Murphy Radio

Contributed by Rory Cellan-Jones

This is a battered old Murphy radio that must have been made some time in the 1940s or 1950s, but was still the main radio in the home I grew up in in the 1960s and 1970s. It was - and would still be if I got round to getting it mended - an object which combined beauty with functionality. When you turned the knob to switch it on, an orange glow would gradually light up a darkened room on a winter's evening. The sound from the wooden cabinet was rich and warm. It was normally tuned to the Home Service or the Light Programme, but I remember scrolling through the frequencies and hearing stations from across Europe- the list of place names in the Long Wave window runs from Reykjavik to Ankara to Berlin.

It's a reminder of the first piece of communications technology that really brought the world - or at least Britain - together. Before the age of television, families would gather round radios like this to hear the wartime news bulletins, Winston Churchill speaking to the nation, or perhaps an episode of Take It From Here. Thirty years later, I used to crouch beside it to hear the football results on Sports Report. So for me it speaks of childhood, and of the history of technology

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