Revo was founded in 1907 by Frederick Harold Reeves, who lived at Bearnett House (now a care home) off Stourbridge Road, Wolverhampton. The business began as The Cable Accessories Company Limited, at Britannia Works, Groveland Road, Dudley Port. The site was alongside the Birmingham Canal and expanded to cover over sixty acres, that extended into the boroughs of Dudley and Rowley Regis.

Frederick Reeves went into partnership with Septimus Vaughan, whose father, Ernest Vaughan, founded VONO, the local manufacturer of mattresses and bedstead fittings. Revo soon became very successful and produced a vast range of products, most of which were designed in-house. Early products included lighting, radios, loudspeakers, cookers, switchgear, and fans. By the 1930s the firm became a household name and the firm's electric street lighting was widely introduced throughout the country.

The site of the factory in the late 1930s.

An advert from 1922.

In 1922 The Cable Accessories Company Limited had a capital £100,000.

The Company Directors were Ernest Vaughan, Chairman; Frederick Harold Reeves, Managing Director; Arnold Vaughan; Alfred Vaughan; and Albert E. Felton. There were 700 employees.

At that time the firm produced electric light fittings, electric irons, fires, fans, fuses and switches, bells, hot plates, kettles, sparking plugs, and enamelled reflectors.

An image of the factory from October, 1930.

In the 1920s, when broadcasting started in the UK, the company produced a range a radios. On Tuesday 14th November, 1922, the first BBC station 2LO started broadcasting in the Medium Waveband, from the roof of Selfridges store in Oxford Street, London. The next day 5IT started broadcasting in Birmingham, and 2ZY went on the air in Manchester. 2LO had an audience of about 18,000. Many early radios, particularly valve receivers were expensive and so for much of the population, were unaffordable. Revo produced a range of simple, cheap crystal sets that cost from a few shillings to a few pounds.

An extremely cheap Medium Wave receiver, the Revo 'Little Gem' that sold for just 5s.6d.

The Medium Wave 'Revophone' crystal set from 1923 that sold for £2.10s.0d. plus a 7s.6d. BBC royalty fee.

The circuit diagram of the receiver above.

The instructions for the receiver.

The instructions read as follows:

Fixing. Erect the aerial as shown above seeing that the down lead is a foot away from the building. A hole should be bored through the window frame to receive the window terminal. Use the flexible insulated wire to connect from the window terminal to terminal marked “A” on the receiver, and the insulated single wire should be used from terminal marked “E” to the nearest water pipe, an adjustable clip is provided for this purpose.

Using. The headphones should be connected to terminals marked “P” and both tuning switches placed in the central position. Now operate the adjusting knob on the crystal detector so that the spring bears gently on the crystal. If broadcasting is in progress a sound will be heard in the phones on turning the coarse tuning switch to the right or left, the final adjustment being made on the fine tuning switch; the best position for the switch arms can easily be found by trial. To obtain the best results a little practice is necessary in adjusting the detector spring.

Several headphones can be used if desired, but they should be of the same kind to give the best results. If any difficulty is experienced with this set, the manufacturers will give advice free of charge on request.

When The Light Programme (Radio 4) started broadcasting on 29th July 1945, on 1,500 metres, in the Long Wave band, Revo produced a dual band version of the 'Revophone' using a plug-in Long Wave coil.

A circuit diagram of the dual-band 'Revophone'.

Revo traffic lights in Princes Square, Wolverhampton, in the 1930s.

Revo illuminated warning signs, installed in Princes Square, Wolverhampton, in the 1930s.
Revo traffic lights were installed in many towns and cities throughout the UK in the late 1920s and 1930s, including:

Battersea, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bradford, Burnley, Burton-on-Trent, Canterbury, Carlisle, Coventry, Dover, Dundee, Edinburgh, Evesham, Exmouth, Fenny Stratford, Fulham, Great Yarmouth, Haslingden, Horwich, Ilford, Kenilworth, Lambeth, London, Lytham St Annes, Manchester, North Shields, Nuneaton, Paignton, Plymouth, Rutherglen, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Stratford-upon-Avon, Tipton, Totnes, Torquay, Teignmouth, Wakefield, Warwick, and Wolverhampton.

