The Radio Electric Company opened for business on 10th July 1922, as can be seen from the advert. The premises were on the eastern side of Worcester Street, in between Temple Street and Church Street.

The advert includes a reference to Mr. H. H. Speke, the chairman of Wolverhampton's first amateur radio society, the Wolverhampton and District Wireless Society. The society's first meeting took place on 1st March, 1922.

Mr Speke had a shop at 26 King Street, in which he sold models, toys and books, and later ex-army and navy surplus items.

The company's first shop at 33 and 34 Worcester Street.

As seen in 1961 when it was occupied by a  tobacconist.

Photo courtesy of John Hughes.

The Radio Electric Company was started by George Jones, the Secretary of the Wireless Society who had the call sign 2WB. He had previously worked for Mr. Speke in King Street. When he started the business he relinquished his secretarial duties due to pressure of work. Within six months the business had moved to a shop in St. John's Street. 

A map showing the location of the Radio Electric Company's shop in St. John's Street.
Mr. Jack Rushton was an amateur radio enthusiast with the call sign 5LK. Jack had a shop at 17 Victoria Street called 'Radio, Motors and Cycles Limited' (marked in orange on the map), where Halfords used to be. There was a link between Jack Rushton's business and the Radio Electric Company, because  Jack's name was included on the Radio Electric Company's letterheads. The two shops were also linked by a connecting yard at the back. 

A redirected envelope dated April 6th, 1923, found in the personal records of the late George Jones suggests that he may have left the business by that time.

At St. John's Street, Mr. Creed worked in the shop and George Berry, the son of amateur radio enthusiast, H. Berry, who had the call sign 6PB, was employed to build wireless sets. The cellars below the shop were used to charge accumulators, which in those days were an essential part of any valve receiver.

The St. John's Street shop was situated on the corner, where the street turned sharply to lead alongside the old Mander's works. Also on the staff were Mrs Creed and Mr. C. Fenwick. Mr. Creed later became manager of the 'Radio, Motors and Cycles' shop in Victoria Street, where receivers were constructed by Arthur Shaw, who was Mrs Creed's brother. He built quantities of a popular domestic crystal set which sold for seven shillings and sixpence.

An advert from 1924.

A photograph taken outside the St. John's Street shop with Jack Rushton and the staff in the background.

When the Wolverhampton and District Wireless Society ceased to exist, it was replaced by the Wolverhampton & District Transmitters' Society, members of which used to meet in the Radio, Motors and Cycles' shop and also in the Radio Electric Company's shop in St. John's Street.

During 1925 'Radio, Motors and Cycles Limited' had either joined forces with the Radio Electric Company or been taken over by it, as can be seen from the advert above.

By the middle of the year, the Victoria Street Shop traded as part of the Radio Electric Company, which also had premises at Church Street, Bilston. Presumably another shop.

A crystal set made by the Radio Electric Company in possibly 1923 or early 1924.
In the 1925 Wolverhampton Red Book, the Victoria Street premises is listed under the name of the Radio Electric Company, but both the 1927 and 1930 Red Books list it as Radio, Motors and Cycles Limited, so both names continued to be used. In 1930 the business closed, and the Victoria Street shop was taken over by Halfords. When this happened Arthur Shaw started his own radio business in Queen Street, and Mr. C. Fenwick opened his radio and components shop at the eastern end of Great Brickkiln Street (now Pitt Street), which many people will fondly remember. Next door he had another shop selling fishing tackle, toys, models, and guns.

An advert from 1925.


Jack Rushton.

A Radio Motors and Cycles  receiver from 1925.

An advert from 1925.

An advert from 1925.

An advert from 1925.

An advert from 1925 which shows the 2nd floor room above the Victoria Street shop where meetings of the Wolverhampton and District Transmitters Society were held.

An advert from 1926.

The advert on the left confirms that the Radio Electric Company produced valve receivers, rather than just crystal sets, which may have been identical to the receiver described in the Radio Motors and Cycles advert above. Maud Highfield worked in the Victoria Street shop and remembered Jack Rushton as an enterprising man and a very good business man.

She remembered a workshop at the back of the Victoria Street premises, and an open space, which came out into John's Street where Jack Rushton sold caravans. He also had a room above the Central Arcade at the lower end, where he employed two girls to make radio sets. In the cellar of the shop was a strong room and a place where coal was kept, and the area where batteries were charged. Two ladies came in to light the coal fires in the shop every day.

Burroughs adding machines and Gledhill tills were used in the shop which had beautiful display cases. Items for sale included Parlophone and Eddison Bell records, Cosmos, Philips, Ecko and K.B. radios, radio components, Ariel and Douglas motorcycles, and Rudge bicycles.

In the photograph opposite, the top two terminals are aerial and earth respectively and the bottom terminals are for headphones.

The two switches are for tuning. The one on the left is coarse tuning and the one on the right, fine tuning.

The plug and socket on the far left is for the plug-in Medium or Long Wave coil.

A Long Wave coil would have certainly been desirable after the opening of the BBC's Daventry transmitter in 1925.

Another view of the Radio Electric Company's crystal set.

Circuit diagram of the crystal set made by the Radio Electric Company.

The receiver is extremely simple. The tuned circuit consists of a plug-in coil in series with a much smaller tapped and switched inductance, which is used for tuning, along with the self capacitance of the coils. Coarse and fine tuning is possible by the positioning of the taps on the coil. The fine tuning switch increases or decreases the inductance in smaller steps than the coarse tuning switch.

