Ian Parr, the Secretary and Trustee of the Charles Parker Archive, visited the Birmingham School of Media recently to deliver a collection of equipment formally used by radio producer Brian Vaughton.

 “On looking back I find that the majority of my documentaries have been aimed at capturing the past, before it is too late.” – Brian Vaughton

Brian worked in both radio and television from the late 1950s – on into the twenty-first century. In 1961 and 1962, Brian compiled and wrote two radio programmes which were produced by Charles Parker in the BBC Birmingham Radio Studios. These programmes, “The Jewellery” and “Cry from the Cut”, became known as  “The Birmingham Ballads” and have become important audio documents, preserving the legacy of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and the commercial boat traffic which used to fill the city’s once busy canals.

It is interesting to note that Brian did not work under the security of full time BBC employment – instead preferring the freedom afforded by being an independent producer.

L2“The beauty of being a freelance is that you can choose the subject of your article, radio programme or documentary film that you want to put up for consideration by the powers-that-be. And if they reject your suggestions, it is not the end of the world!” – Brian Vaughton

Brian kindly gave permission for his collection of radio equipment to be permanently displayed in the Radio Suite of the new Birmingham City University Parkside Building. This includes an L2 EMI “midget tape recorder”, a Brennell editing deck and an STC4032 microphone. These are all in pristine condition – which Brian says is because he paid for the equipment himself – and therefore took good care of it. While BBC equipment at the time was often subjected to more “knocks”.

The School of Media is delighted to announce the naming of a new yearly award “The Brian Vaughton Award for Excellence in Radio” which is to be given to the radio student achieving the highest overall mark on the conclusion of their BA in Media and Communication / Radio studies.

For more information about Brian’s achievements, please visit the Charles Parker Archive Trust where there is an excellent series of interviews and notes relating to his work and the “Birmingham Ballads”.

The Charles Parker Archive can be found in the Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, and more details can be found on the Birmingham City Council’s website.

The Birmingham  School of Media would especially like to thank Brian for his generosity in allowing the School to display his equipment and thanks also to Ian Parr (who collected the quotes used above) and the Charles Parker Archive for their ongoing involvement in the project to recognise Brian’s outstanding achievements. We hope to post an in depth interview with Brian about his life and work in the near future.

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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