Vintage Part 1


Vintage Wireless manufacturing in Weymouth, England by John Rose, M0BQO

 (First published in the February 2003 edition of Catswhisker)

History: In the 1920s three local firms are known to have manufactured radios commercially, though on a small scale. The recent exciting discovery by Bill Young G4KUU of a Smith III in a local antique shop aroused lots of interest.

Marshall & Sons of Portland

The Portland Three was their offering; it was made in small batches at £16.  Harry, the elder son, was a skilled woodworker and made the cabinets at first; later with increasing demand they were made by Betts of Weymouth at 30/- a time.  Freddie Young of 1 St Alban Street, Weymouth, engraved the ebonite fascia panels.  The Youngs may have also made crystal sets.

The Portland Three - click on the picture to view a much larger image

Ernest Marshall started in business in Grove Road as a watchmaker but moved to Easton about 1923.  By 1929 he described himself in Kelly’s Directory as ‘electrical, mechanical & radio expert & watch repairer’. Younger son Frank, now a sprightly octogenarian, recalls as a small boy helping to wind the coils.

Two of these sets are known to have survived, plus an empty cabinet.

There was also a Portland II but nothing is known of this except an empty cabinet

W.Smith & Son

Established in 1900, probably in Royal Arcade, Smiths moved to Royal Terrace and by 1930 to 23 Crescent St.  There is no record of the company after 1936.

In 1929 they advertised themselves as “Makers of the “SMITH” MAJESTIC MUSICAL EQUIPMENT”.

On this evidence it is likely that the Smith III (or Weymouth III) set was their doing.  Moreover, this is the only Smith in the electrical trade in the ‘twenties.

The Smith III (Sloper) - click on the picture to view a much larger image 

The set was given a Post Office Registration number 2093 (the first digit of which suggests to me that there had been a previous 2-valver); it was cleverly designed, though too complex, and expensive at £40.  It had oscillation problems and poor amplification but otherwise worked well. 

The P.O. number was given to a set “with sloping panel”. This would have been around 1923.  Two of these are known to exist - one locally, the other in North of England. There was also an upright model (same registration) of which just one exists.

Smith & Clammer

Established about 1933 they called themselves Modern Radio Services with premises in Clinton Arcade (by Mothercare) but are not likely to have made the Smith III - though the name did emerge in a discussion I had with a long memory.

H.W.Smith (Harry Wilkinson Smith)

Now on the Granby Estate, this electrical  & radio business originated around 1938 at 70 Wardcliffe Road, later going to Abbotsbury Road.  It is not believed to be linked with the earlier Smith.


A well-known Weymouth department store occupying at least three premises, one of which was 8 & 9 Middle Bond Street, the base for their ‘registered electrical installation contractors and wireless engineers’ business. They were the manufacturers of the VHB III in 1926.  It had no GPO registration number; only one is known to have survived. By 1936 they had hived off this part of their enterprise to form Bennett and Escott Ltd. Later of New Street.

The VHB III - click on the picture for a larger image

If there are any long memories amongst our readership, several loose ends need tying up, such as technical and production details of all these sets. Have any other sets survived - or ancient components and parts?  What wireless shop was behind Alexandra Gardens?   Any help in any direction would be appreciated.

Acknowledgements: thanks for their help to Frank Marshall, G2XQ, Bill Young, G4KUU, and Ray Henville, G3TPH.

John Rose M0BQO - Weymouth , January 2003