Wartime Civilian Radios

ser nos. U18 05472 and U7 9102

Wartime Civilian Radio 195-250V AC mains operated MW only radios

With materials in short supply during WW2, and money limited, a large number of people couldn’t afford to buy a radio to keep up with the latest news. The government belatedly came up with a plan to get several radio manufacturers to produce a standard affordable radio to cover the medium wave band.

An example of a certificate of purchase of a wartime civilian receiver (not the actual one for either of these radios)

The initial design was undertaken by Dr G D Reynolds of Murphy Radio Ltd. They were made to a standard design (with very slight variations) by 44 manufacturers identified by the code marked on the chassis. The original cost of the set when first introduced in June 1944 was � 12 3s 4d including purchase Tax

I have two of these radios the first (U18 05472) was purchased as part of an auction lot in 2004. The second hadn't been switched on for many years, but had been fitted with a new mains lead and was working when received. The one marked U18 was made by Invicta Radio Ltd and the other marked U7 was made by Murphy Radio Ltd.

Invicta model

Murphy model

I cleaned up and polished the cabinet of the first one and treated the wood worm holes. The dial had been painted black thus obscuring the original markings below the curved indicator slot. When I tried removing the black paint some of the original cream paint came away as well so I scanned the dial plate (which is 4.375 inches by 3 inches) and printed out another on photo paper and glued it to the original dial plate see below:

full size dial markings here

Instructions on rear of the Invicta model


Label on top of cabinet (all models)

Much of the rubber insulation on the wiring of the Invicta radio had hardened and perished and was replaced by unsoldering one end squeezing it in pliers and sliding replacement sleeving over the original wire before soldering back into position. Some wires were replaced completely. Apart from replacing the "Westector" with a germanium diode, replacing the cathode bypass capacitor on the output stage and reforming the main electrolytics and repositioning them where they should have been no other repairs were needed to get the set working. The set is probably not as sensitive as it could be but as it appears to have the original valves (apart maybe of the output valve which is an EL33) I have not replaced any of them.

The second radio (U7 9102) had less perished rubber insulation and had at some time been fitted rather haphazardly with replacement electrolytic smoothing capacitors. These proved to be perfectly satisfactory so were soldered back in place in a more orderly manner, the cathode bypass capacitor proved to be very leaky and was replaced as was the capacitor across the loudspeaker transformer primary. The cabinet of this one was lightly sanded and given three coats of Danish Oil. As with the first model I replaced the speaker fabric which was in poor condition. The valves appeared to be original : BVA276, BVA245, BVA257 and BVA211.

What might one of these be worth? They seem to be quite sought after and a working model complete with back might fetch between �60 and � 100.