A Dramatic U-matic Roadtrip

Dig Media Archive
3 min readMay 17, 2022

Since my last blog post, a lot has changed and I have had some very memorable days working here at Dig.

One day that springs to mind was the day I went to London to retrieve a tape recorder for the digitising of the archive. I set off at 4am (with my very kind friend who kept me company on the journey) and cruised down the M6 to make it in London for 9am, just in time for rush hour :). After driving at a crawling pace for the final hour, we made it to Battersea Bridge and I had an uncontrollable urge to be a cliché London tourist and blast ‘London Calling’ by The Clash from the car speakers.

After I got that out of my system I was back on the mission of finding the man with the tape recorder. We pulled up to the storage place to collect, to then learn that the guy gave the wrong location and he was in fact on the other side of Battersea. Classic. However, we had gone too far to moan and groan so we persevered to the right location. We finally pulled up at the right storage place, where the man offered to show us around his vault of hundreds (if not thousands) of tape recorders piled on top of each other. He said he inherited them from his father who used to collect them and fix them up. Once we said goodbye and jetted off (tape recorder in tow) we had one last thing we wanted to do.

I had a lunch hour that was not going to be misused. The goal? To see as many landmarks in central London as we could. I found the nearest place to park and we ran for the closest tube stop. Fortunately, there was one nearby so I dusted off the oyster card, tapped through the gate, and rushed up the stairs to the platform to find out there were no tubes into central London — just a train to Epsom Downs — wherever that is.

Since losing 5 minutes of the allotted 60, we knew we had even less time to waste. Plan B was now in action. I found the nearest actual tube station and we made a run for it. My google maps told me it was 12 minutes away and couldn’t be done in 10 — we did it in 8! After achieving the impossible, we knew getting into central London was our destiny. The dream was at our fingertips. We floated through the station gates, armed with our Oyster cards, and trekked up the escalators to reach our fate. It was bad news. We looked up at the boards, the next tube was in 13 minutes. As much as we wanted to wait, the minutes were slipping between our fingers like grains of sand. Regrettably, the dream had to be abandoned. We had already wasted enough time and money searching for our very own Timbuktu.

U-matic videocassette player.

After a brief discussion, we decided to stay in Battersea, since there was still plenty to see there with the remaining 40 minutes. We visited the Battersea Power Station and basked in its glory before having a quick mooch by the river. Who wants to see St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, or the Tate Modern when you can see a glorified building site for luxury flats? Not us, that’s for sure.

Once I had taken an obligatory tourist photo outside Battersea Power Station, we headed off back to the car and made the journey back to MediaCity to drop off the tape recorder at Dig. After travelling 430 miles and being on the go for 12 hours, I finally got home and had a few well-deserved z’s.

Now to crack on with the digitisation of Jack Henry Moore’s archive.

Blog by Oliver Mawson (twitter: @olivermawson1). For more on the Dig Media Archive visit www.dig.media. Follow us on our socials at @digmediaarchive .Visit our Youtube page for exclusive archive content.



Dig Media Archive

Cultural archive documenting the performing arts scene in London, Paris and Amsterdam in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Collection curated by Jack Henry Moore.