Notable Events - 1936

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Artists Impression of the Byron 1935

The Architect, Alfred J Thraves, vision of the Byron - this picture even shows his signature on the finished product!

Alice Faye in 1936

Image of Alice Faye greeting us and wishing us a Happy New Year as 1936 dawns - courtesy and © of 20th Century Fox

Notable Events 1936 - Headlines

Edward VIII succeeds British king George V.

Fred Perry Champion of the All-England Club (Wimbledon Tennis)

Adolf Hitler opens 11th Olympic Games in Berlin.

The world's first regular high definition service began transmitting to the 100 or so TV sets available in Britain.

Noel Coward's "Astonished Heart" premieres in London.

The Hoover Dam is completed.

"Peter & Wolf" premieres in Moscow.

Amy Johnson arrives in Croydon from S Africa in record 4d 16h.

Jesse Owens of US sets 100 meter record at 10.2.

A major breach of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal in England sends millions of gallons of water cascading 200 feet into the River Irwell.

Spanish Civil War begins, Gen Francisco Franco led uprising.

1st transatlantic round-trip air flight.

Pacifist/anti fascist writer Carl Von Ossietzky sent to concentration camp, awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

Edward VIII signs Instrument of Abdication, giving up British throne to marry Wallis Simpson.

Edward VIII announces in a radio broadcast that he is abdicating the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson.

"Green Hornet" radio show is 1st heard on WXYZ Radio in Detroit.

1st radioactive substance produced synthetically (radium E).

Felix the Cat, Cartoon Character, by Van Beuren from Otto Messmer.

The world's first superhero, The Phantom, makes his first appearance in comics.

1st flight of airship Hindenburg, Germany.

“Mr Deeds Goes to Town” Longfellow Deeds, a simple-hearted Vermont tuba player, inherits a fortune and has to contend with opportunist city slickers.

“Flash Gordon” Three earthlings visit the planet Mongo to thwart the evil schemes of Emperor Ming the Merciless.

“The Great Ziegfeld” This biography follows the ups and downs of Florenz Ziegfeld, famed producer of extravagant stage revues.

Rodgers & Hart's musical "On Your Toes," premieres in NYC.

International Surrealist Exhibition opens in London.

Empire State Building emanates high definition TV-343 lines.

The Jarrow March sets off for London.

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra forms.

5th March, 1936 - Spitfire Maiden Flight

The Spitfire - the iconic fighter plane of the Battle of Britain - takes to the skies

1936 inaugural flight of the Spitfire

A Spitfire Mk1 fighter made by Messrs. Vickers, on show to the public for the first time over Eastleigh Aerodrome, Southampton - image courtesy of

The high-speed fighter plane that was to capture the public's imagination - and put fear into the hearts of German pilots - made its maiden flight at a Hampshire airfield.

'The Supermarine Spitfire - the British fighter aircraft that became the iconic plane of the Battle of Britain - made its first flight on this day in 1936. On the night of March 5, Captain Joseph 'Mutt' Summers - chief test pilot at Supermarine's parent company Vickers-Armstrongs - took off in the Type 300 K5054 prototype from Eastleigh airfield in Hampshire. At the end of the eight-minute flight, Summers climbed out of the cockpit and said to the small group of observers "I don't want anything touched", indicating that nothing required correcting before his next test flight.'

27th May, 1936 - RMS Queen Mary

As the RMS Queen Mary celebrates her 80th anniversary it seems right to give her pole position on this page - for a spectacularly in-depth report visit the Daily Mail article here

Queen Mary Promotional material

Promotional material courtesy of

The RMS Queen Mary, a luxurious ocean liner that carried the world’s rich and famous before the dawn of the jet age, is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its maiden voyage. One of the greatest passenger ships ever built, the 1,020ft Queen Mary left Southampton on 27 May 1936 en route to New York, the first of many transatlantic crossings that attracted the likes of Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, TS Eliot, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope and many other glamorous guests.

First Class Dining Area Queen Mary showing mural by MacDonald Gill

The first class dining room was multiple storeys with large columns and an innovative celestial-style mural by MacDonald Gill brother of the Midland Hotel's Eric!

