On 15 March 1932 the bandleader Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra featured in the first ever radio broadcast from Broadcasting House, the headquarters of the BBC, then and now. Two months later the Art Deco styled steel-framed building covered in Portland Stone was officially opened. It was well-liked as soon as it was built and the Architectural Review described it as ‘The new Tower of London’.
The life of Broadcasting House began in 1928 when a property development consortium bought a site at the southern end of Portland Place. The BBC, who were desperate for a new headquarters, persuaded the consortium not to build the high-class block of flats that they originally intended to create but to develop the site for the Corporation instead.
The consortium’s architect, G Val Myer, worked with the splendidly named Marmaduke T. Tudsbury (the BBC’s Civil Engineer since January 1926) on a proposal for the new BBC headquarters and presented it in July, 1928. They stated that “the building, as planned, will give all the accommodation required for the present needs of the Corporation besides leaving a reserve of more than twenty thousand feet of excellent office space on the first and second floors, which together with the shops and bank on the ground and sub-ground floors … it is proposed to let off to other tenants”. The building of Broadcasting House began soon after.
The BBC expanded quickly, as they have ever since, and the idea to have shops on the ground floor never materialised.
These fabulous photos all appear online at the BBC Flickr site here.