Peter Keith Murray

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Sir
Patrick Ian Keith Murray
10th Baronet of Ochertyre, Perth
Born (1904-08-28)28 August 1904
12 Lennox Street, Edinburgh
Died 18 June 1962(1962-06-18) (aged 57)
Aberturret, Crieff, Perthshire
Nationality Scottish
Education Harrow School, London
Alma mater
  • Heriot Watt College, Edinburgh
  • Faraday House, London
Occupation
  • BBC Scottish OB assistant, 1934–1939
  • BBC Assistant Programme Director, 1940
Parent(s)
  • Patrick Keith Murray
  • Cecelia Mary Dorothea Sprot

Sir Patrick Ian Keith (10th Baronet) Murray (1904–1962) (usually abbreviated to P. I. Keith Murray) was a broadcaster, writer, and inventor who served as director of the BBC's outside broadcasts in Scotland, often referred to as "Peter" Keith Murray.

Early life

Patrick Ian Keith Murray was the son of Patrick Keith Murray (1878–1937) and Cecelia Mary Dorothea Sprot (died 1964) (married 1903). He was a nephew of Sir William Keith Murray, of Auchtertyre Estate.

He was educated at Harrow, the independent boarding school for boys in London. He continued his studies back in Edinburgh at Heriot Watt College and then at Faraday House Electrical Engineering College in London, which was created to train engineers in power generation and distribution.

According to author Pat Walker, Keith Murray allegedly ran away from Harrow at 16 to work as a mining engineer in South Wales, before moving to India.

India

In 1925 he went to India, where he occupied himself mainly with the electrification of mines. Between 1926 and 1929 represented the Chicago-based Goodman Mining Machinery Company in India.[1] During the next four years he was agent for the Sathgram Colliery and a technical writer with The Statesmen, the English-language broadsheet daily newspaper for Calcutta.

In 1926 he started his own broadcasting station in Calcutta before the Indian broadcasting system was in operation. When they started, Keith Murray was on their advisory staff. In 1927 India, through his transmitter, heard the chimes of Big Ben for the first time.[2]

BBC career

In 1933 he returned to Britain and, in 1934, joined the BBC as outside broadcasts assistant.

One of his programmes, in a series called Inside Information, had him at a high pitch of complexity. It was a triumph of technical pluggery and skill with almost as many sources as there were minutes in the programme. A few days after the broadcast, a postcard from a listener arrived on his desk. It said, quite simply, "By all means have your fun, but give the listener a chance." [3]

His programmes included series such as Inside Information, Night Out, billed as "a miscellaneous collection of outside broadcasts to suit all tastes".

He relayed his knowledge of India to children in the 1936 schools programme Junior Geography: 'The Empire Overseas', in which he explained how India was more than a land of snakes, tigers, and elephants; and that there were also "coal mines such as may be found in Fife, iron-works like those in Falkirk, and jute factories like those in Dundee".

He formed an outside broadcast department in Scotland in 1939, a few days before the Second World War. The BBC formed a new war section with Keith Murray as organiser.

During the war he took up the position of Assistant Programme Director, in place of Gordon Gildard. He was In charge of the Topicality section, and worked closely with Programme Director Andrew Stewart.[4] Along with Robert Dunnett, P. I. Keith Murray presented the twice weekly Scottish Letter, which was part of the Radio Newsreel feature broadcast to listeners in the United States and Canada.[5]

Colliery electrician

He left the BBC in 1942 to enter the political intelligence department of the Foreign Office, where he remained until 1944.

After Ernest Bevin, the wartime minister of labour and national service, conscripted one in ten 18 to 25 year-olds to work in the mines, P. I. Keith Murray (who was aged about 40 at the time) volunteered his services and became a pit electrician at Plean Colliery, near Stirling.

Billed as "the flrst broadcast ever to be made from the coal face", the colliery made history in a BBC Scottish Home Service programme on the night of Wednesday 29 August 1945, when Keith Murray put together a programme called Miners On and Off The Job, recorded at No 16 Level, No 5 pit:

In an introductory commentary, Mr Murray said at one time the sun had shone on the place where he stood but if they wanted to see the sun now, they would haye to travel one and a half miles up a steep gradient and thereafter up the pit cage. He brought to the 'mike' Jimmy Cherry, the electrician who laid the cables for the broadcast; Jock Tait, a Bevin boy; Jock Crowe, Jock Findlay, Dan Gillan, David McArthur and Robert Davidson, typical mine workers. McArthur, a coal-cutting machineman, has been twenty years at coal-winning, but he is a youngster compared with Robert Davidson (54 years down the pit), and Gillan (50 years). Gillan told his radio audience that he lost his father and brother in a pit accident in the 'bad old days'. But Mr Gillan has seen working conditions improve. Biggest single improvement, he thought, was the provision of pit baths. Mining is still hard and dangerous work, he said, but not so dangerous as at one time, thanks to modern safety measures.[6]