MacDonald Gill and two assistants working on the map

Macdonald Gill with two assistants working on 'Decorative Map of the Atlantic' for RMS Queen Mary by Howard Coster half-plate film negative, 1936 - Image and narrative courtesy and © of the National Portrait Gallery

Celestial Map by MacDonald Gill

A fascinating decorative map, 24ft. by 15ft. occupies a similar position at the forward boundary of the apartment. The work of Mr. MacDonald Gill, F.R.I.B.A., this map represents the North Atlantic Ocean, and the artist has treated the subject in a bold formalistic style, with the composite groups of typical buildings of England and America at the sides, a large illuminated chart being the main feature. Further interest is added by the introduction of a clock and the vessel’s summer and winter courses; while an illuminated model in crystal indicates the position of the ship on the voyage between Bishop’s Rock and the Nantucket lightships.

Crowd admiring the Queen Mary in Glasgow 1936

A crowd admires the Cunard-White Star Line passenger ship the RMS Queen Mary at Clydebank, near Glasgow, in Scotland in 1936

The Art Deco Bar on the Queen Mary

The Bar on the Queen Mary

Dining Cabin Class

Cabin class passengers had a number of elegant dining options, including the veranda grill where they were entertained by a pianist

First Class accommodation suite

The interior of a luxurious cabin class bedroom, reserved for the wealthiest travellers, as pictured on a postcard from the 1930s

The Queen Mary Swimming Pool

5th March 1936: A view of the swimming pool on board the transatlantic passenger liner SS Queen Mary, which is nearing completion at the shipyard on Clydebank, Scotland. Measuring 1,020 feet in length, with a gross tonnage of 81,237, the Queen Mary won the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic in 1938. She was withdrawn from service in 1967, and is currently moored at Long Beach, California. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Queen Mary arriving in NY

The Queen Mary sailed between New York and Southampton until it was taken out of service in 1967 due to financial losses

Jesse and Ruth Owensaboard the Queen Mary Wallis and Edward aboard the Queen Mary

Frequent 'Flyers' l to r - Olympic track champion Jesse Owens, who won four golds at the Berlin Games in 1936, and his wife, Ruth, are welcomed in New York / The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were among the members of the royal family who either toured or sailed on board the Queen Mary

All images of and relating to the Queen Mary in this section (except where otherwise stated) are courtesy and © of Getty Images and the Bellman Archive (under renovation by USITT)

The Art Deco liner was the largest and fastest passenger ship in the world when it launched, and had three classes of cabins, an opulent first class dining room, ballroom, cocktail bars, a stage for music, two indoor swimming pools, a squash court, libraries, a telephone connection and a small hospital. It was the flagship of Liverpool-based Cunard-White Star Line when it left John Brown & Company’s shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland after six years of construction.

The historic Queen Mary transported Allied soldiers during World War Two and returned to passenger service until it was retired in 1967 as profits dropped and the jet age took off. Today, the historic ship is permanently moored in Long Beach, California, where it has been preserved as a tourist attraction with a museum, hotel, restaurants and an exhibition containing some of Princess Diana's belongings. 

THe Queen Mary offered a 'souvenir' launch book which detailed artists work and provided comprehensive pictures of the ship and its accommodation - for an interesting tour visit here.

6th July, 1936 - Agatha Christie publishes 'Murder in Mesopotamia'

1st Edition Murder in Mesopotamia

Crime Club 1st edition

25th-28th July, 1936 - GB wins the Davis Cup

Official Programme

The Davis Cup programme of 1936 © Getty Images

Winning Scores

Training in 1936

The team of Austin, Perry, Hughes, Tuckey and Dan Maskell running at Beachy Head in Eastbourne, 14 July 1936 image courtesy of LTA and © of Getty images

The Davis Cup trophy was originally a silver punchbowl, to which plinths have been added over time to include the winners' plaques. The trophy was donated by US tennis player Dwight Davis. He founded the competition in 1900 and it's named after him.

The current format of the competition is the same as in 1936. A best-of-five with two singles matches, a doubles, followed by reverse singles. But it was played over Saturday, Monday and Tuesday rather than Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In 1936, Britain won the first two matches but lost the third (doubles) and fourth, taking it to a fifth round decider. It was down to Fred Perry to win Britain the trophy 3-2 by beating Jack Crawford in straight sets. Perry is famously the last British man before Murray to win Wimbledon (coincidentally also in 1936).

