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Old 5th Aug 2022, 2:26 pm   #1
Heatercathodeshort
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Default First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

This extract is from a large collection of daily diaries discovered at the tip about 25 years ago. All I can say is absolutely fascinating. They cover years 1930-1947. The guy purchased a new house at Gander Hill Haywards Heath in 1933 and had a very interesting life and workplace.
Granny [Worthing] gave him £10 towards a wireless. There is a description of the purchase of a McMichael Supervox at Gamages. A week after I rescued these diaries a Supervox turned up at the tip. That was rescued and I still have it. It must have been this one.
The entire life's record is outside the scope of this Forum but I will attempt to pull out the radio bits. two Telegrams from 1935 used as bookmarks.
Postcards posted by last evening post were delivered next morning, Guaranteed!
It was the last decade of a vanishing World finally ended on the 1st Sept 1939. It was never to be the same again. There is extensive descriptions of the bombing of the City of London and his lads watching the Americans arrive along the main road of Haywards Heath. [A272]?

Friday 15. 11.20.
Gloriously fine + fairly mild.
To Gamages at 4 with agreement for the wireless duly signed.
had it O.K.'d then set tested and packed up again and at last after an hours wait, staggered out with it in triumph sure of our children's hour for the weekend.
Taxi to the Bridge 2/- [London Bridge Station. J.] Dumped it in the cloakroom, had tea in ABC and home on 6.5 by taxi from the station [2/-] at 7pm.
Amid breathless excitement all round unpacked and set it going. D [His son David. J.] sat mute in a chair pale with tension and DB [his brother. J.] stood on the stool, hands in pockets, awed at first then rippling with fun at Falstaff's terrible language. They had to stay up till 9. I fed at 8.30 spent the whole evening till 11.15 in Babel [?] ranging the Continent from Athlone to Moscow through the British stations, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Stuttgart, Berlin Munich, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Stockholm Leningrad Oslo etc.
Munich with music from Faust, especially enjoyable.

Quite an astonishingly enjoyable evening and I begin to understand the manipulation of the knobs. Mira [his wife] became quite buoyant and joyous under the spell of the music.

Hope you find this interesting. John.
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Old 5th Aug 2022, 2:34 pm   #2
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Some archives may be interested in these. It would be worth contacting the Museum of London or your county archivist.

Well done for saving them.
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Old 5th Aug 2022, 2:41 pm   #3
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

They could always go in the BVWS archives.
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Old 5th Aug 2022, 5:33 pm   #4
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

I was thinking of the general historical info rather than the radio specific aspects. Detailed personal diaries are like gold dust for social historians. There's probably a PhD in there for somebody.
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Old 5th Aug 2022, 5:43 pm   #5
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Excellent find, truly fascinating.
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Old 5th Aug 2022, 6:39 pm   #6
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Brilliant stuff John, thanks for sharing it with us.

It's hard for later generations to understand the excitement generated by what to pre-war families was new technology. I still recall our first TV set arriving in 1958 or 59 when I was about 12. Viewing time for my brother and me was strictly rationed!

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Old 7th Aug 2022, 10:18 am   #7
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

The radio played a very important role during WW2. Mention is made in the diaries of evenings spent in the blackout with only the light from the scale glass to keep the family company. The radio is a 1934 McMichael purchased from Gamages and mentioned in the previous thread.
I know this is out of scope for this forum and understand if the moderators remove the thread or just close it to curtail extended discussion but it is a unique account of the bombing of the City of London and feel that it should be given a wider exposure to our Forum friends especially at it covers the period that many of our radio collections date from.
The guy that wrote the diaries lived at Gander Hill Haywards Heath in a new house built in 1933 and was employed at the Bank of England working from the 6th floor. The very detailed diaries cover the inter war period from around 1928 to 1947. The house had a massive garden and he was a fanatical gardener.