Preceding the recording at the coal face was a concert broadcast from the public hall, introduced by Leo Hunter, with Keith Murray providing the commentary.[7]

The 'Mutron Universal Analyser'

In 1946, following a series of colliery explosions around the country, Keith Murray invented an instrument capable of locating faults and breaks in electric cables which showed no visible marks. After carrying out experiments at Plean, he took a 155-foot length of cable to his home, Aberturret House in Crieff, where he successfully demonstrated his findings to representatives of the Trailing Cable Committee, which had been set up by the Ministry of Fuel and Power after the Barnsley Main Colliery explosion of 1942.[8]

In August 1947, a new company, Mutron Ltd, was registered to acquire Keith Murray's patents and manufacture his portable electric instrument (he was one of five directors of the company).[9] The 'Mutron Universal Analyser' was believed to be the first electronic instrument designed for almost universal application in collieries, power stations, and other industries. As well as measuring electric currents, vibrations, and temperatures, the device, which was no bigger than a portable radio, could indicate the length of a cable on a drum, or be used for telephonic communication. In pitch darkness readings could be obtained by sound.[10] When it went on view in the scientific instrument section at the Enterprise Scotland 1947 exhibition it was said to have attracted attention from around the world.[11]

Freelance broadcasting

In 1946, Keith Murray left Plean Colliery and resumed some freelance broadcasting activities with the Scottish Home Service.

From 27 August 1946, he reprised his pre-war, Night Out programme, in which he took the microphone from one outside broadcast point to another in rapid succession, evesdropping on entertainments and events, including surprises for unknown listener who found themselves participating in the broadcasts.

From Friday 27 September 1946, he took over as the new quiz master of Call Yourself a Scot?, a popular feature on the Heather Mixture variety programme, produced by Howard Lockhart.[12]

In 1947 he conducted private research on electronic apparatus and was technical adviser to Mutron Ltd. (Electronic Instruments).

His mind ran particularly to inventions and he had an alternative TV system to both the Baird and the EMI before any decisions were taken about either of them.

Personal life

Keith Murray was married to Liska Hortense Creet (9 Oct 1907, Calcutta, Bengal, India–1993, Crieff), later Lady Creet, who was educated at the independent Battle Abbey School in East Sussex. Her family owned the Sathgram Colliery which he worked at in the 1920s and this is presumably how they met.[13] They had a son, William Patrick Keith Murray (11th Baronet) (1939–1977), who attended Morrison's Academy, Crieff in 1947, but who died at the age of 38.

Baronetcy

In 1956, Sir Patrick succeeded his uncle, the late Sir William Keith Murray, as the tenth holder of the Murray baronet of Ochertyre, Perth, which was created in 1673.

Death

Sir Patrick Keith Murray died on 18 June 1962 at his home at Aberturret, Crieff, at the age of 57. He was survived by Lady Murray and his son and heir, William Patrick Keith Murray.

References

  1. Although, the Evening Telegraph states that in 1926 he was in charge of the engineering department of Kilburn & Company, Calcutta.
  2. 'Brain Behind The Magic Box', Evening Telegraph, 3 September 1947, 2.
  3. Pat Walker, The BBC in Scotland: The First Fifty Years (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2011)
  4. 'Scottish Region Staff', circa January 1940, BBC WAC R13/372.
  5. 'Scotland's Point of View', Perthshire Advertiser, 7 August 1940, 14.
  6. 'Miners' Broadcast', Stirling Observer, 30 August 1945, 5.
  7. 'Plean: Concert', Falkirk Herald, 1 September 1945, 6.
  8. 'Invention Aids Pit Safety', Courier, 23 July 1946, 2.
  9. 'New Companies', Courier, 23 August 1947, 4.
  10. 'Brain Behind The Magic Box', Evening Telegraph, 3 September 1947, 2.
  11. 'Perthshire Man's Invention', Courier, 23 August 1947, 3.
  12. Earlier that summer, on Friday 7 June 1946, he was quiz master in a special 'Scottish Quiz' broadcast as part of the BBC's first Scottish post-war exhibition, held in Perth. See: 'Scottish Broadcasting News', Falkirk Herald, 29 May 1946, 6.
  13. Case at Calcutta High Court, 22 May 1936.