Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009
From Cardiff, this is BBC Wales
Mostyn Thomas performs at BBC's Cardiff station 5WA in 1923.
Mostyn Thomas performs at BBC's Cardiff station 5WA in 1923.

Cardiff has provided a variety of locations for BBC broadcasting in Wales for more than eighty years.

From the tiny city centre home of station 5WA in 1923, BBC Wales expanded rapidly into larger premises in Park Place and a string of other studios.

Since 1966 a purpose-built Broadcasting House in Llandaff has been HQ for BBC Wales' radio, TV and online services.

Cardiff Bay is home to a political unit and the National Orchestra of Wales is based at the Wales Millennium Centre.

Early days

Dafydd y Garreg Wen was sung by Mostyn Thomas from a tiny studio above a music shop at 19 Castle Street, Cardiff on 13 February 1923 marking both the first broadcast of BBC Wales and the first Welsh words heard on British radio.

Now a supermarket, the building is still there today and carries only a small reminder of its historic days, in the form of a commemorative wall plaque.

In March 1924 the BBC moved to larger premises at 39 Park Place, later taking over other properties in the street as its Cardiff station expanded to cover more of Wales and the west country, until local and regional broadcasting was interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939.

Newsreader Michael Aspel in 1957

Post war expansion including the arrival of television prompted the BBC to purchase a ten acre site at Llandaff in 1952 to house all its operations in the city.

A young Michael Aspel (right) was among the new faces hired by BBC Wales to present its growing number of programmes.

But construction of the new headquarters was delayed due to the cost of the project, so in 1955 the Broadway Methodist Chapel in Roath - followed in 1959 by premises in nearby Stacey Road - were taken over to accommodate the fledgling television service.

A temporary broadcasting centre was also set up on the banks of the River Taff near Cardiff Arms Park in 1958 to cover the Empire Games.

Building BH

Construction of BH - Broadcasting House at Llandaff - finally began in 1963. Radio studios came into use in autumn 1966, and the building was officially opened on 1 March 1967, by HRH Princess Margaret.

BBC Broadcasting House, Llandaff, 2003
Broadcasting House, Llandaff, 2003
Site of BBC Broadcasting House, Llandaff, 1966
Site of Broadcasting House, 1966


The two tall trees in the pictures, flanking the main block of Broadcasting House, are clearly the same ones from the days when the site was occupied by Baynton House (left), an old Bassett family homestead.

The house survived the initial building phase, and was used by the BBC for several years until it was demolished in 1975 to make way for the E-Block extension.

In 1986 the BBC bought the Home Economics college across the road from Broadcasting House, renaming it Ty Oldfield as a tribute to former controller Alun Oldfield-Davies.

Across the city

At various times over the years, the BBC has occupied premises at other locations in Cardiff, including Celtic Road, Gabalfa; Newport Road in Roath; above the Spar shop in Llandaff village; and Charles Street in the city centre.

BBC Wales has a city centre presence today in the form of the Big Screen outside St David's Hall.

In recent years the BBC has developed a presence in Cardiff Bay, first with its political unit based in the Assembly building.

In January 2009 the BBC National Orchestra of Wales officially opened its new home, Hoddinott Hall at the Wales Millennium Centre.

As for BH in Llandaff, BBC Wales management is currently considering whether the needs of the digital age would be best served by redeveloping the forty year old premises or moving to a new location.


Here are some memories from people who worked at or remember the various BBC premises in Cardiff

Cheryl Nicol, Australia
Baynton House, which stood on the present day site of BH, was built 1866-8 for Alexander Bassett, a Civil Engineer, and named after his wife's childhood home of the same name in East Coulston, Wiltshire. During the 1870s Alexander gave an annual treat to the children of the Industrial Schools when they were entertained with amusements and games in the grounds of the house. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined the fun 100 years later!

Iola Protheroe
After a long hard day working as an Assistant Floor Manager on a drama in the studios in Broadway, I trudged to the bus stop in Newport Road, thinking that my AFM's bag, always crammed with useful work things, was especially heavy that day. When I got to the bus stop, it landed with a clink on the pavement, I looked inside, and Cyril Farqhuar, one of the security men on the desk, had put a whopping great seven pound stage weight in it !!!!

