AMATEUR RADIO SHOPS / DEALERS / YARDS IN THE EDINBURGH AREA FROM THE 1960s

Recollections by Mike GM3PAK, Alan GM3PSP, George G(M)3XPQ and Brian GM8BJF)

Additional items and details will be gratefully received.

Photos below are by Alan GM3PSP unless otherwise attributed.

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Beveridge's Scrapyard, Dunfermline

Government surplus equipment from Rosyth Naval Dockyard.

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Brown's Wireless, 45 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EJ

Photo taken about 1987, possibly not long before it closed.

 

George Brown, GM3DHD - SK - proprietor. "David - Henry - David"

                           Mr. ? Brown (brother)- continued the business after George's death.

                           Roy Hughes, manager, later bought the business.

                           Roy was ex-RN and ran a Sea Cadet unit in the University Settlement

                              with help from Bill Hunter HM3HUN-SK and Alister Mitchell GM3UDL - SK. 

                           Radio & electronic components and equipment retailer where many,

                                        including your scribe, spent their pocket money!.

Browns in 1991, possibly after closure.

 

Browns Wireless closed in the late-1980s. The shop has been a Paper Rack newsagent since then..

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Bruntsfield Radio, 200 Bruntsfield Place (updated 6 Feb 2019)

Above is the Home Street branch of Bruntsfield Radio in 1968-70.

Your webmaster recalls first seeing colour television demonstrated in the window!

 

The shop at 200 Bruntsfield Place was located in the middle of this photo, to the right of the black vehicle.

This radio shop at 200 Bruntsfield Place was founded in about 1950 by Richard B. Hagart and John Copeland. In 1952 they entered into a partnership with André Boissiere, a bilingual London-born Frenchman who had serviced and maintained aircraft radios for RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires at Biggin Hill during the war. Your webmaster, who lived nearby and becoming interested in radio as a schoolboy, remembers taking valves to the shop to be tested on the Mullard High Speed Valve Tester which was located in the front shop. Customers who could operate the tester themselves could do so at a reduced charge! Other memories include ladies bringing in 2V accumulators to be re-charged overnight for 1/3d (7.5p). There was even a sign “Ici on parle francais” posted on the shop window! Below the shop was an extensive basement workshop, crammed full with pre-war, valve radios.

Mullard High-Speed Valve Tester, as used at Bruntsfield Radio

Photo credit - Mike Burgess MM0MLB / Museum of Communication.

André Boissiere’s expertise in radio frequency technology was applied to the new technology of television as well as radio. 1952 was an exciting time in broadcasting with the BBC being at the cutting edge of radio technology and the immense post-war effort directed at televising the Queen’s Coronation in June 1953. This generated a remarkable demand for “high definition 405-line” TV receivers which cost the equivalent of 1 year’s average salary for the standard 14-inch black and white TV – 65 Guineas! For 85 Guineas the very wealthy could order a 17-inch model but these were very rare. Such was the kudos of having a TV, Mr Boissiere recalled that he facilitated far more TV aerial installations than actual TV sets! Because to have either the “H” or later “X” shaped, large VHF TV aerial on your home’s chimney breast was the ultimate status symbol of the early 1950s – and much cheaper than having a TV. Author’s note: the local TV channel (3) for BBC TV was on 56MHz – in direct harmonic relationship with most of the Amateur bands! TVI became quite a problem, requiring the addition of a low-pass filter in the antenna feeder.

André Boissiere’s son, Philippe, “served” in the shop on Saturdays from the age of 10, and recalls that he was privileged to be “in” on these TV developments which eventually led to larger-screen TVs with 110-degree CRTs, the advent of Hi-Fi audio reproduction, reel-to-reel, audio tape recorders and colour TV. By 1964 the Home Street (Tollcross) shop was also an agency for Eddystone Communications Receivers and was seriously competing with Brown’s Wireless on George IV Bridge for diverse electrical components for which the University, in addition to countless radio amateurs, provided an almost insatiable demand.

By 1967 Bruntsfield Radio had expanded to 4 shops in Edinburgh, with a second and much larger double-shop in Tollcross at 186-188 Lauriston Place in 1955 which also sold records (78 rpm shellac discs) and a workshop on site because TVs were then much less reliable. The ability to repair the equipment was an important part of giving customers the confidence to buy these hugely expensive pieces of equipment.

