@HantsFlyer I put this on there then removed it as it was long
Caversham Park was built in 1850 to replace an earlier manor house which had been destroyed by a fire. Its architect, Horace Jones, also designed Tower Bridge in London. By the 20th century it was being used by Catholic Oratorians as a school.
BBC Monitoring was set up in 1939 to monitor Nazi broadcasts, and was initially based in a set of shacks in Wood Norton, Worcestershire, but by 1943 it had commandeered Caversham Park, which was being used as a hospital at the time. A site outside London was chosen in part because it was less likely to suffer bomb damage.
BBC Monitoring transcribed and summarised 240 broadcasts into an 80,000-word document called the daily digest, which was swiftly delivered to London by war despatch drivers. BBC Monitoring played a key role in tapping communications made by Hellschreiber (a kind of teleprinter) from Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to newspaper and radio networks.
People of many nationalities worked at the monitoring station, including German-Jewish refugee Karl Lehmann, whose family fled Nazi rule.
It was a very sociable place to work, in fact staff would often come in on their off days and eat in the canteen, which greatly eased the effects of rationing…There was a library in the building, and the park - so a pleasant place to spend a day off. In fact the building was almost like a club and the service was like one big family - even though there were nearly 1,000 of us here in total, from monitors to engineers and editors. We were all totally united in the one aim of winning the war.
By the end of the war 1,000 people worked at Caversham Park helping to provide the War Office and BBC journalists with up-to-date information from Axis Power news agencies; the news of Adolf Hitler’s death was first heard in the building by Karl Lehmann who was monitoring German state radio on the evening on 1 May 1945.
Following the war, the department played a key role in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and listened in on historic moments such as the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the Arab Spring in 2010. The site was also used by BBC Radio Berkshire.
Following the cessation of government funding for BBC Monitoring in 2010, the service was downsized and staff moved to London by May 2018, with the last BBC staff from BBC Radio Berkshire vacating the site in November 2018.