Handshake at the net

1936: Britain won the opening match - Bunny Austin beat Jack Crawford in four sets

Davis Cup Doubles

1936: Britain's Raymond Tuckey and Pat Hughes in their doubles match (they lost)

Fred Perry winning 1936 Davis Cup

1936: Britain's Fred Perry playing against Jack Crawford in the decider

Davis Cup Team

1936: Britain's winning team (l to r Bunny Austin, Fred Perry, Raymond Tuckey and Pat Hughes - they beat Australia 3-2) with the Davis Cup trophy - images © and courtesy of Getty Images via the BBC

2nd November, 1936 - BBC Television begins Broadcasting (80th Anniversary)

Muswell Hill, London - 2nd of November 1936

Transmission Tower at Alexandra Palace

It was a momentous time: the rise of Nazi Germany reflected in Mosley’s rally in Mile End Road; the economic depression symbolised in the Jarrow arch which began the following day; and a month after those events, something that could seem of lesser consequence, but which proved more enduring than either: the launch of BBC TV.
At the time it is thought only 500 television sets had been sold in Britain to a target market limited by the expected range of the transmissions, a 25-mile radius centred on Alexandra Palace where the studios and the transmitter were found. Sometimes it feels as if the BBC never got the memo about that viewership having changed.
The razzmatazz seen with modern station-launches was not the thing at the BBC of the 1930s: instead certain senior figures in the organisation gathered in a dully decorated studio and made speeches heralding the new service.
This was the first high image-resolution service of the time, or rather the first two such services given that it had not yet been decided whether to go with the Baird 240-line, or Marconi 405-line technology. The latter, technically superior system soon triumphed, but the honour of inaugurating the BBC Television service proper went to the Baird version, decided by the toss of a coin. The Marconi EMI one followed it after a short intermission to shift studios, with the same suits making the same speeches, thus establishing BBC TV’s love of repeats on its very first day. Source : informationBritain

On the 75th Anniversary (2011) the BBC wrote:

On 2 November 1936, the BBC launched the first ever high definition TV service in the world, from Alexandra Palace. One of the first broadcasts featured the musical theatre and film actress, Adele Dixon, who performed the very first rendition of the specially commissioned ‘Magic Rays of Light’, as seen in the video clip above. By the late 1950s Alexandra Palace had become the BBC’s main production centre for television broadcasts, producing ground-breaking programmes such as ‘Picture Page’ (the first audience interaction TV programme), ‘The Grove Family’ (the nation’s first soap), children’s favourite Muffin the Mule, significant historical events such as the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, and becoming the home for TV News and the Open University.

First regular hi-definition television service 2nd November 1936

At 3pm on 2 November 1936 the BBC began the world's first regular hi-definition television service, from specially constructed studios at Alexandra Palace in North London. As part of this, two different technical systems were being tested on alternate weeks for six months: John Logie Baird's mechanical system producing pictures of 240 lines, and the EMI-Marconi electronic system, which produced images of 405 lines. On the toss of a coin, Baird's system inaugurated the service, followed by EMI-Marconi's. The latter was to prove the winning system.

The formal opening ceremony was followed by a Movietone newsreel and then a variety show, featuring Adele Dixon and the BBC Television Orchestra. A short documentary, Television Comes to London, revealed the preparations leading up to the launch. In all, the service was on the air for two hours on its first day.

BBC Director General John Reith did not like the new medium, and in later life said he never watched television. However, he was in a minority as television became the dominant medium of the twentieth century. The term hi-definition as used in 1936 was defined as a minimum of 240 lines, and was applied in contrast to Baird's earlier system which used only 30. Today, standard definition at 625 lines is being replaced by digital hi-definition, which offers picture resolution of 1080 lines.

The full programme on the first day of transmission - source BBC

1936 Radio Times Cover

The cover of the Radio Times for the week when broadcasting was scheduled to start

Radio Times Open at Launch page

The first day

Launch extract Radio Times 1936

Detail of the first ever day of television broadcasting - all images courtesy and © of the BBC


15.00 : Opening of the BBC Television Service

by Major the Right Hon. G.C. Tryon, M.P., H.M. Postmaster-General.
Mr. R.C. Norman (Chairman of the BBC) and the Right Hon. the Lord Selsdon, K.B.E. (Chairman of the Television Advisory Committee) will also speak.


