Television HouseEdit profile
Television House, on Kingsway in London was, from 1955, the London headquarters of Associated-Rediffusion, Independent Television News (ITN), TV Times magazine, the Independent Television Companies Association and, at first, Associated TeleVision. It was later the headquarters of 'Rediffusion, London' and its successor, Thames Television.
The Kingsway area had been redeveloped at the start of the 20th century from slums and tenement housing into a broad avenue with grand office buildings and expensive town houses.
After the formation of the Air Ministry in 1918, headquarters were found on Kingsway and one of two identical buildings opposite Bush House became Adastral House. This was the home of the Air Ministry through World War II and became famous after the war as the central London temperatures and wind speeds were measured from its roof by the Met Office and announced as such during the BBC weather forecasts.
In 1954, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) awarded the first two contracts for the new ITV commercial television system. Because the BBC had previously held a monopoly on broadcasting, there were no non-BBC television studio facilities in the UK. Associated-Rediffusion, as one of the two contractors, needed to build from scratch a whole new facility. The company had hired Thomas Brownrigg as General Manager, partially due to his extensive knowledge of planning and project management, which would be needed in simultaneously building a new company and its studios and headquarters.
British Electric Traction, majority owner of Associated-Rediffusion, bought the freehold on Adastral House from the government. Brownrigg engaged Bovis Limited (later Bovis Construction) to gut the building internally and build a new suite of offices, technical facilities and studios to be called Television House. This was begun in early 1955 and, with a planned start date for ITV of 22 September 1955, was worked on at great speed, virtually 24 hours a day.
Four small studios (numbered 7, 8, 9 and 10) were built inside the building, mainly for current affairs and continuity use (the main large studios, now The Fountain Studios, were constructed on the site of the former 20th Century Fox studios in Wembley in Middlesex). Additionally, office space and dining facilities for over 1,000 people was created. A suite of management offices, complete with oak-panelled boardroom, was built.
The original headquarters and studio facilities of ITN were located on the seventh and eighth floors of the building.
TV Times, part-owned by Associated-Rediffusion, occupied offices in the building from 1957 until April 1958.
A computer room, housing an early mainframe computer that controlled advertising bookings, was added on the second floor in 1966.
Associated TeleVision (ATV) inhabited Television House for the first few years of broadcasting, mainly just for office accommodation rather than studio facilities. For a period early in ITV's history, Associated-Rediffusion provided this space for free as part of the effort to keep ITV afloat during the financial crisis of 1955-1957.
St Catherine's House
In the 1967 ITV contract round, the ITA awarded the London weekday contract to a joint company made up of ABC Weekend TV and Rediffusion Television, Thames Television. This new company had a surplus number of studios in London. The Wembley studios were therefore sold to the new London Weekend Television. Thames, controlled by the former ABC, decided that a brand new studio complex, equipped from the start for colour broadcasting and located out of the centre of London would be more appropriate.
Thames used Television House as its headquarters whilst the building of the new Thames Television House in Euston took place.
When Television House was vacated in the early 1970s, it was again occupied by the government, this time the General Register Office, where it housed the birth certificates of the English and Welsh populations. The building was renamed to St Catherine's House.
In the 1990s, the building was vacated by the General Register Office, which moved to Southport in Merseyside, and, after extensive refurbishment, it became the UK headquarters of ExxonMobil.
After ExxonMobil left and further redevelopment work took place in 2007, the building is now called "The Centrium" and houses a number of corporations, including Herman Miller, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, SVG Capital, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Ashmore Group, Tishman Speyer, Interconnector UK, and Babson Capital.
- Studio 7: 702 sq ft (65.2 m2). 33' by 24' = 10 m x 7.3 m
- Studio 8: 950 sq ft (88 m2). 38' by 25' = 11.6 m x 7.6 m
- Studio 9: 2,416 sq ft (224.5 m2). 64' by 40' = 19.5 m x 12.2 m
- Studio 10: 312 sq ft (29.0 m2). 26' by 12' = 8 m x 3.7 m
- Master Control: 900 sq ft (84 m2).
- Maintenance Workshop: 1,150 sq ft (107 m2).
- VTR (with 2x Ampex video recorders): 320 sq ft (30 m2).
- Telecine (with 2x Cintel, 1x RCA Vidicon and 2x EMI Flying Spot telecine machines): 1,150 sq ft (107 m2).
- Rehearsal rooms x6: 7,500 sq ft (700 m2).
- Projector theatres x 6
- Cutting rooms x15
- Dubbing theatre