Around 1959 they opened a third shop in Morningside Road in the section opposite the gardens and Hermitage Terrace. About 1958 the Lauriston Place premises became purely a workshop while a new, purely retail outlet was opened in Home Street and a new shop at 13 Dalry Road which took over the record business.  The Lauriston Place premises closed to make way for demolition and the workshop, stockroom and administrative offices moved to a former billiard table factory in West Newington Place.

André Boissiere retired from the business in 1974 and it is believed to have closed in the early 1980s.

Unfortunately, no photographs have been found of the other Bruntsfield Radio shops. Can anyone help?

Acknowledgement – many thanks to Dr. Philippe Boissiere for much of the above information.

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Clydesdale Radio, George IV Bridge

                                                                  Took over Maitland Radio

                                                        (Info via via George Black, G3XPQ)

Click for reference and then scroll down.

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J & JA Dunn, Metal Merchants, 15 Blair St, Edinburgh

                            Better known as 'Dunns of Blair St', this was where we went for aluminium sheet, which they

                            even cut to size, for the chassis' for our radio construction projects in the '60s and 70s.

                            It closed possibly in the early 80s.

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Brian Henniker, GM3FUU, Bonaly Road, Edinburgh

                           Radio & TV business

                           (Info via George Black, G3XPQ).

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Jane's Scrapyard, Leith

                          GM3PAK remembers buying VHF amplifiers with push-pull disc-seal triodes

                          and silver-plated tuned lines which could be tuned to 144MHz.

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Johanson’s Yard, 52-66 Salamander St, Leith, EH6 7LA.

                          Scrap yard with some surplus electronic equipment.

                          Ex-commercial equipment e.g. Pye and Marconi Marine.

                          Mentioned in SEPA Report on Best Practice Project on Waste Batteries.

                          This site is now occupied by Stephen G. Dalton, Scrap Metal Merchants.

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Maitland Radio 

                          See references in obituary of Dick Richardson GM3AKM.

                        Taken over by Clydesdale Radio.

                          Click for reference and then scroll down.
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Maplin Electronics, 118-126 Dalry Road, Edinburgh, EH11 2EZ

                Maplins were a modern store with knowledgeable and helpful staff for all electronic items from

                computer accessories and electronic toys all the way down to components. The company went

                bankrupt in March 2018 and all their stores nationwide were closed a few months later after a                              discounted sale.

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Marchbanks Scrap Yard, Hawick

                          Jimmy and Alfie Marchbanks  (Pronounced "Olfi Mairchbonks")!

                          (Alfie used to take 6-month "holidays" from time to time).

                          Scrap yard at Slitrig / Linwood on the outskirts of Hawick.

                          Also shop in O'Connell St, Hawick.

                          Govt.surplus radio & electronic equipment from RAF 14 Maintenance Unit, Carlisle.

 

2015 photo by Mike GM3PAK of the former Marchbanks scrapyard site near Hawick.

 Pass to permit Alan GM3PSP "to search for radio & electrical parts" in Marchbanks scrapyard, Hawick, Feb 1967. 

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-  Here's a nice story by David Grieve in Hawick Memories:  Text: 

 

    Did you know that "Marchbanks" ? Scrap Merchants, that was in O'Connel Street, Hawick, was indirectly responsible for over 50% of the old red GPO telephone boxes in Hawick not working, during the early summer of 1964?
    2nd year pupils, including myself, at Hawick High School had a class (Thanks, Dr Bella Thom!) where we were shown how to construct a wired simple one-way 'walkie-talkie' using a carbon microphone and earphone, connected directly to each other via a 25yds cable, with a 4.5v 'bell battery' added in the cabling to power the system.
Many of us found that the Scrap Merchant would sell us an ex-GPO phone earpiece, plus the 25yds light cable, for just 2/6d (12.5p)
    The problem was that he didn't have any ex-GPO phone microphones to complete the set.
    Are you getting ahead of me here ???
    At that time the handset in all GPO phone boxes allowed the carbon microphone part to be unscrewed easily by hand. Hmm !
    All I will say further is that many of my pals including myself, had fully completed 'walkie-talkie' sets to play with. I do remember that around June, 1964, the "Southern Reporter" ran a story with the subject "Scandal why half of Hawick's public Phone Boxes are Unusable".
    I think the "Statute of Limitations" may have expired by now, so I reckon it's safe to disclose this.

    Sorry, GPO ! There's more...... but that's another story!

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Miller's Wireless, 132 Leith Walk / later Brunswick Street/Elm Row.

Square photos courtesy of Rod Wallace, Kincardine on Forth

Click for article on EdinPhoto website. 

