In the early 1980s I was working in Royal Leamington Spa. My work brought me into contact with many people who had diverse professions and around that time, I was given a home-made crystal set by a member of the family in exchange for a small display cabinet I had picked up on my travels. I made friends with a cabinet maker in the old part of Leamington Spa town and thought due to his profession he might know where I could get a box to house my crystal set in (which is still in need of a suitable box some 30 years on). One day, this cabinet maker told me he had been approached by a gentleman in Kenilworth who had a box of old wireless parts to go to a good home.
An ebonite panel
On arranging a meeting, I called on an elderly gentleman who had a box full of odds and ends. Amongst the items was an ebonite panel with some components attached, but they were very corroded having been stored in a damp environment for many years. On further investigation, and on placing adverts in magazines at the time, I found that the Ebonite panel was marked Chakophone No.1B three valve, but there was nothing to indicate where it was made.
I was in luck. A member of The British Vintage Wireless Society responded to my request for help, and brought my attention to the book Early Wireless by Anthony Constable, which described the Chakophone No.1B and identified the manufacturer as Eagle Engineering Co. Ltd. At that time the company was Hestair Eagle, and the factory was still in the Saltisford, Warwick. I was living in Hampton Magna near Warwick at that time, and passed the factory every day on my way to work in Leamington. On making contact with the personnel manager (Mr Thomas Pratt) one day while walking our Yorkshire terrier dog, he told me he remembered the wireless days, and some of the workers who put the Chakophone wireless sets together.
A 30 year search
Having spent the last 30 years plus searching for certain missing parts from what I have of the Chakophone No.1B to enable it to get working, it is only in the last two years or so I have attempted to restore the wireless. Having obtained the cabinet dimensions and a source of well-seasoned old English oak wood, and a British Wireless Society member who could re nickel some of the original parts, this is an ongoing project.
Since finding out about the local connection I started to research the Eagle Engineering Company Ltd, the wireless sets they made, and the people involved.
Editor’s note. The pictures are not of the author’s wireless set, but are from the Vintage Radio Web website. Further information on the radio set can be found at this link.