<The War Years


Part of opening broadcast sequence [31K]
  • Television restarts on the 7th June
  • Very few new TV sets available.
  • Plans to extend television into the provinces.
  • 1750 TV licenses in force by the end of the year.
The announcer is back ! [4K]

In march the previous year, a report produced by Lord Hankey's Television Comittee recommended that :-

  1. Television transmissions should be resumed from Alexander Palace.
  2. The pre-war transmission format - 405 line - should be retained.
  3. Transmissions should be extended to provincial centers as soon as reasonably possible.
  4. An Advisory Comittee should be set up repsonsible for, and supervising, the development of the service.

The recommendations were accepted by Parliament in September 1945 and television finally recommenced on the 7th June 1946 although with little fanfare ; even magazines specialising in radio such as Wireless World and Practical Wireless gave nothing but the briefest of paragraphs at the back of their news sections.

The first provincial center chosen for expansion of the service was Birmingham. However the difficulties involved in laying a co-axial cable over 100 miles between the two cities meant that the first provincial transmissions would not begin until the end of the decade.

The shortages of materials post World War II meant that the government kept a tight control upon the usage of raw materials. With this in mind, the production limit for televsions in 1946 was set at 78,000. Given that no more than 20,000 sets had been produced in three years before the war, this figure may seem generous. However wood was licensed seperately and was in great demand, not just for radio and television cabinets but also in the many other industries including, of great immediate post-war importance, the construction industry. Thus the few television manufacturers who did begin producing new television sets often found themselves with chassis but no cabinets to put them in. Indeed when Wireless World Magazine surveyed a number (though, it seems, not all) of television manufacturers at the start of transmissions, none could supply any sets.

Pye B16T [6K] B16T's chassis [8K]   Picture of cossor 900 [4K]
Pye B16T   Cossor 900

Of the few sets that did become available, most were still of pre-war design such as the Cossor 900 which was almost identical to the pre-war 1210. However at least one manufacturer, Pye, had not been idle. As long ago as 1941 Pye had a theoretical design for a post-war television using the new EF50 valve and in 1943 members of their radar team discreetly began work on a post-war television, carefully hiding their work whenever the government inspectors came calling ! This work gave Pye quite a development lead over other manufactures, enabling them not only to be the only manufacturer able to offer an all-new television design (the model B16T) but also release it a full two months before regular transmissions resumed.

The financial cost of the war meant that money needed to be bought into the country via exports. The government considered various ways of persuading manufacturers to concentrate on exports, one of which was by allocating production licenses to those manufacturers who targetted exports. A second method was to try and discourage potential purchasers by threatening to increase the tax levied on new purchases from 22.5% to 33.3%. This increase had not been finalised when tranmissions recommenced but the uncertainty of its possible rise hardly inspired manufacturer's to invest in the production of televisions.

With the shortage of materials and lack of exposure at exhibitions it is not suprising that less than 6000 televisions were produced in 1946. The Board-of-Trade gave the following production figures¹ :-

  July : 298
  August : 235
  September : 754
  October : 1334
  November : 1725
  December : 1532
On the 24th of September an exhibition optimistically titled "Britain Can Make It" was opened by King George VI at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Although this was a general exhibition it included over 130 radios from various manufacturers ; interestingly however there were only two television sets, one of which was the 15-inch HMV model illustrated opposite (the other being a Marconi table-top set). 15-inch HMV set shown at the exhibition.
One of only two televisions at the exhibition,
a HMV model that may well be identical to
their pre-war model 1802.

The number of TV licenses issued during the year, which stood at about 1750, is not a true reflection of the number of sets actually in use since owners could use sets on their current 10s broadcast licenses until those existing licenses expired. The cost of a TV license was £2.

News From Abroad

In September, America were about to introduce a rule requiring that television stations broadcast a minimum of 2 hours in any one day and at least 28 hours total during the week. This decision was now deferred for 6 months due to the state of the television services that seemed to be on the decline. As part of this decline some 80 applications for the erection of television transmitters had been withdrawn.

  Gallery of Sets from 1946 1947>

Notes : 1. Aug-Oct, from Wireless World magazine. July based on figure for July-October combined in Wireless & Electrical Trader.

Page copyright ©
J.Evans 2005
Last updated
10th January 2005