 

132 Leith Walk (demolished ~1971 to make way for St. James's Centre)

 


 132 Leith Walk

 

Comparison of location of Millers Wireless before and after replacement by the St. James's Centre.

 

Moved to corner of Brunswick Street and Elm Row in 1971; closed 1976.

 

Brunswick Street / Elm Row shop

 

                   Mr. John Calderwood Miller (R), described as a polymath ex-merchant navy radio officer,

                   outside his home near Musselburgh, with one of his assistants, also John Miller. 

                    Surplus electronic and telephone equipment, components and radio repairs.

                    Always quoted prices "plus tax" which was unusual at that time!

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Omni Electronics, 174 Dalkeith Rd, Edinburgh EH16 5DX


"Audio, Video & Computer Leads & Accessories;

Batteries, Cable, Connectors & Electronic Components".

Click for review. Founded in 1986 and believed to have closed about 2013.

Believed to have been run by Mr George Fyall, GM0NXO, now living in Kirkcaldy

Website: www.omni-electronics.co.uk (now closed)

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George ("Geordie") Power's Yard, Trafalgar St., Leith

                            Scrap yard - ex-govt equipment, from Rosyth Naval Dockyard.

                            Assistant Carl used to watch the customers!

                            George Power formerly worked for "Wingy" Robertson (see below).

                            Photo of George Power as a young man (2nd from right, front row)

                                - below, in Wingy Robertson section. 

                            George Power died in 1964, aged 48. 

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Thomas “Wingy” Robertson, Newhaven Road, Leith

                            Scrap yard

                            Nickname "Wingy" due to injured / bent left arm.

                            Surplus equipment and paint (battleship gray, from Rosyth Naval Dockyard)!

                            “Price depended on the number of valves in the item” – George Black.

                            One of the employees was George Power, who later set up his own yard.

                                              (see above).

                            Click for EdinPhotos article.


Wingy Robertson's employees in 1932, including the young George Power, 2nd from right in front. 

(Photo courtesy Norma Brodie, John Stewart and EdinPhoto.org.uk).

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G. Tuck, Eyre Place.

                          George “Fryer” Tuck, GM3BBW ("Big Bad Wolf" or "Beer is Better than Water").

                           Keen member of LRS in 1950s. See photo below.

                           Radio / television repair shop with some components.

                           Very good at directing customers to the Lothians Radio Society.

Fryer Tuck GM3BBW in centre, at NFD 1955 at Loanhead.

On right is Dick Richardson GM3AKM.

Practical Wireless Sept/Oct 1950, p. 410 carries the following piece about a series of lectures by GM3BBW:

In anticipation of the forthcoming TV service in this area a series of lectures will be given by GM3BBW, taking the members step by step through the construction and alignment of a TV set of efficient design and suitable for the home constructor. (In fact, the series is so arranged that construction can be under- taken by anyone who can use a few tools and read a diagram.) Yeh - right - psp!

 

Fryer was also a keen flyer. His Cessna 172R plane registration was G-BBWF.

                          (Registration later re-assigned to a different aircraft).

                          He was sadly killed in a test flight of an old plane. Date not known. 

                          Photo courtesy Talk Graphics - Flying Tonight.

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Unknown Dealer

                            Morrison St, opposite ABC Cinema (now Odeon), Lothian Road).

                            Small store of surplus equipment & components.

                            Open only on Saturday mornings 1950s-60s

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Asa Wass & Son Ltd, Rag, Skin & Metal Merchants, 161, 169 & 177 Fountainbridge


Asa Wass was located on Fountainbridge. After closure in the 1960s the site was taken over and rebuilt as the huge McEwan's brewery. That is now gone too, replaced by the new Boroughmuir High School in 2018.  

 

Practical Amateur Radio involves not only constructing equipment but also (at least in the good old days) dismantling ex-govt junk for the components. A modest income could be made from selling the scrap metal, especially aluminium, to a scrap dealer. Asa Wass used to pay the princely sum of 1s (5p now) per pound. 

Later photo (1969) of children playing at the gate of the former Asa Wass yard.

Photo courtesy TSPL / Edinburgh Evening News.

See also: EdinPhoto article

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Stephen Dalton, Scrap Metal Merchants, 23 Yeaman Place, EH11 1BT.

(and several other locations in Edinburgh and Leith).

Another scrap dealer who would buy aluminium scrap was Stephen Dalton, located beside the Union Canal in Yeaman Place. Still operating, they attracted attention from someone with a pot of light-blue paint!   

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Click for Edinburgh Radio History 2 - Wireless Colleges