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Television House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Television House
61 Aldwych (geograph 5388216).jpg
The building in 2013
General information
Architectural styleEdwardian
Town or cityLondon
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates51°30′48″N 0°07′02″W / 51.513393°N 0.117279°W / 51.513393; -0.117279
Technical details
Size9 storeys, 180,000 sq ft (16,722.5 m2) floor space

Television House, on Kingsway in London was, from 1955, the London headquarters of Associated-Rediffusion, Independent Television News (ITN), TV Times magazine, the Independent Television Companies Association and, at first, Associated TeleVision. It was later the headquarters of 'Rediffusion London' and its successor, Thames Television.

History

Adastral House

The Kingsway area had been redeveloped at the start of the 20th century from slums and tenement housing into a broad avenue with grand office buildings and expensive town houses.

After the formation of the Air Ministry in 1918, its headquarters was on Kingsway; one of two identical buildings opposite Bush House became Adastral House, the name being derived from the RAF motto. This remained the home of the Air Ministry through World War II, and the roof of the building in 1940 during The Blitz is where, while fire-watching, Arthur Harris, made the remark about the bombing to a companion, "Well, they are sowing the wind...". The building became famous after the war because the central London temperatures and wind speeds were measured from its roof by the Met Office, and announced as such during the BBC weather forecasts.

Television House

In 1954, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) awarded the first two contracts for the new ITV commercial television system. Because the BBC had previously held a monopoly on broadcasting, there were no non-BBC television studio facilities in the UK. Associated-Rediffusion, as one of the two contractors, needed to build from scratch a whole new facility. The company had hired Thomas Brownrigg as General Manager, partially due to his extensive knowledge of planning and project management, which would be needed in simultaneously building a new company and its studios and headquarters.

British Electric Traction, majority owner of Associated-Rediffusion, bought the freehold on Adastral House from the government. Brownrigg engaged Bovis Limited (later Bovis Construction) to gut the building internally and build a new suite of offices, technical facilities and studios to be called Television House. This was begun in early 1955 and, with a planned start date for ITV of 22 September 1955, was worked on at great speed, virtually 24 hours a day.

Four small studios (numbered 7, 8, 9 and 10) were built inside the building, mainly for current affairs and continuity use (the main large studios, now The Fountain Studios, were constructed on the site of the former 20th Century Fox studios in Wembley in Middlesex). Additionally, office space and dining facilities for over 1,000 people was created. A suite of management offices, complete with oak-panelled boardroom, was built.

The original headquarters and studio facilities of ITN were located on the seventh and eighth floors of the building.

TV Times, part-owned by Associated-Rediffusion, occupied offices in the building from 1957 until April 1958.

A computer room, housing an early mainframe computer that controlled advertising bookings, was added on the second floor in 1966.

Associated TeleVision (ATV) inhabited Television House for the first few years of broadcasting, mainly just for office accommodation rather than studio facilities. For a period early in ITV's history, Associated-Rediffusion provided this space for free as part of the effort to keep ITV afloat during the financial crisis of 1955-1957.

St Catherine's House

In the 1967 ITV contract round, the ITA awarded the London weekday contract to a joint company made up of ABC Weekend TV and Rediffusion Television, Thames Television. This new company had a surplus number of studios in London. The Wembley studios were therefore sold to the then-new London Weekend Television. Thames, controlled by the former ABC, decided that a brand new studio complex, equipped from the start for colour broadcasting and located out of the centre of London would be more appropriate.

Thames used Television House as its headquarters whilst the building of the new Thames Television House in Euston took place.

When Television House was vacated in the early 1970s, it was again occupied by the government, this time the General Register Office, where it housed the birth, marriage and death certificates of the English and Welsh populations. The building was renamed St Catherine's House.

In the 1990s, the building was vacated by the General Register Office, which moved to Southport in Merseyside, and, after extensive refurbishment, it became the UK headquarters of ExxonMobil.

Centrium

After ExxonMobil left, the building was renamed "The Centrium" and housed a number of corporations, including Herman Miller, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, SVG Capital, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Ashmore Group, Tishman Speyer and Interconnector UK

61 Aldwych

Later, the building was renamed "61 Aldwych" by the manager Tishman Speyer.[1] Tenants still include the Nursing and Midwifery Council[2] and Herman Miller [3]

Production space

  • Studio 7: 702 sq ft (65.2 m2). 33' by 24' = 10 m x 7.3 m
  • Studio 8: 950 sq ft (88 m2). 38' by 25' = 11.6 m x 7.6 m
  • Studio 9: 2,416 sq ft (224.5 m2). 64' by 40' = 19.5 m x 12.2 m
  • Studio 10: 312 sq ft (29.0 m2). 26' by 12' = 8 m x 3.7 m
  • Master Control: 900 sq ft (84 m2).
  • Maintenance Workshop: 1,150 sq ft (107 m2).
  • VTR (with 2x Ampex video recorders): 320 sq ft (30 m2).
  • Telecine (with 2x Cintel, 1x RCA Vidicon and 2x EMI Flying Spot telecine machines): 1,150 sq ft (107 m2).
  • Rehearsal rooms x6: 7,500 sq ft (700 m2).
  • Projector theatres x 6
  • Cutting rooms x15
  • Dubbing theatre

References

  • Croston, Eric ITV 1963 London: Independent Television Authority 1963
  • Various authors A Guide to Rediffusion Television Studios London: Rediffusion Television Ltd April 1967
  • Elliott, Ronald (Ed.) Fusion: Associated-Rediffusion's House Magazine number 19, June 1961
  • Graham, Russ J London Calling undated, accessed 21 February 2006
  • Centrium, accessed 7 February 2008

External links

This page was last edited on 9 March 2019, at 10:56
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