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Where To Get Sets and Parts For discussions about swapmeets, rallies, NVCF and BVWS, car boot sales, antique and charity shops, dealers, newspaper adverts, the local tip and just about any other source of equipment (other than eBay).

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Old 14th May 2010, 10:08 pm   #1
Geoff G4ICD
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Default Birketts in Lincoln

Dropped into John Birkett's shop in Lincoln this week, even spent a handful of notes on very hard to find disc ceramic caps, he still has 3 shops full of old parts, had a long chat with him re the old days of Hal Perkins (Western Electronics of Louth) at a staggering 82 years young he is a remarkable man...... Geoff
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Old 14th May 2010, 10:28 pm   #2
Peter.N.
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Now there's a blast from the past, had no idea that they were still going. A few years back I spoke to someone on the radio using J E Annakin's call, G2AK I think, and found he was still going, remember both from Wireless world in the '50's

Peter
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Old 15th May 2010, 8:00 am   #3
GrimJosef
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

It's years and years since I was in his shop, but wasn't that John behind a stall at the NVCF ? I bought some 450V electrolytics there.

Cheers,

GJ
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Old 15th May 2010, 2:19 pm   #4
Geoff G4ICD
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Yes it was, John told me that he had been to the last 4 meetings with his old bits and bobs...Geoff
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Last edited by Dave Moll; 15th May 2010 at 2:48 pm. Reason: unnecessary quote of preceding post removed
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Old 15th May 2010, 3:28 pm   #5
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

I have known John for almost half a century. I used to live in Gainsborough and as soon as I could drive I would be over to Lincoln seeking all sorts of items to build audio amplifiers, I was a dab hand with a pair of EL34s, or the STC miniature 807 which (surplus) was only 5 shillings as against the 15 shillings for a new EL34. It also had the advantage of a top cap anode to avoid octal base flash-overs.

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Brian
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Old 16th May 2010, 11:12 pm   #6
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Hi.
Yes, I too remember John Birkett. Back in the early 70's I purchased some multi core cable and a stack of 12volt relays for an alarm system I was designing for Cherry Valley Farm's hatchery at Usselby near Market Rasen in Lincs. As I am still in touch with them I am informed it is still working! I want to obtain some electrolytic capacitors for a Link Trainer I am rebuilding for the local Aviation Museum and I am getting a not known message at the email address on hie letter head, any ideas?

Ken
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Old 17th May 2010, 10:09 am   #7
G8HQP Dave
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

I don't think the Birketts really 'do' the internet. Their website just says 'this is our website'!. Best to phone.
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Old 17th May 2010, 8:07 pm   #8
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Yes best to phone if you can't go in person, Due to John's age the shop is only open part time and it's a bit pot luck as to who will answer.

Brian S
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Old 14th Jun 2010, 12:23 am   #9
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Hi

I stumbled on this forum whilst looking for info on an HMV 1126 valve radio.

I used to work for Burkitts in the early 1970's. It was a fabulous time to be 18 and a fabulous place to work if you were mad on electronics, like I was.

The shop at 25/26 The Strait is incredible. When i was there it went up 3 floors and back at last 150 feet. There was literally a couple of hundred tons of electronic components in there, anything you could imagine, from unmarked Plessey 4 bit microprocessors to ex-WD 1126 radio sets. Every room, every corridor, every staircase was piled floor to ceiling with boxes.

In the 1970's , John had contacts at Marconi GEC, and was buying untested and sometimes unmarked semiconductors by the skipful. We built our own test gear, i spent many hours testing diodes, thyristors, triacs, zeners and all sort of transistors. We would sell them in mixed bags.

Similarly, he would buy vast, huge amounts of discreet components - resistors, caps, coils, all sorts. We would set up two long tables with about 50 boxes of random components in one of the rooms at the back, then you went along the row with an A4 sized zip bag, sticking a pinch of each in.These 'mixed component' bags sold like hot cakes at 1 each. (remember this was 1970!!)

It was a stunning, unique experience. I started playing with electronics at the age of 10 using valves, and whilst there got unlisted play with transistors then 74 series IC's. We were building Disco lighting such as ring counter and sound to lights YEARS before the big boys such as Pulsar Light of Cambridge was.

Unfortunately, the golden age of amateur electronics is over, never to be repeated. You cant really get the components anymore, and havent been able to for 20 years. I used to get Practical Wireless - there was always something in each issue to build, over the years i built all sorts of stuff. The one i remember the best was a sound activated flash trigger. My dad was a photographer, we took some amazing pictures of balloons and bottles bursting 1/5000 of a second after the bang.

Burkitts attracted some seriously clever blokes as well. There was a guy called Joe Rose, a slow scan TV fanatic, he actually owned an entire BBC Outside Broadcast Unit complete with 4 cameras and a 2 inch tape unit and mixing desk. There was another guy who worked at the Medical Physics Dept atthe hospital, he woudl come up with circuits for us to build and test, a seriously clever bloke. During the Winter of Discontent he invented an Inverter using two OC25 power transistors that would drive a 6 foot fluorescent tube off a car battery. We built a few and the sold like hot cakes, couldnt make them fast enough, and we sold them as kits as well!!