The answer to the National Day of Prayer Sunday 8th September 1940.
Monday 9th 8.30 PM. Caught 8.30 fully prepared to see plenty of bomb damage in town -but nothing like what I actually saw. Peckham Rye of all places- was as near to London Bridge as the train could go. There we were herded-packed tight-on to a little train fro Denmark Hill, Elephant and Castle and Blackfriars, a crawl which occupied 3/4 hour, landing us in Queen Victoria Street just before 10. Walked round to Cannon Street in vain hopes of getting a paper. Every other shop in Cannon Street with it's windows blown out. The station shut and road roped off at walbrook on account of a couple of bombs on the lower end of Abchurch Lane. 2 buildings hit in ruins. St Mary Abchurch damaged-as I saw this evening. After hot milk in Walbrook Lyons [no coffee available] walked up to bank seeing blown out windows all the way. A baker up from Woolwich told me 20 high explosions had fallen on the Arsenal and thousands of people buried in shelters. He had just come from Long Acre which was even worse hit he said. All clocks and nearly all windows facing on Bank Crossing blown right out. Threadneedle Street and Cornhill barricaded off-I had to show my Bank pass and put out my cigarette before I was allowed through. Then a saw the cause of the damage- a huge crater in Threadneedle Street between NW corner of exchange and the Bank walls extending the full width of the roadway and perhaps 20ft deep, rimmed with huge blocks of concrete. Chips off Bank walls and pillars, + some yards of balustrading blown away. The shops opposite quite wiped out. Inside the Bank a terrible mess. Every one of the great windows round the central well blown in, curtains in ribbons, massive bronze window frames twisted & bent like so much soft lead. Only one lift working. On every floor the same ruin of windows. Arrived on the 6th floor I was confronted with the big surprise. A direct hit on the Bank phone exchange. It had penetrated the roof and burst on then n7th floor blowing out a large hole. I went and stood in the directors kitchen on the 6th floor amid lumps of concrete and pools of leaking water immediately under the hole in the ceiling above and the roof above that. So one can say that the Bank is bomb proof from the 6th floor downwards. The bomb exploded only some 30 yards from my desk on the 6th floor and glass and splinters were lying in my basket. The wooden and glass partitions in our office were blown down+ and all the widows out it was necessary to move us all out to the sub-vault lecture hall for the day at any rate. Even down there glass and frames were smashed. All the clocks in the Bank stopped at 16 mins to 4 this morning. Only cold lunch available, gas & water being cut off throughout the bombed areas. Walked round Cannon Street and King William Street after dinner. Off at 4 and walked to cannon Street [ still closed] and on to London Bridge. In King William Street opposite the monument another colossal crater, explosive and incendiary bombs on Lloyds Bank [burning and in ruins]. All shop fronts on this crossing blown to matchwood and stone walls, also the monument torn with shrapnel, clocks blown out. Had to go around through Billingsgate& up the steps to Adelaide House. Direct hits on Fishmongers Hall & adjacent wharf producing fires that were still burning. Water pouring down the steps of the hall which remained a mere roofless shell. Found Brighton side of Bridge Station closed, so took the train to Charing X to District on to Victoria, arriving there at 5.15 soon after another warning. Caught 5.28 which took an hour to reach Croydon [bomb outside Battersea Power Station] passing through an air battle with bombs falling not far behind the train. Much AA fire many bombers and fighter, and 3 Gerries brought down- as the Croydon folks emerged from the burrows at the 'ALL Clear' signalled to us as we passed. Arrived HH [Haywards Heath. J.] 7.15]. Changed before grub. Retold my experiences to Boys. displayed my bit of Bank and wrote diary 8.30-9.30. Read papers from 9-11. M [Mira his wife. J.] and the boys had their excitement in local air battle & a bomber flying home with an engine on fire.
Well what a day! I wonder how many radio receivers were destroyed during WW2?
John
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 11:30 am   #8
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

A fantastic account of events, makes for a very interesting read. Very well done saving those diaries, it’s amazing what people chuck away.

I bet there were loads of radios destroyed, I have an Ekco AW88 that I was told was in a house that got bombed during the war, the top of the cabinet had been smashed in, and repaired with a piece of steel screwed along the rear edge to hold it all together, how true that story was I don’t know, but the repairs certainly looked old. I guess a radio was a high value item back then, and insurance might have been unaffordable or not have paid out enough to replace the set, so repairing it like that would have been the most sensible option.

