The Beeb, The Strand, and Charles II

This day in London history: on the 14th of November 1922 the British Broadcasting Company started life at Marconi House, The Strand. and “listening-in” quickly became a popular pastime

According to one writer, the name of The Strand is of Saxon origin and is mentioned by name in the Saxon Chronicle; apparently it is recorded that this is where Earl Godwin and his son Harold drew up their land forces in the insurrection that they headed against Edward the Confessor in 1052.

The diarist John Evelyn stood in The Strand to watch Charles II’s triumphant procession after the Restoration, and wrote in his diary on the 29th of May, 1660. “This day his majestie, Charles II, came to London, after a sad and long exile and calamitous suffering both of the king and church, being seventeen years. This was also his birthday, and with a triumph above 20,000 horse and foot, brandishing their swords and shouting with inexpressible joy; the ways strew’d with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, fountains running with wine; the mayor, aldermen, and all the companies in their liveries, chains of gold, and banners; lords and nobles clad in cloth of silver, gold, and velvet; the windowes and balconies well set with ladies; trumpets, music, and myriads of people flocking even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven hours in passing the City, even from two till ten at night. I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and bless’d God.”

Back to the BBC: the UK government licensed the UK’s six major radio manufacturers to form the new outfit, which initially had a staff of four, and was financed by a Post Office licence fee of 10 shillings, payable by anyone owning a receiver, and supplemented by royalties on radio sales.

In 1926 the company was dissolved and the British Broadcasting Corporation formed with a royal charter.

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