Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Oldest television sought in Baird contest

Philips projection television c. 1960

Philips projection television c. 1960

The oldest working television in Scotland is being sought in a competition which has been launched by John Logie Baird’s grandson.

While Apollo Towers was once graced by the example to the right, all that remains of this particular beast is the screen. And we mean the screen – the rest was recycled as wood for other projects when the CRT (cathode ray tube) of the projector unit failed. Lord knows what a replacement would have cost, but nobody wanted to touch it given the power of the high tension circuits used to produce the required brightness of the projected image. It may have been black & white, but was decades ahead of what most folk take to be a new idea today.

I recently read that the same display was used within an ECKO radar system developed at the same time, and provided a rear projection image about three feet across, but I can’t find the detailed reference again.

The competition is intended to help dispel the myth that digital TV means everyone has to throw away their current television sets and buy new ones.

Incredible as it may be seem, the doornocking scum is using this ploy to frighten technically unaware individuals into buying television upgrades that they don’t need. It’s sad and shameful that there is always a bunch of crooks somewhere that will turn whatever they can to their own financial advantage. Hanging, as they say, really is too good for them, as they always target the vulnerable, and that has to include OAPs who can’t afford this, but depend on their televisions for much of their entertainment, especially if they live alone.

The digital switchover will be phased in across Scotland, due to begin with the Borders on November 6, 2008, and in the north and central areas in 2010.

Paul Hughes, national manager of Digital UK, said: “One of the biggest myths about the digital switchover is that people think they have to go out and buy a new large panel expensive television and they don’t. Any old television can be converted, even if it’s a television that works via the old style aerial socket and doesn’t have a scart plug in it. So the serious message from us is think before you go out and buy something you don’t need – the digital switchover doesn’t need to be expensive.”

Mr Hughes said there are three main ways for people to switch their old televisions to digital: via a set top box, a satellite subscription, or by cable.

Television Search Contest

Anyone who would like to enter their television in the search should email or phone 0845 270 1709.

Ian Logie Baird, also hopes the contest will unearth television sets that may be of historical interest. Mr Baird, who is curator of television at the National Media Museum in Bradford, encouraged people to search their lofts.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, he said: “It might be something from before WWII or the late 60s or 70s. We will see what kind of entries we get. Ideally it would be something as old as 1936 when the first electronic TVs came onto the market.”

The winner will have their old television set adapted to to digital operation.

I don’t know what’s available off the shelf by way of converters, although the fact that the original signal is already digital will ease the task, and it will be interesting to see how easy it is to assemble a box to convert the signal to the old 405-line standard (if they’re lucky), or to something like a Baird 30-line Televisor mechanical television (if they’re not).

I did have a quick look online, but the search results are swamped by numerous examples of the more usual 405/625 converter projects, but someone must have done it already, and for anyone in the design side of that business, I suspect the change involved in making a digital to 625-line converter into a 405-line converter would be relatively simple.s


Here a link to a follow-up post about the eventual winner of the above contest:

Oldest UK television found – a 1936 Marconiphone

BBC NEWS | Technology | Oldest UK television discovered


October 4, 2008 - Posted by | Civilian | , ,


  1. i believe I have an article that belong to John Logie Baird, I have been trying for quite some time to get in touch with his Granson Ian to see if he is interested


    Comment by Angela Barfield | August 27, 2009

  2. where di I go from here AMB


    Comment by Angela Barfield | August 27, 2009

  3. Hi Angela,

    Iain Baird, as you note, John Logie Baird’s grandson, is television curator at the National Media Museum in Bradford and can be contacted through the following page there: Talk to us – National Media Museum

    You’ll just have to make first contact using the general form, as they don’t appear to have individual email addresses.

    Good luck, and please let us know if they were helpful.


    Comment by Apollo | August 27, 2009

  4. The oldest television in Scotland, and perhaps in the world in private hands, was eventually located in East Lothian.


    Comment by Colin | March 22, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: