Science and Industry Museum celebrates 100 years of the BBC



The BBC turns 100 this year and to mark the occasion The Science and Industry Museum has introduced a new display. Showcasing Manchester as a hub of innovation in broadcasting, the display takes visitors on a journey from the early radio experiments in the 1920s, right up to the innovations of today.

Combining the museum’s collection of historic, never-before-seen objects, with cutting-edge technologies being developed today, the temporary display will feature 14 objects and photographs. Each item will be accompanied by a story, covering the past, present and future of the broadcaster’s time in Manchester.

Lewis Pollard, Curator of Television and Broadcast at the Science and Industry Museum said: “We are delighted to be able to tell the amazing story of the BBC in Manchester and to celebrate the achievements of such an iconic organization through this small but important display. The BBC has played such an integral role in making Manchester the creative and technologically innovative city it is today, so we can’t wait to be able to share its incredible history and what it is doing to make broadcast even more exciting for future generations. ”

Visitors will have the chance to discover the history behind the city’s first radio station, 2ZY, which was created by Metropolitan Vickers, one of the founders of the BBC, at their factory in Trafford Park. From here, they ran experiments that led to the first official broadcast from 2ZY in 1922.

Many people were inspired by this first broadcast to build their own radio sets so they could tune into the new form of media. The display includes a ‘Goltone’ crystal radio and headphones made by Ward & Goldstone in Salford in 1923, as well as a photograph of customers listening to the radio at the Butcher’s Arms in the same year.

Meanwhile, photographs documenting what it was like to work and perform at the studio will be on show, including one of Manchester-born soprano, Isobel Baillie performing. Similarly, visitors can listen to original broadcasts and get up close to one of the only surviving objects from the time – a radio transmission valve from the original Trafford Park station.

Over the last decade, innovators at the BBC’s Research and Development labs at MediaCity have been busy transforming the way we view and hear programs across the BBC network. This spans the BBC Box, which learns what you like from your viewing habits and the BBC Perceptive Radio – a device that listens to its environment to adjust the volume and make voices stand out against background noise.

The display will launch the Science Museum Group’s Broadcast 100 season of celebrations marking the centenary of the BBC and 40 years of Channel 4. New temporary exhibitions, special displays and public events can also be found at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and the Science Museum in London, which will explore the way we connect with and consume entertainment.

While The Power Hall at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum is currently being restored as part of a multi-million pound restoration project, there’s still a wide range of activities and events taking place at the museum. To find out more, visit their site here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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