By October 1930 the firm had become the Revo Electric Company Limited, which became a public company in 1936.

The firm's electric cookers, which were very successful, were known as 'Monarch' cookers.

In 1932 the firm exhibited electric street lights, street light fittings, lamp standards, and a set of traffic lights, at the Blackpool exhibition, and in 1936 exhibited a range of sodium vapour and mercury vapour discharge lanterns at the Association of Public Lighting Engineers' annual conference at Folkestone.

Revo also exhibited at the association's conferences in 1938 and 1939 including silver mirrored, prismatic, and lenticular glass panels.

In 1937 Revo exhibited a range of products at the British Industries Fair at Birmingham. The display included Boiling Plates, Brackets and Fittings, Concrete Standards, Electric Cookers, Enamelled Signs, Fans, Fires, Guard Posts, Industrial Lighting Fittings,  Irons, Kettles, Street Lighting, Standards, Switchgear, Traffic Signs, Tubular and Panel Heaters, and Wash Boilers.

During the Second World War the company received many government contracts for war work. Vast quantities of munitions were produced including five million 2 inch mortar bombs, three million grenades, two million incendiary and smoke bombs, a large number of 4½ inch, 60lbs, stream line shells, high explosive aero bombs of 500lbs, and 1,000lbs, and many pieces of electrical equipment and electrical fittings. The munitions contracts were worth several million pounds.

In 1943 many thousands of plain bearings for the Meteor engine and air-coolers for Lancaster bombers were produced. Revo also supplied aircraft landing lights for aerodromes, gas-tight fittings, and took a large part in the development of fluorescent lighting. Many Revo products were also used in the ships and dockyards of the Royal Navy and cookers were produced for the government’s emergency housing scheme.

An advert from 1948.

An advert from the 1950s.

An advert from October, 1930.

A view of the factory from the 1920s.

The Main Machine Bay.

The Fittings Assembly Department.
Revo became one of the largest local employers, with a staff of over 3,000 by the late 1950s. The many departments included ferrous and non-ferrous foundries, a ceramics department, a concrete department, a press shop, machine shops, assembly shops, a vitreous enamelling department, a woodwork department, a cooker department, a lighting department, a wire-working department, a switchgear department, and an electric fire department. There were first class working conditions in the factory with excellent medical and welfare facilities at hand.

Revo had a large sports ground alongside New Birmingham Road, the entrance being in Walford Street. There was a pavilion, tennis courts, a bowling green and a football ground, which was illuminated by Revo floodlights that were installed in the early 1950s. The sports facilities were very popular and well used by the staff. Revo also had a successful brass band.

Development work continued during the Second World War that led to the development of lighting using low pressure sodium and gas filled tungsten lamps, that were displayed at the 1945 conference of the Association of Public Lighting Engineers, and in 1946 a patent was taken out for improvements in double pole electric switch mechanisms.

A later view of the factory.

View some Revo switchgear   View more Revo products
In 1956 Revo was taken over by Duport and formed one third of Duport's holdings. The other two thirds were VONO and Duport Foundries Limited. At the time, Revo was one of the three main UK manufacturers of street lights, the other two being GEC and AEI.

In 1967 Duport sold the goodwill, patents, and trademarks of Revo to English Electric. The street lighting division was sold to Tubes Limited, who sold and developed the range under the 'Relite' name.

This was a sad end to such an important local company, who had also been a significant local employer.

Bearnett House, Frederick Harold Reeves' home.

The grave of Frederick Harold Reeves and his second wife Ida, in St. Bart's Graveyard, Penn, Wolverhampton. Ida, Maureen, died on 19th February, 1952 at the age of 58 and Frederick died on 15th March, 1953 at the age of 75.

The grave of Frederick Harold Reeves' first wife Lillian, and daughter Freda in St. Bart's Graveyard, Penn, Wolverhampton. Lillian, Getrude, died on 22nd January, 1919 at the age of 36. Freda died on 21st November, 1955 at the age of 49.

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