The BBC at Daventry Museum

Yesterday I visited my nearest museum in Daventry. They do a brilliant job, despite only being able to open from 10-4 on the first Saturday of every month.

Daventry Museum. New Street, Daventry

For March, April and May this year they have a special exhibition about the BBC at Daventry. The first Daventry transmitter, 5XX began transmitting in 1925, only three years after the BBC had been established. The intention was that Daventry would transmit using long wave, and as it is in roughly the centre of the country it was hoped that around 85% of the population would be able to tune in. In 1932, 80 years ago this year, the Empire Service was inaugurated from Daventry with a set of short wave transmitters. The Empire Service would become the World Service that we know today.

The display at the museum combines archive photographs and articles with some fantastic  objects. Sadly little remains of the original 5XX transmitter, but the local volunteers have managed to preserve a number of other artefacts from the BBC station.

These front panels are from transmitters that were installed at Daventry in 1966. In the late 1980s they were removed and sent to the BBC shortwave station at Skelton in Cumbria. These front panels have recently been repatriated to Daventry in an eleventh hour rescue from the scrap man.


This fantastic object is a truck that converts the output of a shortwave transmitter into a form suitable for sending to the aerial. This truck is set up for the 75m band, another truck would be used for a different band.

One especially nice thing about visiting Daventry Museum is that the curator is always there for a chat when the museum is open. Luisa Pereira is the voluntary Museum Curator, and this particular exhibition was curated by Rod Viveash. Both were on hand to add their knowledge and enthusiasm to items on display.

There are two more opportunities to see the BBC at Daventry exhibition, on Saturday the 7th of April and Saturday the 5th of May.

Join the Conversation


  1. Are you sure that concrete base pieces are those. Of. 5Xx ?

    I was always tol that were to support A andB transmitters masts and theT3 building which housed the 5XX transmitter fed the adjacentA andB mats which were single lattice structure which meant each mast had but a singls concrete point on which was mounted a large bal bearing not a square base

  2. Hi Tony,

    I’m afraid I haven’t researched it as extensively as I would like – the information above came partly from a guided tour of the site from a former BBC employee, but I haven’t seen any site plans to back it up. I’m very happy to be corrected if I’ve got my facts wrong. I’ll see what I can find out…


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