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Radio Companies: Ultra Electric Ltd: 1960's, The Decline and Fall 




Rosen split the electronics and receivers divisions into two companies.


Extract: 12 Mar 1960: Ultra (along with E.K.Cole, Thorn and Anglia Television) sponsors Multisignal (Boston) Ltd. to start up a piped television distribution experiment in Boston, Lincolnshire.  Local doubt and suspicion is soon damped when the good quality pictures are demonstrated.  Local reception, despite "chimney stacks looking like Christmas trees" is very poor.  Initially the service reaches 500 to 600 houses.


Extract: 23 Jul 1960: A new Anglo-Japanese trade arrangement means that the UK import quota for transistorised and other sets doubles to 400,000.  This is in exchange for Japan relaxing control on general imports into their country.  Rosen, chairman of Ultra (and of the R.I. Council) a week prior had made a speech to mark the company's 25th anniversary. He is quoted; The Japanese "pay 1s to 1s 6d an hour... whilst in this country we pay an average of 6s an hour for exactly the same labour.  You can't reconcile those differences."  Rosen also went on to predict a new era of advancement based on the future development of the transistor.


People: 14 May 1960: D. J. C. Burford, the Ultra representative for North East Midlands, can now be contacted at his home address, The Downs, Wilford, Notts, on Nottingham 89885.

23 Jul 1960: T. N. Kingham, the Ultra representative for Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and North Wiltshire, can now be contacted by telephone at Farnham Common 1248.

15 Oct 1960: F. A. Phillips now represents Ultra and Pilot in the City of Bristol, Gloucestershire, the City of Birmingham and part of Warwickshire.  His home address is Meadow Haven, Downside Road, Lulsgate, Nr. Bristol ('phone: Lulsgate 294).

Splashing out with a front page advert on the Wireless and Electrical Trader edition of 26 Nov 1960.  Pushing the new Bermuda range heavily.























The over expansion, purchase of Pilot and a slump in consumer sales meant that a rights issue, then a sale (in April) of 40% of the new electronics company was needed to generate 2 million.  In May, the company finally crumbled and was bought by Thorn for 2.4 million. Rosen retired shortly after.  I can only assume that his resignation from the R.I. (see extract below) was so that he could concentrate on the company's problems.


The image on the left from 14 January 1961 shows the winners of the autumn 1960 Ultra Bermuda Window competition.  From top to bottom they are; Southern Area, Martins of Chelsea, 33 Kings Road, London W3; Midlands Area, Pearson Bros., Long Row, Nottingham and Northern Area, Park Wireless, Raby Street, Manchester, 16.  The judges were headed by Lady Barnett and the prizes were a free two-week holiday for two in Bermuda, with luxury air travel and accommodation at the famous Castle Harbour Hotel.  The Northern Area display actually had a pond on which sat the TVs.  I hope they were not powered up!


An advert of 23 September 1961 boasted that the new Bermuda TVs (for no extra cost) were ready to take a switchable 405/625 conversion unit - a two minute job to fit.  It didn't state how much the conversion unit was, however. This advert held the Thorn logo in the footer.


Extract: 14 Jan 1961: J. W. Ridgeway, OBE (AEI) has been elected chairman of the Radio Industry Council (R.I.) in succession to E. E. Rosen (Ultra).

Winners of the Bermuda Window Competition

Ultra Invades the Domestic Heater Market


Good grief, Ultra suddenly decides to make fan-heaters!  I suspect that this was either a Thorn product looking for a new marketing badge, or the old laboratories of Ultra were put to work on something potentially more profitable.  This front page advert from the Wireless and Electrical Trader, 21 October 1961, was obviously their first push at this business.


People: 11 Nov 1961: Three appointments have been made in the sales department of Ultra Radio & Television Ltd.  C.W. S. Barnes has been appointed sales promotion manager, carrying out his duties from Television House.  Mr. Barnes was formally Midland area sales manager, and has been with the Ultra organization for over 25 years.  C.H. Claxton has been appointed an area sales manager, and can be contacted at Magpie Hall Road, Bickley, Near Bromley, Kent ('phone Imperial 1159).  L. J. Thatcher has been appointed an area sales manager also, and can be contacted at Chamber Cottage, Strawberry Lane, Carshalton, Surrey ('phone Wallington 8016).

