Be transported back to the 1970s as community cable returns to your TV screens this summer. MADE in Bristol Television will be screening a half-hour special about Bristol Channel’s Knowle West TV every week from Friday 10th July, 8pm.
From discussions about the women’s liberation movement and the 1974 General Election to music from local bands and street interviews, the films provide a fascinating and witty insight into life in Bristol and Knowle West in the 1970s. Tune in to Freeview channel 8, Sky 117 or Virgin 159!
Bristol Channel was a community cable TV initiative, one of five in the UK authorised in the early 1970s. It was set up by Rediffusion, at the time the UK’s largest cable company, and reached 23,000 homes in Bristol via Rediffusion’s cable network in 1973. Between 1973-75, a team of volunteers and staff from Bristol Channel worked with organisations and communities across Bristol to record hundreds of hours of footage.
Knowle West TV was one of the strands of programming broadcast on Bristol Channel between December 1973 and March 1975, when the channel closed. Local residents were trained to use a portapak (one-inch portable TV unit) to shoot footage, which was then converted to one-inch standard IVC videotape. Just over 21 hours of local material was produced and 38 hours were transmitted.
The Bristol Channel film archive is currently stored at the British Film Institute in London, and the administrative paper archive at Bristol Record Office. In 2014, the Knowle West TV stock was digitized. As well as being archived by KWMC, copies of digitised footage are also held at Bristol Record Office, alongside the paper archive.
Keen to identify the people and places in the footage, and explore the parallels with contemporary experiences of life in Knowle West, KWMC and the Know Your Bristol project collaborated to bring the footage back to the community that had inspired and produced it forty years ago.
This summary draws on a study of the station and its output written by Peter Lewis, the Station Manager.