6th March 1923

BBC makes its first broadcasts in Scotland

The BBC made its first broadcasts in Scotland on 6 March 1923. The station, known as 5SC, was set up in a small attic in Rex House at 202 Bath Street, Glasgow, around two miles by road from the Corporation’s present headquarters at the city’s Pacific Quay. There is now a plaque on the outside of the building noting its former use. The transmitter was sited at a nearby electricity power station and broadcast on the 415m wavelength.

Another station was later set up in Aberdeen (2BD), and the two were supplemented by smaller relay stations in Edinburgh (2EH) and Dundee (2DE).

BBC’s Glasgow launch

The station went live at 7pm, with the BBC’s first director general, Stonehaven-born Lord Reith, announcing “5SC, the Glasgow station of the BBC, is calling.” Like all other programmes on the schedule, this had to be done live, as it was not possible to pre-record and play out programmes to air.

The first night’s transmission had a particularly Scottish flavour, with local music dominating the schedule.

Station 5SC remained on air for around five years, to be replaced in the late 1920s with a regional service that could more effectively cover the country.

The BBC’s Scottish television service was launched in 1952, from a transmitter at Kirk O’Shotts, and went live on 15 February that year with coverage of the state funeral of King George VI.

The BBC’s Scottish team

By the time 5SC went live, the BBC had already been broadcasting to London for five months, already. However, the Scottish audience grew quickly and numbered in the tens of thousands by the end of its first calendar year on the air.

The station’s first controller was Herbert Carruthers, who was responsible not only for setting up the station in the weeks leading up to its launch, but securing any music that would be played on the air from a music shop. The station also had four programming staff.



Other events that occured in March

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.