Radio Companies: Ultra Electric Ltd:
1960's, The Decline and Fall
split the electronics and receivers divisions into two companies.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
out with a front page advert on the Wireless and Electrical Trader edition
of 26 Nov 1960. Pushing the new Bermuda range heavily.
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
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!
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.
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).
of the Bermuda Window Competition
Invades the Domestic Heater Market
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.
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
front page advert from October 1961 showing Ultra's new fan heater.
Thorn Buys Ultra Radio
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
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
Ultra Electronics Buy New Trix Electronics
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.
Saves Scott Carpenter
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.
"Smart Set" Range Launched
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
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.
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.
Jul 62: T. R. Stewart, Ultra representative for South West Scotland and
Cumberland, can now be contacted at his new address - Merrylee 0346.
front page advert from the Wireless and Electrical Trader 30 June
1962. Showing off their new "Smart Set" range of
Ultra brand name was finally dropped as the now consolidated (but brand
name-heavy) industry fought against the very strong Japanese imports.