Saturday, March 23, 2013

Defiant Radio Story #1

The Rochdale Pioneers Museum is having a 'Defiant Radios Fun Day'. That's Wednesday April 10th 2013 from 1100 - 1600h. A heady cocktail of vintage radio and co-operative history. Steady.

The Defiant radio story is one of co-operatives set against price fixing by a cartel of electrical manufacturers. At the time the Co-op wanted to sell radio sets but they could not "discount" and the "divi" was a form of discount. So the solution was to find a subcontractor to make their own brand. Eventually a deal was struck with Plessey to make the radios, with Mazda valves the brand name of BTH (British Thompson-Houston, I think it was a subsidiary of AEI then) and the wooden cases to enclose the receiver were supplied  by the CWS cabinet works. It's appropriate that they called their own brand of radio "Defiant".

The Resale Prices Act abolished price fixing in 1964. After that the retailer or chain store could decide their own price for goods . Ironically the end of retail price maintenance in Britain had a devastating affect on co-operative society sales especially food, and helped the rise of the multiples  .

The Defiant wireless sets were on sale from 1933 with the MSH 901 manufactured by GEC but they joined the Radio Manufacturers Association embargo of dealing with the CWS hence a 1934 deal with Plessey. Later radiograms, gramophones, record players, transistor radios and a television in the 1950's were available. At least 85 different models were put on sale until 1967. All now collectors'  items but affordable that is if you can obtain a working model. Why haven't I bought one?

Back in the 1930's a wireless would set you back two weeks average wages of work, there weren't many radio stations to tune into and you had to pay the annual licence fee of ten shillings (50p). But still a must have big ticket item of its day bringing music and talk into your home that we take for granted.

Pictures : Dial of the Defiant MSH902 from 1934; Defiant MSH914 from 1935-1938,

Link :Rochdale Pioneers Museum Defiant Radio Day
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