Scottish fact of the day: first TV signal broadcast

The transmission took place between London, and the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. Picture: Adrian Welch/glasgowarchitecture.co.uk
The transmission took place between London, and the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. Picture: Adrian Welch/glasgowarchitecture.co.uk
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OPENED in 1883 and designed by the Edinburgh-born architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow - known to locals by its original name the Central Hotel - has a rich and fascinating history.

The hotel of choice for many prominent public figures throughout its 130-year history, guests who have passed through its doors include 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy, former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

John Logie Baird adjusting a transmitter. Picture: Getty

John Logie Baird adjusting a transmitter. Picture: Getty

But the hotel, which directly adjoins the Glasgow Cenral railway station concourse, is perhaps best known for the events of May 27th, 1927, when inventor John Logie Baird transmitted the first long-distance television pictures between London and a fourth floor bedroom in the Grand Central Hotel. The pictures were sent over 438 miles of telephone lines between the English capital and Scotland’s largest city.

The transmission was a response to a 225-mile telecast that took place a month earlier between two AT&T Bell Labs stations in New York and Washington DC.

The successful transmission led to Baird setting up the Baird Television Development Company Ltd., which a year later made the first transatlantic television transmission, between London and Hartsdale in New York.

He followed this up with the first TV programme for the BBC, and in 1929 set up France’s first TV company with Bernard Natan, Télévision-Baird-Natan.

Baird studied at the city’s Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College - now the University of Strathclyde - and the University of Glasgow.

The hotel was also one of the venues where country and western singer, and cowboy actor Roy Rogers rode his horse Trigger down the main staircase, during a tour of Scotland. He repeated the feat at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh.