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Old 7th Apr 2021, 5:38 pm   #1
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland, UK.
Posts: 111
Default Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

I don't know if this is the best place for a childhood recollection of a radio Aladdin's cave but here goes...

Back around I guess 1974 ish when I was around 9 I was already very much into electronics and had reached an age where I was for the first time allowed to go up that last mysterious flight of stairs and door at my grandparents multi storey house and into what I was told was the attic...

I recall getting an immediate feeling/impression that I was maybe the first person to enter this realm for many years and that it had been "abandoned" for decades... however be aware that this tale is the memories of a then 9 year old! It was dusty everywhere and there were no footprints in the dust other than the ones I was creating though... IIRC!

I can't pretend to know what was/is normal as an attic in such a house but I recall that after going through this door it was in effect another storey of the house, with a corridor and certainly 3 rooms that I can remember and a door to each room.

What I found in these attic rooms would certainly warrant my borrowing a time machine!

It was an absolute treasure trove of vintage, indeed probably veteran, radios and components!

I had the impression that they were all/nearly all home made. They dated from the period of around 1915 to 1927-30 ISH I would guess. Sets were built breadboard style and some had early bright emitter type valves. There were horn speakers, early mains energised extension speakers which I recall one having a woodland scene front and another which I now know was probably Pye and had the rising sun design, valves still in their boxes, coils still in their boxes and which I vividly remember one having "What are the wild waves saying" printed on the box. None of this was on shelves or appeared to have been "carefully stored". All the sets were just placed on the floorboards seemingly at random. As a rough estimate based on my probably unreliable memory as a 9 year old there were maybe 8 or so complete sets, a few dozen boxed valves and a few more just laying around, 5 or so speakers, a dozen or more boxed "NOS" tuning condensers, coils etc and all sorts of sundry paraphernalia such as long turned to a corroded heap HT dry batteries, glass 2V accumulators.... just sitting there seemingly where they'd been left in say 1930 at the latest judging from the kit.

In a third smaller room there was a large HMV acoustic gramophone in a wooden console with boxes of needles next to the platter and a selection of more radio components.

Twice a month visits to the grandparents became a much more looked forward to adventure for a short while! I was not allowed to take anything from this new found wonderland and under strict orders not to mess with it! Of course yes I wound up the gramophone to see if it still went round... it did! I can even recall the scraping noise it made at a point on each revolution. I can't recall hearing it play though so not sure if there were no records or if I didn't dare allow its sound to give away the fact that I had in fact "messed with stuff"!

Unfortunately after 5 or so hour longish visits after discovering Narnia's world (to a young electronics geek anyway) both of my grandparents on that side of the family died within around 3 weeks of each other and I was never to visit the house or its treasure trove ever again...

What happened to all this vintage wireless treasure I have no idea. 9 year olds were not involved in the clearance and disposal of contents of their late grandparents house and when I asked my own parents about it many years later they had no specific recollection of what happened to it all. Just a vague "ah I believe your great uncle was really into wireless so it must have been his".
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