Rare Abbey Road Studios tape machine found at student radio station

You'd expect to find many things inside a student radio station - half-eaten kebabs, empty lager cans, traffic cones - but a rare tape machine from Abbey Road Studios probably isn't one of them. But that's what turned up at Surge Radio, the student-run station at Southampton University Students' Union.

The machine in question is a BTR-3 (BTR stands for British Tape Recorder). These were made by EMI and in use from the late 1940s. There are only thought to be four still in existence (check your local student radio).

The BTR-3 was only ever used at Abbey Road Studios, which, as we all know, is where The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Oasis, Adele and many more have all recorded. It was used throughout the '60s, which many consider to be Abbey Road's heyday.

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The folks at Surge had no idea what they had on their hands. "When we first found the BTR-3 we had no idea what we'd stumbled across, only after an online search did we realise it was a piece of recording history from Abbey Road Studios," said Toby Leveson, station manager at Surge Radio.

"It's amazing to think that it had been sitting there undisturbed for such a long time. It's been great uncovering the mystery of it."

Mirek Stiles, head of audio products at Abbey Road Studios, said this was a rare find indeed: "This is an important discovery for the history of recorded music and finds like this are few and far between," he said. "When Toby from Surge Radio told me he had discovered a BTR-3 I had to contain my excitement, just in case it wasn't the genuine article."

Thankfully it was, and it's reportedly in very good condition to boot. Stiles is hopeful that the technical team at Abbey Road can restore it to its full working order.

Surge Radio kindly donated the radio to Abbey Road. The station will host a live broadcast from the legendary venue on Thursday 13th April. To listen in, head to surgeradio.co.uk.

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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.