The aerial is connected directly across the tuned circuit. Although this will effect the tuning and the selectivity of the receiver, it is of no great significance because the tuned circuit will already be heavily damped by the cat's whisker and headphones. Like the aerial, the cat's whisker and headphones in series are connected directly across the tuned circuit, which was normal practice in such a simple design.

This is clearly a simple and cheap receiver, aimed at the bottom end of the market. It's performance is poor, but it would have been affordable to almost anyone and so would have helped to bring radio to the masses, at a time when valve receivers were still very expensive. This may well be one of the crystal sets that were sold for just 7s.6d.

The inside of the receiver showing the crude form of construction. The coil is home-made and wound on a large cardboard tube.
An overall view of the receiver showing the oak case.
The licence plate that's mounted inside the cabinet lid. The low registration number suggests that it was made soon after the formation of the BBC in 1923.
A close-up view of the cats whisker. The handle on the right allows the cat's whisker to be adjusted to make contact with a suitable spot on the crystal.
Another view of the receiver, complete with plug-in Medium Wave coil.
A final view of the receiver, complete with plug-in coil. Although this is a bottom of the range receiver, it is still nicely finished.
Pieces of crystalline material for use in the receiver. The crystal is often a small piece of galena (lead sulphide), although other materials were used.

In the receiver the cat's whisker is enclosed in a glass tube to exclude dust. The crystals are quite soft and will soon wear as the point of cat's whisker is dragged across the surface, so replacements were essential.

J. V. Rushton

Jack Rushton was a man of many talents. He lived at 134 Mount Road, Penn, and became an accomplished pilot of light aircraft and trained glider pilots. He also experimented with magnetic wire recording, to record pictures and send them by radio and wire. He made improvements to storage batteries, including a failed attempt to produce a lead-aluminium battery, during which he developed his own method of anodising aluminium.

After the closure of the Radio Electric Company, Jack began producing 'Rushlite' dry batteries at Rushlite Batteries Limited in Temple Street, Wolverhampton, and sold many during World War 2 when batteries were in short supply. Battery production continued until about 1955. From 1956 onwards the business ceased to be listed in the Wolverhampton Red Book.

A 'Rushlite' battery.

Another view of the 'Rushlite' battery.

Jack continued to be actively involved in amateur radio. He became a honorary member of the Wolverhampton and District Transmitters' Society, and was society president from 1924 until 1934. 1946 saw the formation of the Wolverhampton Amateur Radio Society. Jack became society president in 1947, and remained in post until 1964.

By the 1930s Jack had become a proficient pilot, who greatly enjoyed gliding. He was involved in the formation of the Midland Gliding Club on the Long Mynd in Shropshire, and in 1930 was club  secretary. On 24th July, 1937 he won the Volk Cup for the longest duration flight during the previous twelve months. He received the cup for a flight of eight hours in a glider at the Midland Gliding Club. In the same year he competed in the National Soaring Meeting, flying a Grunau Baby II. In the Second World War he put his flying experience to good use, training glider pilots.

An advert from 1939.

Jack Rushton had a number of business interests. He ran J.V. Rushton Limited based at Anodic Works on the Birmingham New Road in Wolverhampton.

The firm specialised in electroplating, anodising, chrome plating, general metal finishing, and hardening, particularly for the aircraft industry.

The company was founded in 1936 and soon expanded and opened other factories:

1937 - J. V. Rushton (Birmingham) incorporated

1937 - J. V. Rushton (London) incorporated

1941 - J. V. Rushton (Coventry) incorporated

1941 - J. V. Rushton (Redditch) incorporated

Jack also owned the Coventry Chromium Plating Company.

The edition of Flight magazine published in April 1937 includes the following brief article:

J. V. RUSHTON (LONDON), LTD., was registered as a private company on March 10 with a nominal capital of £5,000 in £1 shares.

Objects : to construct and work plants for anodising, more particularly to Air Ministry specification, in association with J. V. Rushton (Wolverhampton). Ltd., and J. V. Rushton (Birmingham), Ltd. (when incorporated), and generally for the protection and colouring of aluminium and its alloys; to carry on business as anodisers, metal finishers, depositors and sprayers, etc.

The subscribers are John V. Rushton, 134, Mount Rd., Penn, Wolverhampton, anodic oxidation chemist; and Mrs. Florence Rushton.


From 'The Aeroplane', February 7th, 1941.

By 1946 the companies had been taken over by Midland Holdings, a holding company for what was possibly the largest group of electroplaters, anodisers, and metal finishing businesses in the country. It had plants in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Manchester, Newbury, Cardiff, and Scotland.

Jack Rushton was also a Rotarian. The following article written by him appeared in the April 1951 edition of The Rotarian:

What Freedom Would We Lose?

J. V. Rushton, Rotarian
Past Service
Wolverhampton, England

At one time people feared only the weapons in the hands of their opponents. Now progress has made modern weapons a danger to all. This year the world is spending considerably more than 10,000 million pounds on preparing for war; only a fraction of this amount would be necessary to support a world force to maintain world peace. What freedom would we lose if we surrendered our armed strength to such a world force? Individually we would probably find ourselves with much more freedom, freedom to travel and trade in any part of the world - a world without frontiers; and even more important we would be free from the fear of war.

I think that if America and England were to declare that they were willing to surrender their forces to a world government, other countries would rapidly follow suit, because I believe that the people of every country of the world are scared of war and that they know that behind all their bluff there is no other way of avoiding it.

Jack Rushton left the West Midlands and retired to  the Channel Islands.

An advert from 1944.

The information on the Radio Electric Company company was obtained from 'Wireless In Wolverhampton', published by the Wolverhampton Amateur Radio Society in 1972. If you have any further information about the company, or its products, please send me an email.

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