Search Canmore

3 March 2010: Queen Margaret Drive

On 6 March 1923, Station 5SC began broadcasting from an attic in Rex House, 202 Bath Street, Glasgow as part of the British Broadcasting Company (which became ‘Corporation’ in 1926). This small space – which would often be used to house an orchestra, pipe band, choir, solo singers, actors and speech-makers – was BBC Scotland.

Lord Reith, the BBC's founder, chose Glasgow as the Scottish starting point due to the size of the potential audience, but by the end of 1924 'relay stations' had also opened in Belmont Street, Aberdeen (2BD), Lochee Road, Dundee (2DE) and George Street, Edinburgh (2EH). The output from stations 2BD and 2EH were clearly picked up in the United States during International Radio Week in November 1924.

In 1936, Glasgow's BBC Scotland base moved to Queen Margaret Drive, a site which includes two distinctly individual buildings by two of Glasgow's greatest architects. The earliest is North Park House, built in 1869 to the design of J.T. Rochead as a country mansion and private gallery for the brothers John and Matthew Bell, who owned the Glasgow Pottery at Port Dundas. In 1884 the house was acquired by Queen Margaret College, the first college for women in Scotland, and in 1895, the College began building Britain's first women's medical school on the site, designed by architects Honeyman and Keppie, and an associate, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The college closed in 1935 and principal architect James Miller began adapting the Glasgow site for BBC Scotland in 1936, allowing for the site’s buildings to be used in the production, administration and broadcasting of BBC Scotland's radio, television and – latterly – interactive programmes.

In 2007, after more than 70 years of continuous broadcasting, BBC Scotland left Queen Margaret Drive for a new broadcast centre at Pacific Quay, with the old site currently undergoing conversion to residential use. Queen Margaret Drive lies within the Glasgow West Conservation Area and the Mackintosh Building, Queen Margaret College and Miller’s 1930s extension are all Category B listed.