Baird relatives return for TV switchover

John Logie Baird
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Baird digital tv switchover

TWO descendants of Helensburgh-born TV inventor John Logie Baird returned to the burgh on Wednesday April 27 2011 to publicise the digital TV switchover.

The inventor’s daughter, Uddingston-based Mrs Diana Richardson, and grandson Iain Logie Baird from Bradford were joined at the John Logie Baird pub in James Street by another relative, Diana’s cousin Laura Baird Conley — whose home is in the town’s Baird Avenue.

Iain, whose father is Helensburgh Heritage Trust president Professor Malcolm Baird, said: “Diana and I are delighted to have been asked back to Helensburgh to celebrate the history of analogue TV, and the arrival of switchover.”


They were met by a battery of press photographers and an STV News camera crew for the event, organised by Digital UK to publicise the Central Belt switchover starting on May 11.

Baird_Switchover-4-27.04.11-wThey posed with a rare 1930 televisor owned by the Heritage Trust and normally kept in the town library in West King Street beside a working replica televisor which the Trust acquired and built from an original Daily Express kit. It was too fragile to be moved.  

It is 85 years since Baird gave the world’s first public demonstration of a  mechanical television. Analogue TV started in Scotland 59 years ago with the BBC's public television service, followed by Scottish Television's first broadcast in 1957.

The last analogue signals will be turned off at the Black Hill transmitter group on June 22, marking the completion of digital switchover in Scotland.

For the Rosneath transmitter stage one, switching off BBC Two analogue, will happen on May 11, with stage two, the switching off of all analogue channels, on May 25. 

At stage one, the first group of Freeview digital channels will become available from relay transmitters for the first time, and at stage two, the remaining analogue channels will be replaced with additional digital TV, radio and text services. 

Baird's first TV was made from a washstand and tea chest housing a projection lamp and scanning discs cut from cycle lenses. Held together with scrap wood, darning needles, string and sealing wax, it was a far cry from the digital flat screens available today.

Paul Hughes, Digital UK's national manager in Scotland said: "In just two months, switchover will be complete and Scotland will have a broadcast system fit for the 21st century.

“Everyone will have a choice of digital options, and Freeview coverage will be extended to 99% of Scottish homes."

Large warning messages will be broadcast on analogue channels, reminding viewers to get ready for switchover.

The Switchover Help Scheme is also urging any eligible older and disabled viewers yet to respond to let them know whether they want practical support to convert one TV set to digital, including a choice of equipment, installation and aftercare.

Iain Logie Baird, who is curator of television at the National Media Museum in Bradford, added: “Whichever way you choose to receive digital, it means more channels and free high-definition TV for everyone."


Photos copyright Donald Fullarton.