As the BBC celebrates its 80th anniversary of broadcasting in Bangor, North Wales, an appeal is being launched for people to share their memories of the BBC in the area.
Marking the important milestone, Bethan Williams, BBC Wales’s Head of Centre for North Wales, launched the appeal at a concert by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Bangor University.
“We’ve already done some internal research and found some fascinating pictures,” said Bethan, “but we’d really like to find out more about some of the key dates and events, not least the official opening of the original Bryn Meirion studio in Bangor in 1935. If anyone has any photos they can share, or recollections of taking part in programmes over the years, we’d be grateful if they could get in touch with us.
“We’re delighted to be working with the Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery in Bangor to collect people’s memories and memorabilia, and there are plans for organised days later in the year when people will be able to visit the studios or the museum with any photographs or other memorabilia they can donate or supply for copying. This will also be an opportunity to record people’s personal stories and memories, so that there’s a lasting legacy for future generations.”
Esther Roberts from Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery says: “This is an exciting opportunity to get involved in celebrating 80 years of the BBC in Bangor. The BBC has a long and significant role in Bangor’s history over recent decades, and we hope people will contribute their own memories, stories, photos and objects. Gwynedd Council is currently leading a £2.6m project with Bangor University to re-develop the Museum and Gallery, these contributions will form part of an exhibition this autumn when it relocates to the Bishop’s Palace in Bangor.”
Today the BBC’s work in north Wales, including the Wrexham studio based on the Glyndŵr University campus as well as in Bangor, means that around 100 people are employed in the area, working mainly on BBC Wales’s output on TV, radio and online in Welsh and in English. Around half of all BBC Radio Cymru staff work from Bangor and daily programmes such as Post Cyntaf, Rhaglen Dylan Jones and Post Prynhawn are produced and presented there.
Factual programmes are also produced in Bangor for both S4C and BBC Wales’s English language TV, and the BBC’s Audience Services unit for Wales is based there - handling audience feedback from Wales for all BBC services in English and in Welsh.
In comparison, only a handful of programme makers were employed when BBC Bangor first opened in 1935, contributing programmes originally to a single radio transmitter for Wales, before a second transmitter on Anglesey was later launched in 1937.
World War Two soon followed, and in October 1940 the BBC’s main Variety Department, and famous names such as Tommy Handley, Arthur Askey and Charlie Chester, were relocated to the city, tasked with providing light entertainment shows to millions of radio listeners across the UK when the studios in London, and later Bristol, were deemed to be at too much risk of bombing. They stayed in Bangor until August 1943.
As the war drew to a close the BBC in Bangor returned to its original task of providing programmes for listeners across Wales and, over the years, the studio has been home to some of the most prominent Welsh voices and some of BBC Wales’s best broadcasters, including the original founder Sam Jones, as well other well-known names such as R Alun Evans, Bedwyr Lewis Jones, Gwilym Owen, Meredydd Evans and many more.
A selection of old photographs from the early years of the BBC in Bangor is available on BBC Cymru Fyw.