Former BBC wartime studio
Former BBC wartime studio, Penrhyn Road, Colwyn Bay
This building, known as Penrhyn Buildings, was erected at the start of the 20th century for shop and office use. On the first floor of this unit, however, a restaurant was opened called the Lantern Café.
At the beginning of the Second World War the cafe was closed on the orders of the Government and the first floor was taken over, secretly, by the British Broadcasting Corporation. It was to be used as a clandestine communication post in the event of a German invasion of Great Britain. A soundproofed control room was created. The broadcasting equipment was linked to transmitters across Britain and maintained in good order throughout the conflict.
Among the men who worked here were two brothers who had both received the Military Cross for outstanding gallantry during their service in the First World War. One of them had a bar with his cross, denoting a second instance of gallantry. The brother without a bar was jokingly nicknamed “the coward”.
Fortunately there was never a need to broadcast from the BBC studio. All the equipment remained in place for a few years after the war, then the first floor reverted to its original use. The café closed in the 1980s. The building is now home to Alpha Business Centre.
In 2017 a granite “postcard” celebrating the secret studio was installed on Colwyn Bay prom.
Postcode: LL29 8LG View Location Map
With thanks to Graham Roberts, of Colwyn Bay Civic Society. His book ‘Colwyn Bay at War, from Old Photographs’, is published by Amberley Publishing.