Wales TV will not disappoint viewers 

2 December 2020 tbs.pm/71506

Statement by
DR. B. HAYDEN WILLIAMS
Chairman, Wales (West and North) Television Ltd.

 

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Port Talbot Guardian masthead

From the Post Talbot Guardian for 14 September 1962

TO-DAY (September 14), Wales (West and North) Television, or Teledu Cymru as it is known in Wales, opens its new studios in Cardiff and will be able to transmit its programmes over a large part of Wales by means of three transmitters – one located on the Presley Hills, Pembrokeshire, the other on Brynychain Mountain, Caernarvonshire, and the third on Moel-y-Parciau, Flintshire.

The first will transmit on Channel 8, the second on Channel 10 and the third on Channel 11 (The Flintshire transmitter will not be operative to-day, but will be completed before the end of the year).

 

Three men point a film camera at a group of British soldiers

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS – WWN’s film unit in West Germany

 

FIRST TIME

This is the first time that main television transmitters have been erected on Welsh territory for the express purpose of serving Wales and Wales alone. Hitherto, all main transmitters located in Wales have served parts of England as well as parts of Wales, with the consequence that it has not been possible hitherto to transmit either Welsh language programmes or English language programmes devoted entirely to the needs of Wales during good evening hours.

The erection of the three new transmitters mentioned will, however, rectify this situation so that Welsh programmes (in both languages) will, as from to-day, be seen and heard during the good evening viewing hours of 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

This new Welsh television linkage owes its existence to two years of work by a national committee set up for the purpose and to the goodwill and understanding of the Postmaster General and of the Independent Television Authority.

It is the intention of Wales (West and North) Television to begin its service by devoting the whole hour between 6 and 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday to programmes either in Welsh or English, dealing with Wales. These programmes will be varied in character and will contain items of interest for all ages, and for all people resident in Wales irrespective of whether they understand or speak Welsh.

In addition, news of Wales in both languages will be transmitted during this hour.

 

A group in traditional Welsh dress stand on a stage

MYFYR A MAWL (Mediation and Prayer), a 30-minute religious programme in Welsh shown on Teledu Cymru on Sundays at 5pm

 

YOUNG AND OLD

On Sunday it is hoped from 5 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. to provide a series of programmes, with a musical background, suitable for young and old, and aimed to emphasise some of the simpler yet greater Christian truths.

A drawing of a busy-looking anthropomorphic rabbit

HENO I’R PLANT (This Evening for Children) – stories and cartoons block on WWN

Later in the year Wales (West and North) Television will extend the hours of transmitting its own originated programmes into the later evening. Naturally, for the remainder of the time during which normal television takes place the network programmes will be shown.

To discharge these responsibilities Wales (West and North) Television was awarded the contract by the Independent Television Authority.

All the directors of the company are men and women who are household names in Wales and who have devoted all their lives to serving Wales in the industrial, educational, cultural and religious fields. They represent nearly all facets of the life of Wales.

The company has erected a modern Television Centre in Cardiff in order to be able to maintain the kind of service outlined about [sic]. In addition, it has established a film unit which will travel the country in search of suitable material. It has appointed staff a band of young men of experience and enthusiasm, devoted to the needs of Wales.

 

Two people sit on folding chairs facing a small bank of monitors

The Production Control Room in WWN’s studios

 

NO COST

It is emphasised that Wales (West and North (Television Company [sic] is undertaking the responsibility for bringing this service to Wales at no cost to the viewer. It will, as a commercial television company, have to rely on its advertisements for its income.

This means that to ensure the success of this new venture all persons who are resident within the areas already outlined should see to it that their sets are so adjusted as to be able to receive the programmes provided by Wales television.

This can be done quite easily and at little cost.

The company came into this field of activity largely as a result of the demand from Wales for its own programmes during the evening hours.

Having undertaken to provide this need from their own financial resources all would ask and urge the people of our area to do is to see that your set is adjusted to receive our programmes.

Your local dealers will advise you regarding such a matter.

If you play your part you can rest assured that Wales Television will not disappoint you.

 

 


 

One of the most modern T.V. Studios

 

Picture of an office block

 

The television centre of Wales (West & North) Television, Ltd., in Western Avenue, Cardiff, is one of the most modern in Europe.

Building dates back to the appointment of the architects, Messrs. T. Alwyn Lloyd and Gordon, in July last year. Plans were completed after a study of studios elsewhere.

The design team of architects, consultants and surveyors prepared estimates by October and tenders were invited. The contractors, Messers Hinkins and Frewin, were appointed on November 13 and began work the following day.

It was appreciated that time and finance would make it possible only to construct a proportion of what would be eventually desirable.

A policy was adopted of attempting to anticipate ultimate needs and building the first phase into a developing pattern.

As television techniques are changing rapidly the buildings were designed to provide maximum flexibility.

In the first phase of the construction provision was made for a main studio, a presentation studio, and a small announcers’ studio.

The technical areas are located centrally to serve the second and third phase main studios and any future third large studio. They are well back from the site and inaccessible to casual visitors.

The sections of the building frequented by the public, artistes and visitors are nearest to Western Avenue. There is a car park for visitors at the front of the site and one for staff at the rear.