Speaker: the Right Hon. G.C. Tryon, M.P.
Speaker: H.M. Postmaster-General Mr. R.C. Norman
Speaker: The Right Hon. the Lord Selsdon, K.B.E.

15.15 : Interval

Time, Weather

15.20 : British Movietone News

Female Presenter at the BBC

The caption to this image is 'Matt Cooke, chair of Alexandra Park And Palace Trust said the first broadcast in 1936 "not only paved the way for a new kind of social entertainment, but it also prompted technological advancements in the way we communicate with each other which still impact on us today"' - there is no acknowledgement or identity attributed to the anonymous, but very elegant, female presenter.

15.30 : Variety

Adèle Dixon - Musical Comedy Star
Buck and Bubbles - Comedians and Dancers
The Lai Founs - Chinese Jugglers
The BBC Television Orchestra - Leader, Boris Pecker; Conductor, Hyam Greenbaum
Adèle Dixon is now playing lead opposite Laddie Cliff in the West End musical comedy "Over She Goes". Amongst recent radio shows she has played in are "Lots of Love" and "Cottage Loaf". Buck and Bubbles are a coloured pair who are now playing in "Transatlantic Rhythm". They are versatile comedians who dance, play the piano, sing, and cross-chat. An Oriental juggling act, the Lai Founs consist of four men and two women who specialise in plate-spinning.


Musical Comedy Star: Adèle Dixon
Comedians/Dancers: Buck and Bubbles
Jugglers: The Lai Founs
Musicians: The BBC Television Orchestra
Leader: Boris Pecker
Conductor: Hyam Greenbaum
Producer: Dallas Bower

16.00 : Close

At the close of this afternoon's programme a chart arranged in co-operation with the Air Ministry will forecast the weather

21.00 : Programme Summary

21.05 : Television Comes to London

A BBC Film
In this film, specially taken for the BBC, viewers are given an idea of the growth of the television installation at Alexandra Palace and an insight into production routine. There will be many shots behind the scenes. One sequence, for instance, will show Adele Dixon as she appears to viewers in the Variety at 3.30 this afternoon, and will then reveal the technical staff and equipment in the studio that made this transmission possible.


Singer: Adele Dixon

Adele Dixon

Adele Dixon sang a song about the "mystic rays" of television - Image courtesy and © of the BBC

Picture Page

A Magazine of Topical and General Interest.
This is the first of a series in which people of interest will be introduced. In the recent test transmissions, Squadron-Leader Swain, who broke the aeroplane altitude record, was one of the subjects. In every way the technique is novel. For instance, Joan Miller, who links the show introduces each person by plugging in a telephone switchboard after a few preliminary words of description. She is a young Canadian actress who was recently leading lady at the Clemenceau play "The Tiger", and last December she played in the radio version of "On the Spot". Curiously enough, when she was in Vancouver she used to train telephone operators.


Devised and edited by: Cecil Madden
Produced by: G. More O'Ferrall
The Switchboard Girl: Joan Miller

British Movietone News

22.00 : Close

Read 'The Story of BBC Television - Television as we know it' here
Read how the BBC plan to recreate this first night of broadcasting in The Telegraph
Read about me at the BBC here

21st November, 1936 - BBC televises first ever Gardening Programme

Mr Middleton pioneer of gardening programmes on radio and television

'Good afternoon. Well, it's not much of a day for gardening, is it?' - Mr. Middleton' famous catchphrase - image and dialogue © and courtesy of the BBC

During the Second World War Middleton was happy to lend his support to the government Dig for Victory campaign, encouraging listeners to grow vegetables on every spare piece of land. Mr Middleton was also the obvious choice when In Your Garden was tried out on the early television service in 1936.

From Parks & Gardens UK - 'Mr Middleton’s  success on radio put him a good position when television broadcasting began and on  21 November 1936 he presented in the first gardening program. Sadly there are no surviving recordings since the recording tape was expensive and so continually reused.'

