Bush House – a life in broadcasting

Published on 25 October 2004 in , , , , , , ,

Despite working for the BBC in London since January 2000, it wasn’t until the summer of 2003 when I first went inside Television Centre – the heart of the BBC’s television operations. And it wasn’t until round November 2003 when I first went into the neighbouring (and infamous) White City building.

So I haven’t had much time to get used to the place – despite the fact that in February 2005, BBC New Media will be making the move from the heart of the West End. Bush House no more as we head to the Broadcasting Centre, one of the new buildings next to White City.

I love Bush House and I will miss it. It’s such a grand, imposing and impressive building, standing as it does in the middle of the Aldwych – standing tall and grand in the middle of the road. It looks fantastic, and it feels fantastic. You feel honoured to work there.

And every morning I approach it. I walk across Waterloo Bridge – the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye on my left, Somerset House on the opposite bank, St Pauls and the Gerkin on the right, the Thames beneath me. Even in the most dreary of weather, it’s a walk that fills you with… something. A general happiness to be there. On a sunny day it feels fantastic – some of the best architecture in London in full view.

None of that in White City. Just some dreary houses, an Esso petrol station and yellow signs about muggings. Nothing evocative about that. Television Centre doesn’t look as inspiring in real life as it does on the small screen…

As we slowly decant from Bush, it’s also sad to note the end of broadcasting in the area. The area is rich in broadcasting history. Directly opposite Bush House was was Television House. Now called St. Catherine’s House, the old home to early ITV company Associated Rediffusion and ITN now houses Esso.

And nearby on the corner of the Strand and Aldwych, the old Marconi House (now the Marconi Wing of the very empty Citibank House) where the first radio broadcasts came from, and where the British Broadcasting Company found its first home.

And in an irony, we come full circle – well one that’s had a crowbar come along and make room for the nugget.. For in the Media Centre (another new building next to the Broadcast Centre in White City) there is on display to BBC staff right now, the original 2LO transmitter – the very same transmitter that was used by the Marconi company to broadcast from Marconi House in the Strand…

The BBC is the last broadcaster in the area, but from 2008 the BBC will have finally moved out – by all accounts a very favourable rent agreement will be coming to an end. And so with that will broadcasting in the area, also end. Which will be a very very sad day.