• Start of regular schools television programmes.
  • TV License fee increased.
  • BBC coverage to incerase to 98% by the end of the year.
  • 7.8 million TV licenses by the end of the year

From the 16th Feburary, the programming break between 6pM and 7pM was abandoned with the exception of Sundays.

In the April budget it was announced that the television license would be increased from £3 to £4 as of August 1st. The increase was expected to provide an additional £8 million per year, however the BBC were to see none of this as it was an excise duty added to the license.

In November the B.B.C. began experimental television transmissions from Alexandra Palace using a 625-line signal transmitted on the U.H.F. Band V.

Television for Schools

Clarke & Smith schools television mounted on frame stand [6K] Cossor schools set [6K] Ferguson console schools TV [5K]
Clarke & Smith Cossor 905 Ferguson 4227ST

There had been a one-month experiment in broadcasting programmes for schools way back in 1952. Then on the 23rd November 1956 the BBC announced plans to start a school television service from the autumn of 1957, comprising two or three weekly programmes for secondary schools on a trial basis. On the 13th May 1957 Independent television began trial broadcasts of schools programmes, ahead of the planned BBC experiment. Associated Rediffusion donated 100 television sets to London schools, although the transmissions were also available in the Midlands. One programme a day was transmitted with 85 schools watching in. Several manufacturers produced televisions particularly for schools, with Cossor advertising such sets as early as February. The experiments were deemed to be a success and on the 22nd September Associated Rediffusion began a regular television service for secondary schools in ITV regions, broadcasting on weekdays for 30 minutes at 14:45. Again this was quickly followed by the B.B.C on the 24th September who tranmitted their programmes for between 14:00 and 14:30.

Direct Viewing
Bush model TV281
Clarke & Smith SB/DV2A
Cossor 904 and 905
Ekco ST304
Ferguson 4227ST
GEC BT3251S and BT9343S
HMV 1847 and 1848
Murphy V290CA and V300C
Philips 2160U
Wired Radio Service (Chessington) CA21.3
Rear Projection
Ferguson 4229ST
Wired Radio Service CA30.3

In order to help local education authorites choose a suitable receiver a test was arranged at the end of 1956 at a school in Hertfordshire. All television manufacturers were invited to submit models, the offer being taken up by fifteen manufacturers who provided a total of 24 receivers. In a ten page report covering these tests a total of 16 sets were approved (see list opposite).

Three types of receiver were tried, direct viewing, front projection and rear projection but no front projection set was selected. All direct view sets had 21-inch screens except for one (the Cossor 905 which was a 24-inch set) as this was deemed the minimum acceptable. Whilst two projection sets were included, the report pointed out that such sets tended to have dimmer pictures requiring the room lighting to be dimmed and also suffered apparent picture deterioration as viewing angles increased. However direct-view screens needed some care to avoid reflections on the screen and it is noticable that many of the sets listed included viewing hoods.

It seems however that other manufacture's models did end up in schools, amongst them sets from a company by the name of High Definition Television who supplied twenty 27-inch sets for use in London County Council schools and a further five 21-inch sets for use in Edinburgh.



At the start of the year, soley for the benefit of members of Parliament, the BBC transmited colour using the NTSC on 405-lines. The B.B.C. had already been making experimental broadcats after normal programming hours three days a week.

But in America all was not well for colour television, the main reason being economic due to the fact that in spite of being subsidised, colour sets were typically ~$500 as compared to $160 for an equivalent mono set. The second reason was that of poor techincal picture quality particularly in fringe areas.

Ferguson 308T


On the 17th April, Ferguson sent it's dealers news of a new Mullard E.H.T. rectifier valve, the TY86F. The valve was a specially designed service replacement for use in two Ferguson televisions, the models 306T and 308T which due to a design fault consumed their standard EY86 rectifiers. Judging by the serial numbers of the sets, there were some 120,000 sets affected and I can only guess that this is why a new valve was designed instead of modifying these sets, even though such modifications only involved the changing of two resistors !


Around March or April the Hartley Baird group, which included both the Ambassador and Baird brands, was acquired by Camp Bird Ltd.

At the start of April EMI (using HMV and Marconiphone trademarks) and Thorn (Ferguson brand) merge their design and marketting of all radio and TV products.

Following a period of rumours Thorn announce on the 8th July that they had acquired the Champion Electric Corporation.

In April, Ekco took over the marketting of domestic radio and televisions bearing the "Ferranti" trade mark.


On the 15th of April the transmitter at Blaen Plwy near Aberystwyth, West Wales, begins test transmissions on channel 3 with a full service starting two weeks later.

The 17th August sees the 17th BBC transmitter open at Rosemarkie near Inverness, Scotland, transmitting on channel 2. This was preceded by test tranmissions starting from July 31st and transmitted between 10am and 1pm on weekdays.

Test transmissions begin on the 1st March from the first Scottish ITA station at Black Hill, Lanarks., using a pilot transmitter on channel 10 with offset carriers. However it was not until the 31st of August that the ITA company Scottish Television begin regular services.

Test transmissions at the site of the ITA transmitter at St. Hilary, Glamorgan begins operation on channel 10 from September 2nd, with the hope of introducing a full service in time for Christmas.

By the end of the year, the Isle of Man finally gained a permanent television transmitter having previously used a "temporary" transmitter since 1953 !


This year saw the beginning start of two programmes or program events that have been with us ever since. April saw the first broadcast of The Sky At Night with Patrick Moore, whilst December Christmas saw the begining of what has become a yearly broadcast - The Queen's Christmas broadcast to the nation.

News From Abroad

On the 19th of January the second Australian commercial television station, GTV-9 officially opened in Melbourne. Before the year was out television household penetration has reached 26 per cent in Melbourne and 12 per cent in Sydney.

In Germany two low power transmitters (at Bitburg and Landstuhl, both operating on Band IV) transmit TV on American standards for the benefit of U.S. service men. They transmit films provided by the Armed Forces Television center at Limestone, Maine, for seven hours per day.

In America, the year starts with RCA introduced the 21EP4, a 21" tube with 110 degree deflection.The increased angle allowed the tube to be 5 inches shorter than the equivalent 90 degree type. Electrostatic focus was required in order to maintain overall focus.

Meanwhile, Japan begin their first experimental colour transmissions in Tokyo.

By August USSR had a total of 24 television stations with a plan for a futher 10 to be be in operation by the end of the year. As of April it was estimated that roughly 1½ million receivers were in operation.

By mid-1957 Canadian television was available to 80% of the country's 16 million population lived within the service area provided by it's 38 television stations. Over the preceeding four years the number of televisions in use had increased ten-fold to 2.3 million.

Television services start in Romania and Portugal.


Northern Radio Poster [19K]

<1956 Gallery of Sets from 1957 1958>

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J.Evans 2005-2007
Last updated
28th December 2007