Friday, April 05, 2013

2 Savoy Place - where the BBC began

Back to 2 Savoy Place, the venue for the Candidates chess tournament in London.

It was opened in 1889 as an examination hall for the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons. It was taken over by the Institution of Electrical Engineers and is still occupied by its successor, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

More than that, the building was the first home of the BBC when radio broadcasts began in 1923. A page on the BBC's own site records:
Early radio contributors in Savoy Hill included HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw, who were offered whisky and soda as they relaxed in the atmosphere of a gentlemen’s club. Here, radio drama flourished, weather forecasts and Big Ben chimes were introduced, and listeners could even follow cricket coverage. 
However, broadcasting developed exponentially – two studios quickly became nine, and the cramped but cosy environment of Savoy Hill was abandoned when the BBC moved to its first purpose-built centre, Broadcasting House in Regent St. The BBC left the site in May 1932.
And the IET site records adds:
In 1922 a meeting of 200 companies held in our Lecture Theatre resulted in the formation of the British Broadcasting Company.
That lecture theatre is where the Candidates tournament was played.

Later. @langrabbie suggests that the BBC was housed in Savoy Hill House, which stands behind Savoy Place and is also owned by the IET.


Anonymous said...

It took me a while to realise that the IET is the successor of the venerable IEE.

Has there ever been a more dramatic top-class tournament than the Candidates? It had a fitting setting.

David said...

Here is a link to the early history of the radio in Britain, 2LO Calling. The page includes some links to actual sounds broadcast including "Just a song at twilight".

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks - I love those transmitters on top of Selfridge's (where I sold chess computers in an earlier life).