Saving the sounds of history
By Sean Street
From Vietnamese spoon music to the first ever recording of bird song, the BBC presides over an extensive sound archive. The fact it almost wound up on a scrap heap only to be saved by a "temp" is one of the great untold stories of broadcasting history - until now.
In 1937 Marie Slocombe was working as a summer relief secretary at the BBC.
One of her tasks was to sort out - and dispose of - a pile of dusty broadcast discs. She noticed that among them were recordings of GB Shaw, HG Wells, Winston Churchill, Herbert Asquith and GK Chesterton. So she hesitated. In that moment was the humble beginning of what became one of the most important collections of recordings in the world - the BBC Sound Archive. [Editor's note: Inline link added]
Titanic survivors Spoon music Edward's abdication Titanic survivor King David's harp Working with Lynton Fletcher, who was in charge of recorded programmes, Slocombe carried on collecting.