Liz Horne from Cardiff
My first visit to BH was on a school trip in 1967. We walked over from Ysgol Gymraeg Bryntaf in Gilian Road, and saw a concert in Studio 1. I remember sitting in the gallery overlooking the studio floor, which has since been removed. Ten years later in 1977, I started working in BH full time. So I remember the old radio studio and continuity desks, battleship grey OB vehicles, no open plan offices in the corridors, and soft toilet paper ONLY (allegedly) on the 3rd floor. I also remember the building of C1 studio, and the old stables, where Tech Stores used to be situated. Anyone remember Greg the postman?

Gwenda Richards
As a young girl our school was often asked to take part in BBC programmes at short notice at the studios in Broadway. I remember dancing as part of the audience in Disg a Dawn and a few other kids' programmes. We were given squash and crisps for our efforts while those of us who were performing at HTV studios in Pontcanna were each given 25 shillings!!! How times have changed!!

Ken Geen
There were two converted churches - the one in Stacey Road was used for TV News (Wales Today), and in that building there was also a Film Unit Dubbing area run by Des Bennett. Broadway housed the main TV Studios, A and B. A was the larger, where they did shows such as 'Disc a Dawn' (Welsh Pop Scene), plays, discussion progs etc, and Studio B where smaller programmes were made. Studio A became famous for the programme about firework safety, when one went off and the whole thing was being recorded!

When they opened BH in Llandaff, I can remember vividly casually walking across the balcony up towards the Studio 4, 5, 6 area, and who should be coming down but Princess Margaret. She had been on a tour of the building having just officially opened it, and was returning to reception accompanied by Controller and someone else. Can you imagine that scenario today? I wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the balcony on my own!

Dewi Griffiths
I joined the BBC as a Technical Assistant in May 1954 - and I'm still here. During my time with the Welsh Home Service in Park Place, and later as a Sound Supervisor in TV, we often used a music studio in Charles Street. I was a cameraman in Broadway Studios, both the big chapel and the vestry in Sapphire Street. I directed television sports programmes from both Broadway and Stacey Road - designed to accommodate news while a proper studio was being built. Exactly 40 years ago I directed the TVOB when Princess Margaret opened the present BH - you ain't heard nothin' yet!

Tim Ricketts
Many a famous programme passed through Stacey Road - most notably The District Nurse, with Nerys Hughes. I mixed two series of that in Stacey, and the producer was Julia Smith, whom I remember telling me that whilst in Wales she'd had an idea for a soap set in London that she hoped would run for a while. EastEnders had been born!

Ceri Andrews from Cardiff
My dad, Jake Andrews, worked for a department called MHOSW (Manager, House and Office Services, Wales) which was in charge of overseeing the building of BH. I remember playing in the foundations when I was about 5 or 6 and then later when I was 16 I learnt the basics of how to drive on the site where Studio C1 is now. I've worked in BH for nearly 29 years so have seen some changes. My dad still has some little blue guest towels at home that were used on March 1st 1967 when Princess Margaret officially opened the building. Goodness I suddenly feel very old!

Debbie Evans
Who can forget the games of rounders on the front lawn of Gabalfa, and Shirley who worked on the trolley? Not to mention the Christmas Lunches and Crews Booze!!!!!!! The best days ever!

Paul Burgess
The large Gabalfa site in Celtic Road started life as the local office of the CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board), later passing to British Steel in the same capacity. By 1984 the BBC had its Film Unit there, with cutting rooms, dubbing and viewing theatres. It was a very pleasant place to work, with extensive grounds and a proliferation of rose beds.

Gaynor Witchard
I started work at BH in 1978 at the tender age of 19 (!!!) I remember an old lodge situated at the Bridge Road entrance to the paddock. We (then known as 'Registry') used to keep old scripts in there dating back years. It was finally knocked down as the whole building was held up with scaffolding - and we used to regularly go in there to find old documents (wouldn't be allowed now!) Also, there was Sid the gardener based down there, with his little greenhouse, and we often used to chat about his tomatoes and plants he grew in there ... ahh, those were the days...




SEE ALSO
BBC orchestra moves into new home
22 Jan 09 |  South east
In pictures: BBC Hoddinott Hall
23 Jan 09 |  Music
Big Screen showcases major events
05 Feb 10 |  TV & Radio

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