The Welsh radio museum
The Gwefr Heb Wifrau - Wireless in Wales, a charitable trust, is a small radio museum with a difference. With its emphasis on the history of Broadcasting in Wales, the influence of broadcasting on our national identity and the contribution of the Welsh to the development of wireless technology it is unique. We have an interesting collection of old radio equipment and books as well as educational and informative displays. The Museum is based around the collection of the late David Evan Jones and was opened just a few weeks after his death in 2008. In 2013 we were officially Accredited by CyMAL a Welsh Government Agency.
The museum is open on most Mondays, 11.00 - 15.00 and closed on bank holidays. Group and private visits at any other time by appointment are welcome throughout the year.
Monthly Update, March 2017
The Curator's Evening was held at the Museum on January 20th, when David Crawford talked about 'Radio Luxembourg 1932-1945'. This is a sometimes forgotten era in the field of broadcasting, but it was a very important time in the development of commercial radio before World War 2. In 1931 Captain Plugge set up the IBC, the International Broadcasting Company, in France. The programmes were sponsored by commercial companies, including chocolate and soap manufacturers. (Very interestingly, this is the origin of the commonly used phrase for advertising, 'giving something a plug'.) Later, a group of businessmen from Luxembourg and France decided to set up a radio station and called it 'Radio Luxembourg'. Programmes from these two radio stations were very popular in the UK, because they were different from the usual BBC products at the time. The IBC came to an end in 1940, and during the second World War Radio Luxembourg was used by Lord Haw-Haw to broadcast propaganda on behalf of Germany. After the War, Radio Luxembourg was relaunched as a commercial radio station, broadcasting across Europe in French and English. The second part of the lecture,‘Radio Luxembourg 1945-2017', will be given in the Museum on June 16th.
On February 13th, Trefnant WI came to see the Museum's Collection and to listen to a talk by Sue Griffith on her mother, Doris Hare. Doris Hare was a multi-talented actress, singer and dancer from Bargoed, Glamorgan, and she was famous for her work in films and on the stage, in Shakespearean plays and, especially, in the comedy programme, 'On the Buses' on television. She received the Royal Variety Club's Special Award in 1982 for her contribution to Show Business. A film of her opening the Smithfield Garage in Denbigh in 1949 was shown during the afternoon.
Recently, Wireless in Wales Museum has received a very exciting gift, a number of portable transistor radios from the late 50s - early 60s, in pristine condition. On the left of the picture stands a Pye Portable Transistor Radio from 1957. This was the second type of Transistor Radio manufactured in the UK. (The first type was manufactured by Pam.) The radio on the right is a Roberts RT1 Portable Transistor Radio from 1958, the first portable radio to be manufactured by Roberts. Its price was £17.
Monthly Update, February 2017.
2017 is a year for recording many anniversaries in the broadcasting world.
In 1907, the amplifier valve was invented in USA and this allowed the amplification of sound waves and radio waves for the first time.
On January 1st, 1927, the BBC was changed, by Royal Charter, from a commercial broadcasting company which provided radio throughout the UK, into a corporation.
In 1937, the BBC Welsh Region was created in order to give Wales a different broadcasting identity. Previously, Wales had been part of the West of England region and Welsh programmes had been broadcast to that part of England, as well as Wales.
In 1947 the transistor was invented in USA and this was the beginning of the electronic world we live in today.
In 1957 Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the earth, was launched by Russia. The first radio signal from space was broadcast from it and this was the beginning of the development of present day satellites.
In 1967 the first colour television broadcast took place on BBC 2 on July 1st. The first programmes were the Wimbledon Tennis Championship.
In 1967 the Marine Offences Act was passed in order to close all the illegal pirate radio stations which were broadcasting from outside UK territorial waters, with the exception of Radio Caroline which continued for another year or so. The interest in popular music continued and therefore the government gave the BBC permission to launch Radio 1 and Radio 2 in 1967. Radio 1 is the most popular radio station in the world ever.
On January 3rd, 1977, Radio Cymru was launched in order to give Wales a Welsh language station. This was the only station in the UK which broadcast solely on FM at the time. The first programme was "Helo Bobl" with Hywel Gwynfryn at 7.00 a.m. and Hergest's "Ffrindiau bore oes" was the first record. (Radio Wales and Radio Scotland commenced in 1978.)
On November 1st, 1982, 35 years ago, S4C was launched, and it broadcast 22 hours of Welsh language programmes a week, as well as English programmes from the Channel 4 service. Previously a number of Welsh programmes had been broadcast on BBC1 and ITV. In the 70s the government decided that a fourth channel was needed, in addition to the three existing ones, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV, and there was intense campaigning to have a special channel for Wales. Today S4C is available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin, Freesat, online and on App.
In 1992, 25 years ago, Classic FM was launched, a national commercial radio station to broadcast classical music.
In 1997, Channel 5 was launched, a commercial television station for the UK.
Here are the latest in our series of lectures in the Museum on Friday evenings at 7.00 p.m.:
February 17th, "Lewis and Clark follow Lewis and Clark", the account of Thomas Jefferson discovering the North-West Passage in 1802, by Sue Clark.
March 17th, the David Edward Hughes Annual Lecture, "Menai Science Park" by Ieuan Wyn Jones.
At the moment, the Museum is looking for a 16 rpm Record and a Quadrophonic Record for our collection of Vintage Records. Are there any in Denbigh?
Monthly update, January 2017.
The end of 2016 was a very busy period for the Radio Museum.
David Smith gave a talk on "Isaac Roberts: the Astronomer from Groes from the 19th century". Isaac Roberts was born in Groes in 1829 and in 1883 he began pioneering work by photographing stars, especially Orion, Andromeda and the Pleiades Cluster. The photograhps were difficult to decipher but they were very revealing. They were displayed by the Royal Astronomical Society regularly and Isaac Roberts was awarded the Society's Gold Medal in 1895
Tony Schiavone gave us an outline history of the development of Welsh music recording from 1800 until today. Madge Breeze singing the Welsh National Anthem was the first recording in 1899, and she was followed by recordings of choirs, singing festivals and sermons. In the 1950s companies were established to record specifically for the Welsh market and they recorded Jac and Wil, David Lloyd and Triawd y Coleg. In the 1960s a change occurred, when recording for the younger generation commenced. The Sain company was set up in 1969. By today, everything has changed as people download music, and the recording companies have lost all control of the market. Recently, vinyl records have regained popularity because listeners want to be able to handle the record, and its sleeve. Tony Schiavone left us with a very interesting suggestion - that Wireless in Wales Museum should establish a local artists Record Archive.
Suzy Davies AM, Conservative spokesperson on Heritage and Culture, visited the Museum on December 2nd. She is accompanied in the photograph by Peter, Pegi and Dyfrig.
On December 5th, Wireless in Wales Radio Amateurs (GB0WIW) successfully contacted a Radio Amateur on the east coast of the USA, their first contact across the Atlantic.
On December 3rd over £600 was raised for Wireless in Wales and MaryDei in a very successful Coffee Morning in Eirianfa. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic support
Our next event will be the Curator's Evening, on January 20th, when David Crawford will speak about "Radio Luxembourg, 1933-1945" at 19.00. A warm welcome to all.
Thanks to everyone who supported us during 2016, especially our Speakers.