ABC TV at GH in the Fifties

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The initial training of staff in television began in 1955 at the Royal Melbourne Technical College. Peter MacGregor wrote of his experiences in the ABC Journal, Radio Active under the title "Television - Here We Come"

Later in 1955, training commenced in Sydney at the St. Peter's Church Hall, situated opposite the old ABC Radio Studios in Forbes Street, Darlinghurst. The first Introductory Course was held from November 21 to December 2, 1955. Again Radio Active covered the event as Ten Days TV. This was followed by Sydney's First ABC TV Show on Wednesday December 23.

A Training course for Script Assistants (Producer's Secretaries) was held in Sydney. A photo of four of the attendies appeared in the News for Women section of the press.

Doug Grant also covered those early days of Training in his book "Alright Leaving Here"

Further training followed in early 1956 with TV Demonstrations culminating in a Presentation to The Post Master General, the ABC Chairman and members of the Commission on February 24. A group photo of ABC staff and talent (hover over faces to reveal names) was taken on 24th February 1956 during this training at St Peter's Church Hall.

A Childrens' Session training programme was also held in St Peter's Church Hall in the early part of 1956. Pat Pearson together with Athol Fleming, John Ewart, Gina Curtis and Barbara Frawley were all part of the radio Childrens' Session in the mid 1950's and were involved with the transition from radio to TV. A puppet called "The Muddleheaded Wombat" was used in the ABC Childrens' Theatre, part of the set can be seen in the background. The presenter, Pat Pearson, is holding the Wombat puppet. Pat was also involved with the old Phillip Street Theatre and was a very talented young actress. Unfortunately the transition was not smooth and the TV Childrens programs had a very brief appearance on the few screens in 1956-7.

Television instructors from overseas (UK, USA and Canada) were employed to train ABC staff. Radio Active further reported on TV Training in its July 1956 issue.

Another photo from a floorshow at St Peter's Hall. Eddy Berlage on Camera. Staff member Margaret Delves playing the harpsicord in St Peter's Hall. Margaret became the youngest TV producer at the start of ABN Channel 2. Her story is told under Contributions.

A TV Training Workshop (hover over faces to reveal names) was also held in Melbourne before the Olympic Games involving staff from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Ideas were shared in the lead-up to the games in several joint training sessions. A training OB at the Melbourne show covered a Fashion Parade in the Wool Pavillion. Scotts Hotel was used as a training venue for a Variety Show.


This section of the website deals with the training issues for 'technician' staff at Gore Hill. The first advertisment to start a technical training scheme appeared mid 1957 requesting applications for the positions of Technical Instructors and Trainees.

The Trainees

The first ABC intake of Technicians-in-Training (known as the TITs) at ABN Channel 2, Gore Hill occurred in the beginning of 1958. Regular yearly recruitment then followed. The T.I.T. course was four years in duration. At the conclusion of the course the Trainees were promoted into Technician positions.

The intake of 1958 was divided into two small groups. As one group attended classes at North Sydney Technical College the other group worked on the station. However, this was the only year such an arrangement was implemented - from 1959 the whole group either went to College or worked on the station.

Trainees were given an Introduction to ABC TV Engineering Services a document prepared by John Watson, their Training Supervisor.

The syllabus at the Technical College during the early years included Circuit Theory, Electronics, Laboratory and Workshop Practice.

In those days 'technicians' performed a broad range of work from installation, maintenance to operational functions such as vision mixing and camera. Therefore the areas that Trainees were allocated to covered a variety of functions that included Cable Duties in Studio 21, assisting with the setting up of Outside Broadcasts, general installation work, Telerecord Film Processing and Engineering Workshop.

North Sydney Tech College teachers during 1958 and 1959 included Stan Graves, Bob Green, Milton Moore.

A photograph of some of the graduated 1958 trainees was taken outside the ABN2 Transmitter building with their Training Supervisor, John Watson.

(Click image to enlarge)

A formal Graduation Night for the 1958 and 1959 intakes of Technician-in-Training was held in Radio Studio 227 at Kings Cross, where a combined group photo was taken..

Graduation Ticket

Their Certificates were presented by Vern Kenna the Controller of Technical Services and the Presentation Evening was coordinated by John Watson, the Supervising Technician responsible for the trainees selection and training. Also in attendance were representatives of the North Sydney Technical College, Gore Hill and family and friends of the trainees.

Bob Sitsky
1958-59 Technicians

(Click image to enlarge)

Arthur Gray
Jim Wilkinson
Bob Sitsky
Arthur Gray
Jim Wilkinson
Bor Rose
Dave Brogden
Bob Rose
Dave Brogden

Those present in the photograph are:

Front row left to right:

Colin McPherson (58), Alan Sheffield (59), David Arthur (59), Artley Pickup (59), Bruce Watson (58), John Bourne (59), Bob Connor (58)

Rear row left to right:

Brian Thomas (58), Jeff Brown (58), John Nixon (58), Athol Adams (58) (partially obscured), Peter Ollier (59), Peter Lipscomb (59), David Lambert (59), Richard Carden (58) (partially obscured), Peter Knevitt (59), Peter Vendrell (59), John Marsden (58), Noel Cantrill (58)

Inserts are of those absent from the group photograph. They are: Arthur Gray (58), Bob Sitsky (58), Bob Rose (58), David Brogden (58). Jim Wilkinson (59 advanced) was also unable to attend.

Staff Training

Formal training for technical staff was not available in the fifties. Staff had to obtain relevant qualifications through self study. However there was a common thirst for knowledge and spontaneous group mentoring took place in the workplace.

The qualifications in those early days of television were : a BOCP for appointment as a Technician and a TVOCP for appointment as a Senior Technician. Both these exams had a theoratical component and a practical component. The exams were conducted externally by the PMG Department. Past copies of examinations were circulated, and staff used these papers to assist them in self study.

The main text books used during this time were: TV Engineering by Chin, Television Engineering by Amos & Birkenshaw. From 1958, after the appointment of a Supervising Technician (Training), internal notes became available on broadcasting topics such as 'The Image Orthicon Tube'.

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