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- The BBC in Cornwall 1949 - Boult and Hibberd -

   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Travelling Days series:

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ON SATURDAY 14 May 1949 the BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by Paul Beard, presented a concert in Truro Cathedral.

Stuart Hibberd, the radio announcer, wrote in his diary that this concert was the climax of the orchestra’s visit to the West Country. ”The orchestra was placed in the transept, and in the half-light… ... the music seemed to take on a deeper beauty and added dignity. Boult.jpg - 37835 BytesThe Gabrielli Sonata for two ‘choirs of brass instruments and the Vaughan Williams Fantasia… ... were both utterly right for this setting. The Press reports, speaking of the Vaughan Williams work, afterwards said ‘The strings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult gave a deeply moving interpretation of this noble work and I am sure that those of us who were fortunate to be present will always look on it as an unforgettable musical experience.” Indeed it was!   Sir Adrian Boult and Stuart Hibberd signed the concert programme on the platform of Truro Station after the performance!

Photograph of Truro Cathedral in 1949 (top) - author's collection.
Sir Adrian Boult (above right) - photograph with acknowledgement to the BBC.
Signed programme of the 1949 concert (below right).
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STUART HIBBERD was born in 1893. He joined the BBC in 1924 as an assistant announcer at No 2 Savoy Hill next to the Savoy Hotel in London. In addition to announcing the various programmes he also read the news bulletins which in those days started with the words, “This is London calling, 2LO calling." He subsequently became the BBC’s Chief Announcer, a post he held for 25 years and his quietly confident voice became familiar and much respected.

    Hibberd was the "Voice of the BBC" leading Britain through the General Strike of 1926, and informing the world that "The King's life is moving peacefully to its close", in 1935.

    In 1950 Hibberd produced a book consisting of extracts from his diary under the title of “This – is London” and covering the years 1924 to 1949. From 1926, newsreaders and programme announcers were required to wear dinner-jackets when on duty in the evenings even though they were invisible to their audience. In his memoirs, Stuart Hibberd observed: 'Personally, I have always thought it only right and proper that announcers should wear evening dress on duty. AutographHibberd.jpg - 28092 BytesAfter all, announcing is a serious, if new, profession, and the wearing of evening dress is an act of courtesy to the artists, many of whom will almost certainly be similarly dressed if they are taking part in a programme from 8 p.m. onwards. There are, of course, certain disadvantages. It is not ideal kit in which to read the News ... and I remember that more than once the engineers said that my shirt-front creaked during the reading of the bulletin'

    Announcers and newsreaders were anonymous in the early days of the BBC- the names of outside-broadcast commentators were, however, made public. A BBC report states, “In 1940, John Snagge, as head of presentation, removed the anonymity (of the newsreaders/announcers) and the new formula was: 'Here is the news and this is Alvar Lidell (Stuart Hibberd etc.) reading it.’” After Churchill, Hibberd's became the best-known voice in wartime Britain. Other prominent newsreaders during WWII were Frank Philips, and Alvar Lidell. Although Lidell was called up in 1943 to serve in the RAF he was later invalided out and in 1944 rejoined the BBC.

    Stuart Hibberd retired in 1951 using his well known close-down, "Goodnight everybody... goodnight" at the end of his last broadcast. Lidell1.jpg - 19696 BytesHe died in 1983.

    Drawing of Stuart Hibberd by Ginsbury (top).
    Alvar Lidell as a recruit at Cardington near Bedford (right).
    Photograph with acknowledgement to the BBC.
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