Celebrating 50 Years: Moving To Warwick

In October 1988, Radio Warneford launched its service to Warwick Hospital via a landline link from its studios in “The Hut” at the Warneford Hospital. The station had raised £26,000 to fund both the landline and the wiring up of the wards at Warwick to enable the patients to tune in. The link was officially opened by Leamington and Warwick MP, Sir Dudley Smith. Members visited patients at Warwick Hospital to collect requests before travelling to Leamington to present the Request Show.

When the landline link opened, there were already advanced plans for Radio Warneford to open a studio at Warwick Hospital to broadcast in tandem with the studio in Leamington. There would be shared programmes and each site would have its own patient Request Shows. However, before a new studio could be built, the health authority published far-reaching plans for health services in South Warwickshire that included moving all acute and maternity services from the Warneford Hospital to Warwick and eventually closing the Warneford site completely.

Radio Warneford accelerated talks with management at Warwick with a view to finding accommodation for the station there and it was agreed that the station would part-fund the building of a brand new two-storey building connected to the main corridor at Warwick Hospital with the studios located on the first floor. Fundraising began in earnest with a target of £75,000 to cover the cost of the building and new studio equipment. The “cutting the sod” ceremony for the new building was performed by the station’s Chairman, Peter Watts, alongside BBC CWR presenter and former Radio Warneford member, Annie Othen.

Construction got underway and it was quite a few months before our engineering team were able to get into the finished building and begin the long process of turning an empty shell into a first class studio complex.

The studios were furnished with brand-new mixing desks and studio equipment but filing cabinets full of 7-inch singles, shelves of LPs and computer equipment had to be moved from “The Hut” in Leamington Spa before the Warneford Hospital closed for the final time.

Radio Warneford’s new home at Warwick Hospital finally began broadcasting in October 1993 but the official opening took place a year later as part of celebrations for the station’s 21st birthday. Midlands actor Dave Willetts, star of West End musicals Phantom Of The Opera and Sweeney Todd performed the opening ceremony by handing over a set of keys to the Chairman, Graeme Meanley. After the opening, Radio Warneford put on a 21-hour marathon broadcast to mark the station’s birthday.

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