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Brief Encounter of an EKCO Kind !!

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After many years of searching, I have finally added one of the superb round Ekco range of radios to my collection .. an AD36.
I've long considered these radios as a kind of Holy Grail. This is the story of how it all came about.
 
Apologies in advance to film buffs for my recreation of Brief Encounter with a bit of The Third Man thrown in for good measure !!  ..... JoolZ  March 2006.

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Below you can see a superb image kindly provided by Duncan Holley during January 2008.
 
"recently in Southampton England
workmen have exposed a wall with a lovely red and
 yellow EKCO advert 
painted on, which dates from the 1930s. It is about
 15 feet by 10 feet. "
 
Many thanks Duncan for letting me know about this important find... and also for taking the time to take photos. It's good to be able to share this image with other enthusiasts !! Jools
 

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Below a 1935 Leaflet produced by E.K.Cole promoting the new AD 36 model added to the impressive stable of Ekco receivers.
 
Image reproduced with thanks from  the superb 1991 book The Setmakers, by Keith Geddes and Gordon Bussey, an amazing definitive publication for all radio buffs !!!

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The price of the Ekco AD36 when released in 1935 was 8-8-0d for the walnut model and 8-18-6d for the black and chromium model. Using the comparable retail price index available for comparison in 2005, some seventy years later, the prices quoted then equate out to 388-52p for the walnut model and 412-80p for the black and chromium model !!!
These receivers were maybe not easily affordable to the average householder in 1935?

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It all started one cold wednesday evening as I stared in disbelief at my pc screen. Finally after holding my nerve to within 40 seconds, I had bid for and won an auction at an acceptable price for one of the fabled round Ekco range of radios, an AD36.
 
Within minutes I made contact with the seller who I shall codename RM or Romford Mike. After an exchange of emails, we included football banter to confuse the Bakelite Big Brother Police! we started to make arrangements for collection and payment.  I certainly did not want to entrust a 71 year old radio to the Royal Mail It's a Knockout Team in Training !! so I decided to make the round trip of some 400 miles to London Town for my Holy Grail.
 
Using the power of the Internet I managed to secure some budget train tickets for Mr Branson's excellent tilting train service to London. Very good value for money, reserved seats, good fast clean trains, very comfortable. Respect Mr Branson, you've got it right in my opinion!  After agreeing a suitable day for our " Brief Encounter " Romford Mike and myself continued to keep in contact using the cover of discussing QPR football teams of the 1970's, enough to convince people they had stumbled across anorakworld.com by mistake !!
 
I borrowed a small suitcase on wheels from my daughter, which after checking all measurements I concluded would be a suitable transporter for the Ekco. Cardboard packaging plus my son's foam tent ground sheet cut up ( oops!) provided the padding.  Two weeks later Holy Grail Day was upon us.  Romford Mike and myself kept in constant contact via mobile texting as we both travelled into London. The Virgin train pulled into Euston spot on time.
 
Rather than do our transaction on the actual station, we pre arranged to do the deed at a nearby hotel, well known to us both. I could just imagine what the Euston security camera's panning onto two dodgy looking geezers, clutching identical suitcases, might provoke !!  " Honest guvnor it's only a 1935 Bakelite Radio !!" as we were bundled into a meat wagon by the railway old bill !!
 
We kept up the football cover for recognition purposes, I wore a navy blue Arsenal bobhat coming off the train to enable Romford Mike to recognise me !  I had thought of carrying a bunch of wilting carnations ... but people may have got the wrong impression !!!  After our rendevous, Romford Mike and I strolled over to the Ibis Hotel which as expected provided to be an excellent choice for our transaction. This hotel has a comfortable bar area and as per usual full of guests and businessmen drinking away their expense accounts !!
 
Not to be outdone we settled for over two and a half hours, to chat to each other over a few draughts of Grolsch. Being a french run and owned hotel, the Gallic staff were naturally oblivious to the two strange men with cases sat in the bar area.  They were far more interested in rearranging endless bowls of pomme frites and the businessmen were half blotto by now !!  The Grail was transferred from Romford Mike's case to mine and a warm envelope containing the dosh which had been secreted on my body ( don't ask!), was passed to R.M.
 