Considerable areas of the building are air-conditioned. –– Port Talbot Guardian reporter

 


 

❛❛Russ J Graham writes: A useful glimpse into what Teledu Cymru saw themselves as being for.

Usually, we see them in the past tense, a symbol of financial failure, government interference and political self-righteousness. But here they are, on Day One of their shiny new service and looking forward with optimism rather than back with pessimism.

If success, with viewers, advertisers and accountants, had come, Dr Williams seems to see Teledu Cymru as being fairly divorced from ITV and much more like what S4C would be 20 years later: a Welsh-language broadcaster for Wales that carried another network’s programmes shoved off into the late night and early afternoon.

 

 

But his text carries a warning of the company’s downfall. His plea at the end for viewers to adjust their sets (by which he means get new aerials and, hopefully, take the old Winter Hill ones down) shows that he knows the power of Granada and ABC, already broadcasting in most of his company’s area for over 5 years, to syphon off both his viewers and his advertisers.

He resorts to something between a nationalist call to arms and outright begging by finishing off with reminding the new viewers that other people have sunk a lot of money into this venture and will lose their shirts if the people of north Wales don’t immediately tune away from Chelsea at Nine and Thank Your Lucky Stars in favour of poets extolling the virtues of mountain lakes in Wales.

His investors lost their shirts.

 

❛❛Kif Bowden-Smith adds: The winter of 1962-3 was a severe one, which delayed the opening of Moel-y-Parc until the end of January. This four and a half month period between WWN opening and them getting into the richest and most populated part of their area – Wrexham, Mold, Shotton, Denbigh – cut their income so dramatically that the company was holed under the water from the start. It seems they asked to postpone opening until Moel-y-Parc was ready, but either (or both) the Post Office and the ITA were unwilling to allow it. This meant a slow, incremental launch robbed of the big publicity hit of a single opening day. This turned out to be critical for the company’s future.

You Say

10 responses to this article

Ben Grabham 2 December 2020 at 12:44 pm

That’s fascinating…you can tell it was always going to be an uphill struggle from this. Daft question – they built their studios in Cardiff (presumably because that’s where the talent was, so to speak) – but what happened to it when TWW took over – who already had their own studios?

Jamie Medhurst 2 December 2020 at 2:10 pm

Teledu Cymru had quite a job on their hands in trying to wrestle viewers from Granada and TWW. Relations between directors and staff were often fraught and although the directors included some of the ‘great and good’ in Welsh life, the fact that these people were so prominent in many other areas of Welsh life (serial committee men and women?) meant that they couldn’t devote all their energies on running a commercial television company. And then there was the fact that there was a feeling amongst many in the higher cultural echelons of Welsh-speaking society that the whole notion of commercial/advertising-funded television was anathema and was sacrificing Welsh language and culture on the altar of Mammon….

David Lewis 2 December 2020 at 2:10 pm

TWW decided to sell off Western Avenue and extend Pontcanna studios.

ramones1986 2 December 2020 at 2:43 pm

If only the GPO were less pungent in their conditions behind the franchise…

Kif Bowden-Smith 2 December 2020 at 4:46 pm

The TWW studios were initially not comprehensive enough to run two services and extra facilities there took over a year to build. The WWN studios continued in use for some months after TWW had bought WWN out. Teledu Cymru is a discrete service continued under TWW as a separate unit and the brand name survived for some years more … until Teledu Harlech appeared in 1968 – The HTV branding started in 1970.
Both services started to come from the TWW studios after Feb 1965.

See our feature “TWW’s unique top floor”

Eddie Hutchinson 2 December 2020 at 10:08 pm

I reckon WWN were also holed not only by the strict measures of showing Welsh language programmes in peak time viewing, but also by Granada deciding to stop making Welsh language programmes as soon as WWN came on air, removing a valuable source of helpful outside programming. There was also, unfortunately, a layer of aspirational opulence – I remember reading an article by either Iris Jones or Christine Godwin (of the fabled ‘I’ll learn Welsh to speak in your language’ programme “Croeso Christine”) that the ashtrays at WWN’s complex cost £25, a huge amount in those times. A shame the venture didn’t work but, through no fault of theirs, WWN were in a straitjacket from day one.

Eddie Hutchinson 2 December 2020 at 10:25 pm

I’m pretty sure announcer / presenter Barry Haines mentioned above ended up at London Weekend Television in the early 70’s – announcers in front of some varnished planks or Formica with a white LWT logo behind their left shoulder – reverting to the Welsh version of his first name and calling himself Barri Haynes. It’s his voice over the clock on the Transdiffusion London Weekend startup.

Richard Jones 4 January 2021 at 3:56 am

Did the picture of the building come from an official source? The building I know was made of black glass and metal. Only wondering!

Russ J Graham 4 January 2021 at 3:11 pm

@Dici: It’s the picture the Port Talbot Guardian used in the original article, but whether it’s the correct picture or not is another matter!

Richard Wyn Jones 9 March 2021 at 5:34 pm

To add to this, I am 100% sure that this is not the WWN Teledu Cymru building,as that building was indeed made of black glass and metal. I used to pass it every day on the way to BBC Llandaf. It’s a huge regret of mine that I didn’t take pictures of the building when I had a chance to do so. I have failed to find a pic on the internet but I rthink that I do have somewhere a short piece of film from the day Teledu Cymru ceased its locally originated productions. I must search!

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