A Potted History of some famous UK Radio Manufacturers


 Shepherds Bush in London, suggested the name for a new radio company founded there in 1932. The company was formed as a subsidiary to the Gaumont British Picture Corporation after the ex-MD of the recently defunct Graham Amplion loudspeaker company had explained to the former's bosses that the Cinema industry was going to be associated with Television in a big way sooner rather than later. The way into TV, he explained, was through Radio and the first step was to set up a small radio design and manufacturing business so work started with a small band of men and women upstairs in one of Gaumont's factories.

1951 advertisement

Because of restrictions and protectiveness in the industry, Bush had to set up a chain of appointed dealers outside the "Radio Wholesalers Federation" but quickly sold 4000 of their first offering, a small 3-valve AC table model radio at their list price of £11. Having such a strong backing was useful as marketing was helped along by the Gaumont chain advertising and displaying Bush receivers in their cinema foyers. I don't remember the radios but I do remember that Gaumont cinemas had a big pool of goldfish in their foyers, at least I remember the one in our local picture house, after the war in Allerton, Liverpool.

Another boost to sales happened in 1935 when every Gaumont cinema hooked up a Bush radio and relayed King George V's Jubilee speech to audiences, reckoned to be about a million. This was accompanied by a major Bush Dealer's advertising campaign resulting in the Bush factory expanding over the road and then to new premises in Chiswick. By 1939 the workforce had grown to nearly 700, but in the thirties Bush had been known for reliability and quality performance rather than eye-catching design and this probably restricted their growth. Post war advertisements continued to stress quality and carried pictures of Christopher Stone who, it was said, portrayed a rather stuffy image compared with other manufacturers advertisements. The slightly stuffy image was perhaps compounded by what Bush called "Bi-Focal Tone". This was nothing to do with Mr.Stones spectacles, but was merely an arrangement of a resistor or two to reduce gain and provide negative feedback to improve the linearity of audio reproduction.
The fact that the name Bush is nowadays associated with Rank is due entirely to its film industry origin, in fact J Arthur Rank took a keen, hands- on interest in Bush after his company absorbed Gaumont in 1945 and so after the war Bush continued to expand, initially into additional premises in London, and then in 1949, into a new factory in Plymouth. There, television later joined radio production stretching the size of the new factory tenfold to 400,000 square feet.
In 1962, Murphy another big name, was looking for a buyer and after an initial approach by Thorn, sold out to Rank. Bush now became "Rank Bush Murphy" with its new J Arthur Rank logo.


This snap was probably taken in the Bush radio laboratory in 1937

The young man on the left is Charles Gant, the father of Linda Irwin who kindly provided it to add a touch of authenticity to my Bush history jottings.

The chap on the right may be the Chief Engineer.. does anyone recognise him?

The valves on the RHS of the picture (VP13 etc?) give a clue to the model of radio on the bench. Mike Izycky at the BBC reckons it's a "43" model. If it's the DAC43, then that was introduced in January 1937. Left of centre appears to be a wobbulator, and on the right, maybe a bridge for capacitance measurement and of course a ubiquitous AVO which hasn't changed much in nearly 70 years. Clearly a good design!


Mike Westgate, sent me this picture of a German-made Aumann coil winding machine on one of his two benches at RBM. Mike, who worked for Rank Bush Murphy from 1961 to 1964 in their colour TV development lab, worked first at Kew Gardens then at Power Road Chiswick.
He now runs his own business, in New Zealand, about which you can find more by visiting his website mikewestgatesound.


A second of Mike's pictures showing production lines at Chiswick.


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