London Calling... 2LO Calling

The set of equipment which transmitted the BBC’s first ever programme, in 1922, is now part of the Science Museum’s collections. Find out here about its eventful history and preservation.

2LO

In 1929, 2LO closed down and was replaced by high-power transmitters at Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire. The Marconi House transmitter was taken there as a reminder of the pioneering days. Twenty-five years later, however, it was in need of tender loving care. This was administered by enthusiastic BBC engineers Charles Sutton and Ray Milligan, who rebuilt the transmitter, as far as possible, to its original design.

In recent times 2LO has been kept at the former Daventry transmitting station in Northamptonshire. During 2002, the Science Museum reached an agreement with the BBC and Crown Castle International Ltd, the owners of 2LO, for the transmitter to be donated to the Museum. A few weeks before 2LO was handed over to the Science Museum, Barry Marshall, the Museum’s Conservation Manager, visited its then home at Daventry to prepare the equipment for transport.

The delicate transmitting valves on 2LO needed careful handling while the transmitter was moved first to Birmingham for the BBC’s 80th-birthday concert at Symphony Hall on 7 November 2002, and from there to the Science Museum’s store at Blythe House, West Kensington. At a reception after the BBC concert Lord Puttnam, an NMSI Trustee, formally accepted 2LO on behalf of the Science Museum from Gavyn Davies, BBC Chairman, and Peter Abery, President and Managing Director of Crown Castle UK Ltd.