The Chakophone Wireless Story

The front of a Chakophone 1B wireless set
Image courtesy of the Vintage Radio Web website

Since finding out about the local connection of my wireless I started to research the Eagle Engineering Company Ltd, the wireless sets they made, and the people involved.

Here is a summary account on how The Eagle Engineering Co. Ltd started manufacturing wireless sets, as they were specialist in the manufacture of a wide range of vehicle bodies at that time; and today still operate on The Heathcote Industrial Estate, Warwick as Dennis Eagle, manufacturing specialised refuse vehicles, which are today used by local authorities.

The earliest wirelesses

The Chakophone wireless manufacturing journey, I believe, started at the end of the First World War, when in 1919- 1920, Guy Henry Champ and his partner George Ernest Osborne Kay operated as Champ, Kay and Company from the wharf and shedding next to the canal in The Saltisford, Warwick. They offered repairs and overhauls to motorcar lighting and starting sets and re-charging batteries, having the Exide battery agency for the area. They both offered their services as electrical engineers, and were engineers of small hand tools.

In 1922 Champ and Kay started operating wireless installations, and offered the supply of parts. As reported in the local press, they operated a receiving wireless station for customers to see and hear the wonder of wireless. I have never seen any pre January 1923 wireless set manufactured by Champ and Kay but I do believe they did manufacture wireless sets. In January 1923 it was announced that Messrs Champ Kay & Co. had decided to throw in their lot with The Eagle Engineering Company Ltd, Eagle Works, The Saltisford, just up the road from where Champ and Kay had been operating. Mr Guy Henry Champ was absorbed into an Electrical and Wireless department in the Eagle Works. This catered for any electrical requirements, lighting sets, and maintenance of the Exide battery service. It also absorbed the Champ and Kay company with their Chakophone wireless sets.

A wide range of manufacturing

The Eagle Engineering Company were an all-round manufacturer of vehicle bodies and every type of tradesman was employed, so manufacturing wireless sets in wooden cabinets was easy for them to adapt to. Between January 1923 to around 1936, a wide range of Chakophone wireless sets were manufactured in the Eagle Works, and later in the former brewery building at the rear of the factory. This carried on up to the winding up of the wireless manufacturing around 1936. From 1923 to the early 1930s, The Eagle Engineering Company attended the wireless shows in London displaying their produce, as did so many other similar companies of the day.

Champ and Kay

Mr Kay moved on in the early 1920s to Birmingham and died in the 1970s; little is known of what he finished up doing.

Mr Guy Champ opened a retail shop The Eagle Wireless Supply Company Ltd in Smith Street, Warwick in 1936 , where he sold Murphy radio and televisions, having obtained the Murphy radio agencies. He manufactured primary batteries as reported in Murphy News and also sold photographic equipment. Mr Champ was well known in Warwick; he served as a Conservative councillor and was a Special Constable. Sadly the journey ends with the death of Mr Guy Henry Champ in Warwick Hospital on the 31st March 1951.

With thanks to the former personnel manager at Eagle Engineering, Mr Thomas Pratt, for help with information.

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.

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