio only licence was abolished from February 1st 1971.  Since then increases have been too numerous to list, with the radio/colour TV one going over the 100 mark in April 1999.

Local broadcasting by the BBC finally reached its zenith with the starting of BBC Radio Devon on January 17th 1983.  Its headquarters are in Exeter rather than Plymouth, although the latter feeds in a great deal of input.  At first the programmes were run from Portacabins until the permanent studios were officially opened on September 30th 1983 by the then Director-General of the BBC, Alastair Milne.