Not quite a trail of tears, but close....
You wouldn't think it today, but Birmingham bristles with unlikely old radio and TV studio locations. Some are completely untraceable; some hold strong memories. You can still spot traces of some of them dotted across the city.
So here's a guide. You really can walk this if you want to, although it's a bit of trek to get out to Edgbaston and back, just to see a building site...
Aston Cross: Radio House
The trail starts with Radio House at Aston Cross.
Once, Aston, birthplace of Ozzy, was a bustling inner city suburb, but much of it has gone. The Hippodrome site now houses a Staples.
When BRMB launched in 1974, with ATV as shareholders, they moved into the ATV's old admin block, installed studios on the top floor, and named it Radio House. It's still there, but now it's just an office block again, although it did house a web station for a spell. ATV moved to large city centre premises on Broad Street. That's now being demolished.
Gosta Green: Aston University and the Beeb
This started life as another cinema in Gosta Green, another once thriving inner city neighbourhood. The cinema became one of the many Birmingham BBC locations, pressed into use as a television studio.
After the BBC moved out in the 70s, it was eventually converted to house the Birmingham Arts Lab in the late 70s. The frontage remains.
|From Elliott Brown's Flickr Stream|
As well as at Aston, the BBC operated out of Broad Street in the city and Carpenter Road in Edgbaston.
They moved everything to Pebble Mill Road in 1971. Pebble Mill Studios ran until 2004, delivering a raft of TV and Network output, and housed BBC WM from its start in 1970.
Trivia note: Pebble Mill was the birthplace of Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson. He didn't like Pebble Mill very much.
There's nothing left to see there now. The old site has been redeveloped.
The BBC moved to its current location, The Mailbox, in 2004. We'll head there at the end of the trail, but for now, let's spare a thought for top pirate outfit PCRL, which operated from of all sorts of places in Handsworth and beyond.
Those days are over. It's cheap, easy and legal to put up your own web station, and there's dozens of outfits following in their footsteps.
Traces of long-lost commercial operations
Face south, and look up.
25 years on, you can still make out an ancient, faded billboard running along the top of the building.
This was for Buzz FM. It's all that's left of a station that flared briefly in the 90s.
Buzz FM launched in 1990, but only lasted four years. There is, however a direct link between this ill-fated operation and what is now, ironically, one of the city's most popular commercial stations. After Buzz folded, the license went to Urban outfit Choice FM. Choice bumped along for a while, then was bought and sold by larger groups, several times.
|Flickr: Elliott Brown|
Flickr - James Cridland
And if you walk back up from Holloway Circus along Suffolk Street Queensway, nodding to the Mailbox where the BBC now lives, up to Broad Street, you'll be where Central, inheritors of the old ABC/ATV operation, used to run from.
Looking out from the shot below, there was another old BBC site, a hundred yards to the right up Broad Street. This view is taken from the Library of Birmingham. In this shot, you're looking straight out over the huge old Central TV complex. back down towards the Mailbox.
|Flickr - Elliott Brown|
It's not a lot to show for well over half a century of brilliant work. And there'll be even less in the future, I'm afraid.
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