Radio Times HeaderMr Middletons TV programme

The 4th of June 1937 Radio Times edition extract featuring Mr. Middleton's new venture in the grounds of Alexandra Palace

23rd November, 1936 - 'Life' Magazine is launched

Life Magazine 1st issue 1936

Luce set the tone of the magazine with Margaret Bourke-White’s stunning cover photograph of the Fort Peck Dam, which has since become an icon of the 1930s - image courtesy and © of Life Magazine

On November 23, 1936, the first issue of the pictorial magazine Life is published, featuring a cover photo of the Fort Peck Dam by Margaret Bourke-White.

Life actually had its start earlier in the 20th century as a different kind of magazine: a weekly humor publication, not unlike today’s The New Yorker in its use of tart cartoons, humorous pieces and cultural reporting. When the original Life folded during the Great Depression, the influential American publisher Henry Luce bought the name and re-launched the magazine as a picture-based periodical on this day in 1936. By this time, Luce had already enjoyed great success as the publisher of Time, a weekly news magazine.

From his high school days, Luce was a newsman, serving with his friend Briton Hadden as managing editors of their school newspaper. This partnership continued through their college years at Yale University, where they acted as chairmen and managing editors of the Yale Daily News, as well as after college, when Luce joined Hadden at The Baltimore News in 1921. It was during this time that Luce and Hadden came up with the idea for Time. When it launched in 1923, it was with the intention of delivering the world’s news through the eyes of the people who made it.

Whereas the original mission of Time was to tell the news, the mission of Life was to show it. In the words of Luce himself, the magazine was meant to provide a way for the American people “to see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events … to see things thousands of miles away… to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed… to see, and to show…” Luce set the tone of the magazine with Margaret Bourke-White’s stunning cover photograph of the Fort Peck Dam, which has since become an icon of the 1930s and the great public works completed under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Life was an overwhelming success in its first year of publication. Almost overnight, it changed the way people looked at the world by changing the way people could look at the world. Its flourish of images painted vivid pictures in the public mind, capturing the personal and the public, and putting it on display for the world to take in. At its peak, Life had a circulation of over 8 million and it exerted considerable influence on American life in the beginning and middle of the 20th century.

With picture-heavy content as the driving force behind its popularity,the magazine suffered as television became society’s predominant means of communication. Life ceased running as a weekly publication in 1972, when it began losing audience and advertising dollars to television. In 2004, however, it resumed weekly publication as a supplement to U.S. newspapers. At its re-launch, its combined circulation was once again in the millions. - Source

30th November, 1936 - Fire guts Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

The giant Crystal Palace (built 1851) centre before it was destroyed in a fire in 1936.

Crystal Palace gutted

The original Palace stretched from what is now the bus station to the TV mast - The burnt out shell of a building which was left after the blaze in 1936. Nearly 80 years after it was destroyed, work may begin on a replacement in winter 2015 - both images courtesy of the Associated Press via the Daily Mail

Disaster Strikes - source Crystal Palace Foundation

In 1914 a charitable trust under the control of the Ministry of Education was formed and the trustees hired Henry James Buckland (lately Manager of Harrogate Spa) as the Manager of the Crystal Palace. He was a firm but fair man who had a great love for the Crystal Palace - so much so that he even named one of his daughters Chrystal. Because of the War he was not able to take up his duties until the Navy had moved out. When Henry took over it was evident that the deterioration suffered by the building up to 1913 had worsened further still during the First World War through being used as a Royal Naval Shore Station - HMS Victory. Over 125,000 men and women serving in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), Royal Naval Division (RND), Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) and Women's Royal Naval service (WRNS) were trained there for war service.

Shortly after the War John Logie Baird opened workshops, a television studio and tube manufacturing plant in various parts of the Palace and grounds. Henry and his staff performed miracles on the building and Park, repairing, cleaning, improving and the Palace was even starting to show a slight profit. But on Monday 30th November 1936 something happened to change the now Sir Henry's life and that of the whole area for ever.

