Malabar Road
Leicester LE1 2PD  Tel: 0533  21657

Remembering  Rediffusion Leicester By:
Gerald Clode
Wired Vision
Cable Story
Leicester Rediffusion was part of Rediffusion ( East Midlands ) Ltd with it's headquarters in Castle Boulevard, Nottingham.
Leicester was wired for sound and television in 1961 and operated from a small premisies in Clinton Street, moving to the larger site in Dysart Street ( later re-named Malabar Road ) in early 1964. Many parts of the city at that time suffered very poor VHF television reception. Rediffusion provided the ( "piped" ) network service and also rented out the loudspeakers and  television sets of their own manufacture, bearing in mind that a TV receiver was an expensive luxury at that time.
The service originally offered: BBC Light Programme, Third Programme, Home Service ( later to become Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 4 ) plus BBC and ITV television.  
By the mid 1960's the service also included the fledgling BBC2 channel and the first licensed local radio station, BBC Radio Leicester.
The advantage to the subscriber was that radio was "on tap" with a loudspeaker situated in the home and a channel selector switch conveniently located for both radio and TV viewing.
Rediffusion manufactured their own equipment, loudspeakers and television sets in their UK factories in Rochdale, Bishop Auckland, Chessington and elsewhere.
By 1970 the subscriber base had swelled to some 11,000 and most of the city of Leicester council estates were retro wired for reception. All new property developments in that era came with the system pre-installed.
1968 saw the start of color television transmissions on BBC 2 and by 1970 all three channels were broadcasting in color. This was a boom time for the company and Leicester  Rediffusion were installing up to 90 new MK1 ( CH2210 ) color sets a week.
As the subscriber base grew so did the need for support services for the wired vision network and TV and equipment service. Close on 100 people were employed a the Leicester branch at this time.
The wired vision system was further developed through the 1970's but by the early 1980's it was clear that with the fast advances in technology and the prospect of satellite television cheaply offering a multitude of channels, it was clear that the  Rediffusion HF Wired System lacked the prospect of competing in the changing market.
The corporate owners ( BET ) sold the Rediffusion television rental assets to Granada Television in  the mid 1980's but the wired vision system fell into new ownership. Because of the commitment to Leicester City Council to maintain an ongoing community service the wired system was maintained and received some minor upgrades to carry additional channels such as Sky Television through to the mid 1990's when Leicester Cable began the installation of a new modern system city wide. The old wired vision system became redundant soon after.  There are few traces of the old Rediffusion system left in Leicester today but some of the network is still visible on the council homes in the city and many still have their old Selector Switch on the wall as a reminder of the days when Rediffusion really was a household name.

Contact: Gerald Clode gerald@clode.com
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