• First Scottish transmitter opens at
    Kirk-O-Shotts on 14th March.
  • 1.8 million TV licenses by the end of the year

At the start of the year, with purchase tax at a mighty 66.6%, Customs and Excise agreed to exempt purchase tax on all televisions that project pictures on to a large screen, "large" being defined as at least 4ft x 3ft. This concession was made in the light of the fact that many such receivers were used in hospitals and nursing homes and were also being considered for use in a possible schools when special educational programmes might become available.

Arnos Secondary Modern, used in the TV for schools experiment [14K]
Classroom of Arnos Secondary Modern School,
used in the television for schools experiment.

On the 5th May the BBC broadcasts experimental schools programmes, the first such experiment in the world. Programmes lasting 20 to 30 mins were broadcast mid-afternoon on weekdays for four weeks to six local schools in north London, using televisions lent free of charge by manufacturers. Transmission details were rather peculiar - the vision signal was transmitted from Alexandra Palace on a special wavelength whilst the sound was sent to the selected schools via a land line.

There was much debate over the value of these broadcasts; many teachers were against them, claiming that television would not provide anything more than was already possible using film strips, micro-slides and moving film, where the teacher had direct control over them. This point received some support when the first science broadcast covered an experiment that, it was pointed out, could just as easilly have been given in an average school using readily available apparatus. I assume the tests wern't deemed a success since regular schools broadcasts would not commence for another five years in 1957.

Around 50% of television sets were bought on credit terms, often referred to as "Hire Purchase" whereby a small fraction of the set's cost was paid up-front and small payments were made regularly thereafter until the set had been paid for. For some reason the Government decided to try and discourage the public from purchasing such expensive items by forcing the initial payment to be at least 33.3% of the cost of an item with the remaining payments being made within the following 18 months. This imposition was anounced only two days before its being introduced on the 1st February and couldn't have come at a worse time for television sales with the opening of the Scotland's first TV transmitter, at Kirk-o-Shotts, little over one month away. This, on top of the fact that largely thanks to tax increases the cheapest TV set was now some 60% higher than when the more affluent South of England had bought their sets, no doubt put a major damper on the launch of television in Scotland.


19th National Radio and Television Exhibition (27th August - 6th September)

Of the 35 manufacturers displaying televisions at the show 10 displayed projection models. Three of these manufacturers only showed projection models; White Ibbotson and Valradio only ever produced projection models, however the third was, suprisingly, Decca who also displayed the most expensive television set of the show and which had also been shown at the previous year's show. Projection sets reached their peak sales in 1952 yet still only represented 2% of sales.

Most new models at the show used rectangular CRT's which were aluminised. The 9-inch tube was just about deceased, with only two such models at the show. 60% of sets were 12" with 30% using 14"/15" tubes.

One interesting product at the show was a window aerial coupler displayed by Wolsey. People living in rented accomodation were often not in a position to go drilling holes in wals and window frames for an aerial feeder. This new product consisted of two small units that could be placed either side of a glass window pane with each containing a tuned coil. These would form an RF transformer, coupling the tV signal into the building without direct contact between the two units.


Electrostatic Focussing

All sets to date had used either a permanent magnet or an electormagnet to focus the CRT electron beam. But in early 1951 in the United States televeions were being introduced which dispensed with these types of magnets, focussing being performed using electrostatic principles. The driving force behind was not one of technical improvement but was actually an effort to conserve raw materials such as copper and cobalt which were being stock-piled for the American defence programme. It was estimated that 2Lb (~1Kg) of copper could be saved in a typical electromagnet.



In September Pye demonstrate colour television at the Berlin Industries fair. To quote the report titled "Eyes Front" in Wireless and Electrical Trader (27th Septempber 1952):-

"A coloured television programme is produced by Pye Ltd., of Cambridge, in the studio of the British Pavilion at the 1952 German Industries Fair, Berlin. By the time the Fair closes, on October 5, it is expected that thousands of Berliners will have witnessed the demonstration. From the photograph it appears that the programme material is as colourful as the system employed."


In an agreement between Murphy Radio Ltd and Societa Anonima Fimi televisions and electronic gear would be made under license in Italy.


In the second half of the year, Scophony-Baird Limited announce that the name of the company has been changed to Baird Television Limited.


Kirk o' Shotts

On the 15th January the B.B.C. began test transmissions from the new Kirk o' Shotts transmitter. The transmissions were normally made between 11 a.m. and mid-day plus 3 p.m. to 4 p.m and initially consisted of test patterns followed by still images. Apparenntly the trade were a bit miffed as they were not not informed that such transmissions had commenced, this on top of the fact that there had still been no word on the date of the start of regular transmissions.

Regular broadcasts commenced on March 14th, finally bringing television to Scotland. Many early broadcasts from Scotland had to be done as outside broadcasts from theatres and drill halls, including the former Black Cat cinema, Glasgow.

There had been one scheduled broadcast on the 15th of February in order to cover the state funeral of King George VI, although the main transmitter was not used.

Programmes were supplied via a 245-mile link from Manchester which at the time was the longest such link in Europe. The link required no fewer than 7 repeater stations, the un-manned stations containing duplicate equipment that would automatically switch in should a fault develop.

Convoy of Ekco lorries departing for Scotland [16K]
The route of the link between Manchester and Kirk 'O Shotts A convoy of lorries carrying televisions from E.K.Cole's factory
in Southend-on-Sea bound for Scotland, circa January.


Wenvoe opens on the 15th of August, increasing the percentage of the population able to receive television to 75%.

News From Abroad

March sees the Japanese broadcaster NHK make successful experimental colour television transmissions.

In April Italy's first two television transmitters open, one in Milan and one in Turin, with the opening timed so as to coincide with the Milan Fair. Demand for television sets was so high that 40,000 sets had to be imported from Britain.

In Moscow, the Russian press claimed that some 60,000 televisions were in use, the number having doubled over the previous 12 months. The television service itself ran for between three and four hours per day, six days per week and consisted mainly of concerts and plays televised from actual theatres.

In early June Canada begins test transmissions of fixed patterns from its first television station atop Mount Royal using the American channel 2 (54-60MHz).

In August France announces that when it introduces it's colour television it would use the CBS frame-sequential system. This, of course, doesn't happen.

Canada's first TV station opens in Montreal on the 6th September, with a second opening in Toronto two days later. The transmitter equipment was supplied by Marconi and the two tranmitters combined covered around 30% of the population, with tranmissions totally around 18 hours per week.

In America, on the 20th of September, the independent station KPTV begins 10 days of trial transmissions on UHF channel 27 from Portland, Oregon. it is the first UHF television station in the USA. regular programming follows on October 1st. With 108 stations already occupying the lower bands, the move to UHF allowed for an additional 70 channels that would be needed in order to achieve F.C.C. to achieve their longer term plan for over 2000 tranmitters.

Television services begin in Dominican Republic, Venezuela, West Germany and East Germany.

<1951 Gallery of Sets from 1952 1953>

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J.Evans 2005-2006
Last updated
15th October 2006