I went on the do TV repair as well at other places, and then had a 20 year career in Local Government IT, jumping on the IT bandwagon in the early 1980's, when jobs were plenty and the IT path was paved with gold.

I recently built a conservatory, and we wanted an old radio in it, i got one at auction, its sort of worked, and i came to the conclusion after several weeks of messing the W77 had lost emission, and in my search for one i arrived here. I have now replaced it and the radio works pretty well. You never forget how to fix them.

I pop in to see John sometimes, the shop is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, although it long stopped being a shop, its really a drop in centre for old radio hams and tv engineers to have a natter. he sits in there holding court, and a long stream of old friends call by.

Bukitts was a legend, there wasnt another shop like it, and there never will be again.
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Old 15th Jun 2010, 12:38 am   #10
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Thanks for your experiences, I remember their ads in Practical Wireless, its one of those names that burned into my memory like G W Smith, London Central Radio stores, Sterns, Laskeys and many others. Practically every town had a Gov't surplus store, very often in ramshackle old buildings, there was one in Bromley and a shop in Orpington High St. When we went on holiday in the '40s and '50s the first thing I would do would be to look for a surplus store, found one in Bournmouth and spent half my holiday in there - at the tender age of about ten.

Peter
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Old 27th Aug 2010, 5:23 pm   #11
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Called in here today. Opening hours are 10-4 Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thay are having a stall at the National Hamfest at Newark in October. I paid 3 each for some ECL82s and 2 each for 0B2s as well as picking up tag strip, group board and some old multi-section electrolytics.

Well worth a visit if you are in the area!
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Old 31st Jul 2011, 3:16 pm   #12
paulsouth
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Birketts is still trading, thank goodness; I think they've had a repaint.
There's an up to date photo here:
http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/.../business.html
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Old 1st Aug 2011, 1:06 pm   #13
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Birkett's still have an ad in Radcom every month. Usual stuff is germanium diodes, yaxley switches, PO relays etc. I remember building pre-amps and stuff with his 'out of spec' fets. It's a shame that the golden days of construction are gone, but boy what fun we had!
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Old 2nd Aug 2011, 6:36 pm   #14
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

I worked at GEC/Marconi from 1990 until redundancy came along 11 years later. I remember John calling in to collect boxes of out-of-spec components and any scrap equipment (scopes etc.) that were lying about.

I used to call in regularly during dinner times and so did many others. When John used to get fresh equipment in, word soon got round the factory and there would be a mad dash the next day to get hold of whatever-it-was. The liquidation stock was the best of all.

When the Carholme Road site where I worked was closed () the HP 9000 mainframe was de-commissioned. We loaded all the HP terminals into the back of a van and took them to the shop. We were let in to the back yard, which was just like the shop, totally full of stuff.

The Carholme Road site is rapidly being turned into a housing estate, but Birketts lives on. Happy days indeed................

Mark.
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Old 23rd Aug 2011, 11:43 pm   #15
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Hello,
Interesting topic. Would the Birketts shop you are discussing be on the street that leads up to Lincoln Cathedral? If so that must be the place I used to visit when over to see my relatives in Brant Broughton, Lincs, during the early 70's. In those days I was more interested in semiconductors than anything else. I seem to remember getting a lot of SCR's, Triacs and Unijunctions at bargain prices. Amazing that the place still exists if it is the one you are talking about.

Regards.
David.
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Old 24th Aug 2011, 6:06 pm   #16
G8HQP Dave
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Yes, on the long steep hill up to the cathedral. Who said electronics is a hobby for couch potatoes? You need to be fit to reach Birketts!
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 10:22 pm   #17
weanedontubes
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Thanks for the reply Dave.
So it was the same shop location. You talk about walking up that hill. I have done it and I do re-call it being steep
If I re-call rightly I had actually driven and parked on that hill. I would imagine today that it might be only for pedestrians.
Regards.
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 11:43 am   #18
G8HQP Dave
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

It is a while since I was up there, but I think most of it is now for pedestrians only.
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 1:43 am   #19
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

If anyone takes a trip to Birketts, just ask if he has any wander plugs? It's the kind of place where one might find a box of 100+. If he has any, how about a group buy? I have enough for my needs but would like some more to help others with.
Les
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Old 13th Jul 2013, 5:55 pm   #20
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Default Re: Birketts in Lincoln

Hi all,

As I was transiting between relatives "up north" I was able to stop and spend a bit of time in Birketts in Lincoln. The good news is that the shop is still there and John is still in good form (although his sight is beginning to fail).

The bad news is that as John says "it is the end if an era" and so is in the process of "down sizing" to the extent that the 1154/1155 in the window, all valves and AFxxx series transistors have been sold. There is however still a lot of stuff there and he intends to be at selected shows/rallies in the future.

Best to ring first if you intend going though to check he still has what you want - especially if you are travelling a distance. Parking is also very difficult/expensive around there too.

Still an experience to savour though.

Regards

TYJ
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