A front page advert from October 1961 showing Ultra's new fan heater.

Thorn Buys Ultra Radio and TV
Will Preserve Separate Identities Of Ultra And Pilot:  Ultra Electric To Concentrate on Electronics

Rumours which have been current for some time were set at rest on Monday [article of 20th May 1961] when Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd. announced that they have acquired from Ultra (Holdings) Ltd. the entire share capital of Ultra Radio and Television Ltd. and Pilot Radio and Television Ltd. and their subsidiaries.  The transaction is for cash and includes Ultra's modern factory at Gosport, Hants, and other premises at Ruislip, Eastcote and Park Royal.  The official statement continues:
"It is intended to preserve the separate identities of Ultra and Pilot as working and marketing units, and the management will remain substantially unchanged. T.C. Standeven, formerly general manager and director, becomes managing director.  The head office of Ultra remains at Eastcote, to which all correspondence and enquiries should continue to be sent.
"This acquisition of Ultra and Pilot by the Thorn Group, which already in the field of radio and television manufacturers and markets Ferguson and Philco, and in association with Electric & Musical Industries Ltd., "His Master's Voice" and Marconiphone, further consolidates their position as the largest group in the industry. It is expected that with the considerable resources now available the expansion which has taken place in recent years in the Ultra mark will be still further accelerated."

E. E. Rosen's Statement

Announcing the 2.4M sale of Ultra radio and television interests, Edward E. Rosen, chairman of Ultra Electric (Holdings) Ltd., explained that in current conditions the size of an economic unit within this industry must be considerably larger than the company possessed.  After rejecting the idea of acquiring in this field, the board decided on the alternative course of adding its share of the market to another substantial unit in the industry.
"The monies being received from the sale," he said, "will be used to relieve pressure on liquid resources and will also be sufficient to meet the demands of expansion in the electronics field without raising additional capital."
Ultra Electric (Holdings) Ltd. recently announced an agreement between Ultra Electronics Ltd. and an American company, Electronics Investment Management Corporation, for the complete interchange of information on research, development, marketing and production of electronic equipment.  At the same time 40 per cent of Ultra Electronics Ltd. was sold to Electronics International Capital Ltd., the first International Capital Banking institution to concentrate its investments in electronic companies in the free world.  At that time the chairman forecast considerable expansion of Ultra Electronics Ltd. in all electronic fields. 

Ultra Electronics Buy New Trix Electronics Company

Ultra Electronics Ltd. announced this week [ 20 May 1960] that they have acquired Trix Electronics Ltd., a subsidiary of the Trix Electrical Co. Ltd. (The formation of Trix Electronics as a new company to acquire the Trix Electrical Co. Ltd. was reported in the Trader last week.)
Ultra Electronics Ltd. also state that Trix Electronics will continue to manufacture and install sound amplification equipment for PA and aircraft.


"Sarah" Saves Scott Carpenter

Extract: 2 Jun 1962: The "Sarah" radio beacon equipment developed by Ultra Electronic Ltd. and widely used throughout the world, was responsible for locating spaceman Scott Carpenter when he came down in the sea after his successful orbits of the earth last week.


Ultra "Smart Set" Range Launched

Extract: 2 Jun 1962:  Last Tuesday a complete new range of receivers by Ultra Radio and TV Ltd. named the "Smart Set" was previewed by the press.  The range comprises three 19" TV, two radiograms, four transistor sets (one a VHF table model) and a mains operated record reproducer.

All the models in the range have a frame surround giving them a squared up appearance. An elm veneer finish gives the TV sets a new presentation.  The company's Bermuda trade mark is being retained and all sets are fully convertible to 625 lines.


People: 28 Apr 1962: M. C. Goodrich, Ultra/Pilot representative in the S.E. London postal areas and Kent, can now be contacted at his permanent address: Maxwell Drive, Maidstone, Kent.

28 Jul 62: T. R. Stewart, Ultra representative for South West Scotland and Cumberland, can now be contacted at his new address - Merrylee 0346.

Another front page advert from the Wireless and Electrical Trader 30 June 1962.  Showing off their new "Smart Set" range of transistor radios.


The Ultra brand name was finally dropped as the now consolidated (but brand name-heavy) industry fought against the very strong Japanese imports.