ORMEAU AVENUE IN BELFAST 16 MAY 2018
2BE, the Belfast station of the British Broadcasting Company, went on the air on 15 September, 1924 at a small studio in Linenhall Street in Belfast. It became part of the newly established British Broadcasting Corporation in 1927 and its services continued to grow.
By the mid-1930s the limitations of the Linenhall Street studios had become apparent, and preparations began to create a new home for local broadcasting in Northern Ireland. James Miller, a Scottish architect, was asked to undertake the building’s design.
By mid-1937 it had been confirmed that the BBC had acquired a city centre site on Ormeau Avenue and that it intended construct a “Broadcasting House in its main characteristics similar to the headquarters of the Corporation in London”.
Substantive building work on the BBC’s “new Northern Ireland headquarters” began in 1939 and continued despite the outbreak of World War II. It was completed in 1941 at a time when regional broadcasting was largely in abeyance.
Services resumed in 1945 and received fresh editorial impetus with the BBC’s new emphasis on regional voices and experiences. The Troubles had a profound effect across Northern Ireland and on the BBC itself. This period marked a transition in the BBC’s role in Northern Ireland, and its coverage of the conflict sometimes excited fierce audience and political reaction; Broadcasting House (like many other city centre buildings) suffered from bomb damage.
Broadcasting House itself grew with the addition of an administration block in 1975 and a new suite of studio and editing facilities in 1984.
The future of the Grade B2 listed building has been assured by the announcement of a £77 million investment in the site by the BBC to improve its infrastructure, efficiency and accessibility, the work which is expected to take place between 2018 and 2023.