At about 7pm he and Chrystal left their house ('Rockhills') on the northern corner of Crystal Palace Parade, to walk their dog. He walked towards the Crystal Palace and noticed a red glow in the building. He ran inside to see two night-watchmen attempting to extinguish a small fire in the office area in the centre transept. It soon became obvious that the situation was very serious. The first fire brigade call was received by Penge fire station at 7:59pm, the first fire engine arriving at 8:03. By the morning of Tuesday 1st December the building was no more. There had been 88 fire engines, 438 officers men from 4 fire brigades and 749 police officers on duty that historic night. The cause was never truly established and stories of arson abounded but because of the size of the building and the huge amounts of flammable material it contained, the cause was probably just a terrible accident. Shortly after the fire there was held a pre-booked engagement that opened a new chapter in the life of Crystal Palace - work started on constructing a tarmac motor-racing track. Following the fire, work started on removing the ironwork and by 1937 most of it had been removed by W. Ward & Co. Ltd, scrap merchants.

8th December, 1936 - Barbara Hulanicki Born

Founder of the Iconic 'Biba' franchise - Barbara Hulanicki, OBE born on 8th December, 1936

BH wearing the OBE

The Ford Flathead V8 three-wheeler

Ford Flathead v8

As showcased by J.H. McCrory of the Los Angeles Times and used by the Arrowhead Spring Water Company which is still going strong today.

2016 - 1936 Camper Van

A wonderful story has emerged about a Camper Van that was built in 1936 and has been fully restored following the death of the owner and his wife - I have prepared a condensed version with pictures but you can read the full story here:

A relic from the golden age of British holidays: Britain's first motorhome goes on sale for £40,000 (complete with empty grapefruit tins and Oxo cubes from the 1930s). The 'Pontiac Six' was shipped over from the US by Captain Dunn, from Bexhill-on-Sea, in 1935 for conversion. He asked coach builders to build a home in the back, which features kitchen with oven, sofa and dining room and has remained untouched since 40s but is perfectly preserved and still contains the maps he used to plan trips. Total mileage was only 10,000 miles and still drives well as the engine was turned over every few months by Mrs Dunn.

Original 1936 CamperVan

Off the road: The van is said to have been placed in a barn in the 1940s, raised on blocks with the spark plugs removed and oil tipped into the cylinder bores

Camper Hood Ornament

Crafted: Those who see it are always impressed with the craftmanship of the motorhome, which people fawn over whenever it is taken to shows. Pictured is the badge on its front

Front cab housing wheelchairCamper interior living space

l to r - Modern living: The sophistication of the amenities on the inside is staggering. Food and drink preparation is carried out from the humble kitchen, where there is a gas oven (pictured, right), stove and two-litre water filter / Time capsule: Empty tins of grapefruit and oxo cubes (pictured) from the 1930s can be found inside the cupboards and a box of 'Borwick's' baking powder is perched on top of the oven

Camper interior food cupboard Camper interior kitchen / living space

l to r - Perfectly preserved: The 80-year-old vehicle stands as a time-capsule in the 21st century, with original cutlery and crockery while brands from pre-war Britain are dotted around / Driving innovation: The unique vehicle was created by naval aristocrat Captain Dunn, from Bexhill-on-Sea, who shipped a Pontiac Six chassis over from America in 1935 and tasked local coach builders to built a home on the back

Speedometer in Campervan

Like new: The motorhome has done less than 10,000 miles (pictured on the dial, left) since it was made 80 years ago

Restored Campervan

Classic : An 80-year-old motorhome believed to be the first ever built in Britain is expected to fetch £40,000 when it goes up for auction

All images of the Pontiac Six are courtesy and © of Bonhams/BNPS

An 80-year-old motorhome believed to be the first ever built in Britain is expected to fetch £40,000 when it goes up for auction. The unique vehicle was created by naval aristocrat Captain Dunn, from Bexhill-on-Sea, who shipped a Pontiac Six chassis over from America in 1935 and tasked local coach builders to build a home on the back. He then set off into the British countryside behind the wheel but it has remained untouched since Dunn died in the 1940s.

The sophistication of the amenities on the inside is staggering considering it was constructed 80 years ago, boasting the same facilities as a 21st century campervan. Food and drink preparation is carried out from the humble kitchen, where there is a gas oven, stove and two-litre water filter. Sleeping quarters are located at the rear, where the sofa pulls out in to a double bed. There is even a lavatory and the interior is clad with elegant mahogany wood.

The 80-year-old vehicle stands as a time-capsule in the 21st century, with original cutlery and crockery while brands from pre-war Britain are dotted around. Empty tins of grapefruit and oxo cubes from the 1930s can be found inside the cupboards and a box of 'Borwick's' baking powder is perched on top of the oven.

