The 1959 election was the first election covered by commercial television and the BBC pulled out all the stops to make this a massive occasion which set the tone for all subsequent General Elections in the UK. The operation involved 55 cameras positioned around the UK and was anchored by Richard Dimbleby in the studio together with Robert McKenzie. There were teams at Party Headquarters and at key constituencies with reporters like Cliff Mitchelmore, Alan Wicker, Fyfe Robertson, Robert Kee, David Coleman, Raymond Baxter as well as Lord Boothby and Herbert Morrison.
One of the early points of interest then as now was, who will declare first. The race was between Billericay, Cheltenham, Exeter and Salford with Southampton seen as an outside bet. Raymond Baxter was at the Archer Hall for the count which was presided over by the Deputy Acting Returning Officer Alma Hat (after whom Alma Way, the entrance to the Waitrose car park, is named after). As you will see in the recording of the BBC programme shown on that night, Thursday 8th October 1959, the Returning Officer for Essex, the High Sheriff, Major Geoffrey Benyon Hoare, pulled rank and stole the limelight on television after Mr. Hat had done all the hard work.