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Old 7th Aug 2022, 12:08 pm   #9
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Again, I'd encourage you to contact your county archivist about these diaries. They will have an email address, or you may be able to contact them via the council website. Your nearest big library will have the contact details.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 12:26 pm   #10
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Hello Paul and thanks for your advice. I was thinking about donating them to the Imperial War Museum. There are around 20 detailed diaries giving a picture of inter war years including many descriptions of war time bombing that are probably unique. Regards, John.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 12:35 pm   #11
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

A very common occurrence when a bomb fell close by to a building, the cone was blown out of the speaker with no other apparent damage. Reading books of the time states that replacement speakers were hard to find! John.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 12:39 pm   #12
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Brighton or Sussex universities may also be interested in adding these documents to their archives.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 12:52 pm   #13
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Trouble with giving these to the archives is they’ll probably disappear never to see the light of day again, which would be a shame as they sound very interesting! Imperial war museum might be better as they might actually display them.

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Old 7th Aug 2022, 1:06 pm   #14
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

The important thing is that they're preserved and catalogued so that academic researchers can access them. Of course, it's possible that they're interesting enough for someone to actually want to publish them commercially - it's happened with diaries before.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 2:32 pm   #15
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

These diaries are a fascinating source of contemporaneous information about the pre-war and war years and are certainly worthy of a wider readership. They have echoes of The Mass-Observation project which was set up in 1937 to 'record the voice of ordinary people'. The project recruited volunteer observers to report to them and in 1939 invited people to send them an account of their lives. The film, ‘Housewife 49’, with the late Victoria Wood, records the diaries of Nella Last who was one of 500 people who took up this offer. ‘Bank Employee from Haywards Heath’ would be an interesting parallel.

As long as it is permissible within the rules of the Forum, I think that the explanation of ‘Babel’ that Heater Cathode Short had noted with a question mark in the first post relates to the Biblical story of the men of Shinar who became powerful and built a tower ‘with its top in the heavens’ so that they could be like the Gods. As a punishment, their speech was confused so that they could not understand what they said to one another, and it is called Babel because ‘there was made a babble of language all over the world’. Our Diarist friend spent an evening with his wireless ‘ranging the Continent from Athlone to Moscow through the British stations, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Stuttgart, Berlin Munich, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Stockholm Leningrad Oslo etc.’ so there would have been many languages that were indeed, just a babble to him.

In more recent times, ‘Babel-fish’ [coined by Douglas Adams in the Hitch Hikers guide to the Galaxy], was the name given to a multilingual translation application, later ‘Bing-Translator’ and now ‘Microsoft Translator’


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Old 14th Aug 2022, 10:59 am   #16
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Another radio related snippet. Sunday 7th April 1935.

When I came in at tea time I switched over to Luxembourg for the Ovalteenies half hour.
DB [Danny Boy] agreed that he's an Ovaltiney but a big boy nevertheless, he added. It was an enjoyable little feature, partly given by little children. Their sweet voices singing in chorus Appealed to DB. "That's like fairies singing" he commented."
Fireside and evening with wireless. bathe 10 bed 11.15.

The spelling of comes up different depending where you look!
John.
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Old 14th Aug 2022, 12:54 pm   #17
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Definitely worth saving.
As the writer was local-ish to Brighton, it would be worth contacting www.thekeep.info and/or www.mhms.org.uk

These organisations make invaluable info such as this available online. No point in it sitting in a dusty box in a BVWS committee member's garage for the next 20 years, whilst they wait for a 'roundtoit'
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Old 14th Aug 2022, 1:19 pm   #18
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Thanks for those links. I will contact them soon. I have a lot of sorting out to do. Regards, John.
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Old 16th Aug 2022, 5:15 am   #19
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

Very interesting and important social documents saved, I would make good copies of them before they are passed on to any museum and archived, they might end up safe but forgotten about.
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Old 16th Aug 2022, 12:51 pm   #20
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Default Re: First time testing. McMichael radio 15th March 1935.

How fascinating and valuable as a snapshot in time.
No doubt you will give due cogitation to selecting the most suitable organisation to preserve and digitise them.
On minor observation, the handwriting is excellent, well formed and legible, no doubt nothing of moment at the time but increasingly uncommon.
Perhaps a function of people seldom having occasion to write a letter these days?

The radio itself (Radiomuseum) looks rather interesting too.
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