We continued to chat and drink, agreeing to meet again next time I'm back in the capital. About an hour before my return train home, we made our farewells and Romford Mike melted into the London night. Finishing my beer I left the hotel a while later, safely clutching the Holy Grail and Mr Branson's train provided a comfortable and safe return journey. The Ekco had it's own seat next to me for the whole journey.  My son met me at the end of the journey with the car.
 
Amazingly I had travelled virtually the length of the country and back, included a three and a half hour break for beers, picked up the Ekco and was back home for 11.00pm. Nine hours well spent !! So nice to meet you Romford Mike !!
 
Brief Encounter of an Ekco Kind starred .....
 
Jools ( Trevor Howard )
 
Romford Mike ( Celia Johnson ) ... sorry Mike, you lost the toss !!!
 
Thanks due to The Ibis Hotel Euston for the use of their bar area ... and the cold Grolsch !!!
 
Final footnote ... I must make it clear that in no way throughout this production unlike the original film ........ did we snog ...That's me below on the right,  but your disguise was brilliant Mike !!!!!!!!!!

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The advert on the right from Wireless magazine June 1935 reproduced from Radio Heaven ....  proudly announces the AD36  as A New Masterpiece - In Price and Performance !!  An all Europe receiver, charted by station name to give 38 stations plus many others should be received.  Simplicity itself just one knob station by name tuning !! Moving Coil speaker and even available on easy terms, Initial payment of 14/6d and 12 monthly payments of the same amount, or approximately 3/6d per week !! Price 8 -8-0d cash ... 8 Guineas.

According to Trader Service Sheet 651,( kindly provided by my good friend Tony Thompson at Vintage Radio World ) The Ekco AD36 set is a 3- valve, plus rectifier, 2 band TRF receiver in a moulded cabinet made in two alternative finishes, walnut or black and chromium. It is designed to operate from AC or DC mains of 200-250 V, 50/100 c/s in the case of AC.
 
Release date, both models 1935, Original prices, Walnut 8-8-0d, Black and Chromium 8-18-6d. An aerial input " Backing off " to provide a zero input balance, neutralising some of the input signal in order to obtain a well graded control action, is fitted to the Ekco AD36. In laymans terms this prevents a poweful local transmitter swamping out the signal on this set. Medium and Long Wave bands. Variable capacitator.
Valves SP13, HL13, PEN3520, 1D5.
 
Size 360 x 370 x 190mm ( 14.6 x 7.5 inches )

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An interesting line of thought exists as to where Wells Coates possibly got his inspiration from for the ground breaking round Ekco sets? One theory exists that the design of Arnos Grove Tube Station on the London Northern Line, early 1930's may  possibly have contributed to his thinking ? seen here with views of the building from the outside and also an interior view ( thanks are due to the London Transport Museum for these images who have an excellent informative site available, a link available on my links page ).  This building features in the theory alongside another possible inspirational design of the period, Southgate Tube station also early 1930's ... both infact were actually designed by Charles Holden.

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Southgate Tube Station photos, black and white, above and below, outside view and the interior booking/ticket area, both photos date from the early 1930's.
Certainly an interesting theory, I can see where people are coming from with this line of thinking... so maybe or maybe not ??  ( Thanks are due to the Charles Holden Gallery archive for these images ).

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 Made by E.K.Cole of Southend on Sea, I believe five different models were evidently made from as early as 1934 and the final one being 1945/46. These classic sets in most cases were attributed design wise to the famous design gurus of the era, Wells Coates and Serge Chermayeff. These guys were at the cutting edge of the latest designs of the day and contributed to all manner of items. Ekco soon realised the potential and the wonderful round receivers were nurtured into existence by Coates and Chermayeff, who also are attributed to other designs in the Ekco stable so to speak.

Tesla Talisman 308U Bakelite Radio 1950's

IT'S BAKELITE YOU KNOW !!!! ( WWW.BAKELITEMAN.COM )

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