Sunday, 28 August 2011

Coffee break at Bush House

First published in the Collectors’ Corner column of the British DX Club’s monthly journal Communication, July 2007. To download  a free sample copy of the journal and to read more about the club and membership please go to:

Is collecting coffee cups a mug’s game? Probably not, but it is one of the many offshoots that a radio hobbyist might veer into, quite by chance. Many radio stations give away cups and mugs depicting their logos and frequencies, and it is quite easy to end up with a cupboard full.

The 2005 BDXC visit to World Radio Network in London also saw all attendees receiving a rather nice WRN mug. And if you are visiting BDXC HQ in Caversham you would be very unfortunate not to sup a cup of tea from one of many varied radio station cups that are amassed there.

Other, less celebrated, radio souvenirs might include paperweights. During building renovations in the mid 1980s a popular sales item in the BBC World Information Centre and Shop were paperweights made of chunks of Portland stone from the building, encased in plastic, bearing the legend. “A piece of the BBC. Bush House is being rebuilt.[actually it was being partially repaired and refurbished] This Portland stone came from its walls.” (pictured). This was a supreme piece of recycling / marketing dreamt up by Mike Cronk, (now on the BBC WS Management Board).

When the shop opened, (originally for one year only as part of BBC External Service’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 1982), it stocked a conventional line of merchandise, which in time became quite an esoteric range. BBC pens, diaries, bags, towels, bookmarks, baseball caps and tee-shirts were joined on the shelves by furry insects, umbrellas and golf balls bearing BBC logos.

An over optimistic order of cups created a six foot high pyramid in the stock room: 2,000 white china cups with the BBC crest and “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation” and 2,000 with “BBC World Service-a world of difference.” If you have one of
these it is more of sentimental value rather than a valuable rarity. However, the Dunoon ceramics bone china cups (pictured) with drawings of Bush House were a limited edition.

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