The renovation was carried out by Russell's Coachworks of Bexhill, who were more accustomed to constructing horse drawn fire engines.The blend of American and English styles is clear to see when looking at the finished product, the front end adopting Art Deco, while the rear exemplifies old English. The four-litre motor, which tops out at 50mph, has done under 10,000 miles. Capt Dunn initially made good use of the motorhome and his travels through southern England in the late 1930s are documented in four photo albums that come with the purchase. The travel guides he is thought to have used to plan his journeys are also contained within a drawer in the living area.

Philco Radios Factory opens in Perivale 1935/6

Pbilco Radios UK

Architects sketch for the new Philco building which started being built in 1935

Company History

Philco’s roots date back to 1892 when the Heilos Electric Company was founded in Philadelphia.  Its primary product then was the storage battery, and in 1906 the company changed its name to the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company and adopted the abbreviated name Philco.  Its history as an exporter goes back as far back as 1916 when it began exporting Philco batteries to Great Britain and Latin America under the Philco trademark.

Several significant dates and events marked Philco’s place in the appliance industry.  Here are some of them:

1920’s and 1930’s:
Business expanded so rapidly that subsidiaries were established and production licenses issued around the world.  Argentina, Canada and Great Britain became productive extensions of the Philco name.  Philco became famous for that period included the first hermetically sealed room air conditioner and the use of foam in refrigerator insulation. Source : Philco International

Philco in 2014

Still standing in 2015

Philco Radio Factory Assembly Line

The photo caption read: “Putting the finishing touches to a batch of the new Philco 'People's Radio' in the Philco factory at Perivale in Middlesex.” Women workers at Perivale Philco radio factory, Middlesex, 20 April 1936.

Workers at Perivale Philco radio factory, London, 31 August 1936. One of a series of photographs taken by Daily Herald staff photographer, Edward G. Malindine, during a visit to the new production line at the Philco Radio & Television Corporation factory in Perivale in London. The radio was designed to be mass produced so that the price could be kept down to six guineas ( £6 6s 0d). The cabinet was made from moulded Bakelite, which was the first plastic to be used for making radios. Bakelite was a plastic formed when phenol formaldehyde was combined with a wood flour filler. It was a useful mouldable plastic, with very good electrical insulating properties. Its trade name 'Bakelite' was derived from the name of its inventor, Leo Baekeland.

Lucky Perivale to have such wonders built there

Well - that's what I thought when I found the Philco factory images - I already knew that Hoover had built their (dare I say it) iconic building there now owned by Tesco and thriving - and the Philco building, although now owned/leased by Playwell was doing well until 2015 when the dream went up in flames!

Exctract from

The population of Perivale, before the twentieth century, was tiny. In 1664 and in 1841, there were only five inhabited buildings. These were the farm houses; Horsenden Farm to the northwest, Grange Farm and Church Farm in the southwest, Manor Farm to the east and Alperton farm to the north. Only 28 people lived in Perivale in 1801 and in 1901, only 60.  The major development in transport was the coming of the roads. These were Greenford Road, which ran north to south and the Western Avenue, built in the 1930s. Because Perivale had so few buildings, was so close to central London and now had such excellent transport links (canal, rail and road), it seemed ideal for new buildings, both industrial and residential.

Many factories were built in Perivale between 1930 and 1939. They centred on the Western Avenue, Horsenden Lane and the branch Paddington Canal. There was also industrial building to the north of the railway line and in and around Wadsworth Road and Bideford Avenue. One of the first factories, which was built in 1929, was Sanderson Wallpapers Ltd. When they opened, they employed 900 people. By 1963, they employed 1650 people and their premises had expanded to ten acres. Perhaps the most famous factory is that facing the Western Avenue, which was opened in 1932 by Hoover Ltd. They sold vacuum cleaners and other household appliances. By 1963 they employed more than 3000 people. In 1982, they closed but the art deco building was preserved, being used by the supermarket Tesco's. Both Sanderson's and Hoover's were, in the 1930s, thought to be model factories, in which the workers enjoyed good working conditions. Apart from the building of factories, many houses were also built. Much of this initially occurred to the north of the Western Avenue and between the railway line and the canal.

More on 1936 here

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Page updated : 31st October 2016