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Preserving the past at Perivale

Chris Kane Chris Kane | 10:57 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Last month marked the culmination of the Perivale project as the final stock of BBC archive materials moved from Windmill Road to Information and Archives’ new home.

The BBC’s radio and television archive collections were based at Windmill Road in Brentford for 42 years, but the new modern facility at Perivale will better protect the precious materials, ensuring future generations can access films and recordings from the last 70+ years.

The Perivale site has been installed with six modern film vaults spread over two levels providing nearly 85,000 shelves – if they were placed end to end they would stretch for 61 miles. The total area of shelving is equal in size to almost five football pitches!

The stock moving programme took 200 days and in this time 3.8 million items were moved to Perivale, along with 80 staff that have transferred to the new site.

The archive material exists on a wide variety formats including film, dating back to 1936, videotape, first introduced into the BBC in the late sixties and audio tapes and discs.

Head of Archive Operations, Peter Skinner, sent a note to all of those who have contributed to bringing the project to its successful completion, and expressed his thanks to colleagues in Workplace, “to whom we owe so much.” Peter explained that the difficult transfer period went to timetable, and without a single hitch relating to the movement of broadcast critical material.

My thanks go to those in Workplace who have worked on the project, in particular, James O'Brien for effectively steering the ship.

The Windmill Road site is now being preparing for its return to the landlord in April.




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