Essex

BBC Essex mixing desk to become Science Museum piece

BBC Essex radio desk
Image caption The Mark III mixing desk has been in operation at BBC Essex since 1986

A 28-year-old mixing desk used by BBC Essex is to be stored at the Science Museum in London as part of a move to help preserve a bygone era of radio.

The Mark III mixing desk used by the BBC in Chelmsford since 1986 is being replaced with new technology.

The desks, designed in the 1970s, were among the last to be designed and built by the BBC, and are still in operation at a handful of stations.

A Science Museum spokesman said the desk was an "exciting new acquisition".

John Liffen, of the museum, described the equipment as "a valuable device to explore how people's relationship with radio has changed over time".

Image caption BBC Essex's existing studios will be upgraded as part of the Virtual Local Radio (ViLoR) project
Image caption The Mark III desk was invented by BBC designers in the 1960s

The desk was designed ahead of the rapid expansion of the BBC local radio network.

Geoff Woolf, a technology development manager at the BBC, said: "The Mk III is entirely analogue as digital audio was very much still in its infancy, with CD players considered to be luxury items.

"Accommodating PCs, screens and keyboards was not on the agenda when these were designed as in 1986 computers and software to provide studio solutions was still 15 years away.

Image caption The ViLoR project will see an upgrade of studio equipment and a centralisation of background technology

"It is more a piece of furniture than a technology solution; the carcass that accommodates the electronics being hand crafted from solid wood, it looks like a sideboard with buttons and switches.

"It undoubtedly has a certain charm."

Editor of BBC Essex, Gerald Main, said: "After 28 years using the same desk, we will be shedding a tear when the Mark III desk leaves the building.

"I am delighted that BBC Essex's desk will be going to a good home to be treasured, for the nation, by the Science Museum."

The change is part of the BBC's Virtual Local Radio (ViLoR) project to upgrade stations while reducing running costs.

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