• UK exports just over 100,000 television sets.
  • UK TV license increases from £2 to £3.
  • 4.2 million licenses by the end of the year.
  • CRT sizes predominantly 14" and 17".
  • Worlds first regular colour TV service begins in America.
  • First compatible colour transmission from Alexandra Palace.

The first live weather broadcast is transmitted on the 11th of January.

On the 1st of June 1 the television receiving licence fee is increased from £2 to £3, the first increase since its introduction in 1946 and making BBC Television financially stable for the first time.

It now appeared certain that a second TV channel, for commercial television, was to go-ahead. However most manufacturers were members of an association called BREMA, collectively agreeing not to mention tuneability or adaptability in public advertising before May 1st so that they all had a chance to prepare sets. However, Pye's chairman C. O. Stanly had stormed out of BREMA the previous year and, not being bound by this agreement, became the first manufacturers to release a Band III capable set, the model VT2, in January. Pye VT2 - First Band III capable set [6K]
The Pye VT2

From September 1st, TV trade tests were extended by an additional hour, now covering 10am-1pm except sundays. The tranmissions consisted of test card 'C' plus music transmitted at reduced power using the standby transmitters. The additional hour's tranmission was stated to be in effect until the end of the year .

October 7th saw the first test broadcast of 405-line colour television that was also compatible with existing 405-line receivers. Utilising the American N.T.S.C. system, the signal was tranmitted from Alexandra Palace.


National Radio Show

The majority of television chassis designs were fairly similar in as much they used flyback EHT, booster circuits, AC/DC technique, cathode modulation of the CRT and were superhets. Instead developments were focussing on addressing the need for reception of both B.B.C. (channel I) and I.T.V. (channel III) where three different methods appear to have been adopted :-

  1. A 12-channel switch in providing 5 channel I and 7 channel III. The more stingy manufacturers might only populate the few switch possitions applicable to a specific area of the country.
  2. Two seperatly switched continuous tuning controls, the argument being there was unlikely to be more than one channel in each band for the forseable future.
  3. A Band I design with special provision for a later band III convertor. This wasn't as daft as it first seemed since it would still be a number of years before some areas of the contry were covered by Band III transmitters.

Also clear at the show was the contiuing trend towards larger C.R.T.s. Although HMV had introduced a 21" model way back in 1951, this year's show was the first to display commercial 21" models from other manufacturers, following the introduction of 21" C.R.T's by Brimar, Ediswan, English Electric, Ferranti and Mullard. Unlike the other manufacturers, English Electric's 21" CRT was still a round type, which was forced by its use of a metal cone construction (just like the EMI version several years previously). The EE CRT, the T909, must have been a failure as I can't recall coming across any sets that used it, presumably because the competition's rectangular tubes required much smaller cabinets.



With Cathodean having introduced a monster 27-inch CRT the previous year, pictures could be produced that rivalled the size of pictures normally requiring the use of projection systems, at least as far as sets intended for domestic use were concerned. This year Brimar followed suit with a similarly sized CRT, the C21HM.

Picture of EMI 3/17 CRT [5K]
EMI 3/17 C.R.T.

In response to this, EMI introduced a new CRT for projection sets, enabling the size of projection pictures to be increased still further. The size of the projected image was ultimately limited by picture brightness, larger pictures requiring more light generation. Until now, the 2½-inch Mullard MW6/2, operating at a high EHT of 25KV, had been used in every domestic projection set since the start of the fifties. The new EMI CRT, type 3/17, had an increased diameter of 3¾-inch giving over twice the screen area of the MW6/2 and operated at an even higher E.H.T. of 28KV. Also, whereas the MW6/2 had a relatively flat face, the 3/17 was more curved which, it was claimed, reduced the defocussing at the edges of the screen that tended to occur with the MW6/2. However the writing was on the wall for projection sets and it seems the only set to utilise this CRT was an HMV model.

Nera C48 self-contained front projection TV [9K]
Nera C48 forward projection
set with 4ft x 3ft screen.

Just as HMV had finally got around to making their first projection set the demand for domestic projection sets fell as larger "normal" CRT's became available.

There was still demand for very large screen projection sets for use in clubs, hospitals and such like. One firm, "Nera", specialised in this type of equipment and produced the first self-contained projection set capable of generating a 4ft-by-3ft picture which would normally require a seperate projector unit with a remote screen.

With the introduction of 90-degree C.R.T.s which required 50% more scanning power than the previous 70-degree types, Mullard presented a design for a high efficiency timebase. The key improvement was to "tune" the leakage inductance of the line output transformer which had the effect of both reducing the line output and efficiency diode's flyback voltage by around 20% whilst increasing the E.H.T. voltage.


With the impending arrival of transmissions in Band III at frequencies some 3-4 times higher than the current Band I, Mullard introduced two new valves for use in the tuner of a TV. The first was the PCC84, a double triode intended to be connected in a cascode arrangement to act as a front end amplifier. The second was the PCF80, a triode-pentode for use in the frequency changer, the triode intended for operation in a Colpitts oscillator with the pentode acting as a mixer. In time, the PCF80 could be found in quite unrelated circuitry with various degrees of success such as in the disasterous 1955 Pye V14C.


On the 13th November the first of the B.B.C.'s planned medium power tranmitters opens at Rowridge on the Isle of Wight. Transmitting on channel 3, it replaced the temporary station at Truleigh Hill near Brighton that had opened in the previous year.

News From Abroad


In September regular state-run television starts in Sweden. It had been a long battle, starting in 1947 when a joint committee was set up to study television research. They decided to build an experimental transmitter transmitter in Stockholm.

All was quiet until 1950 when the Swedish Board of Telegraphs and the Swedish State Broadcasting Company asked the Government for a grant for the purchase of experimental equipment. The Government say "No". Instead, the following year, a Government commission was set up to inquire into television.

In 1952 the commission asked the Government for funds to start some television activities in 1954. The Government said "No".

In 1953 a large group consisting of four large firms manufacturing radio and TV equipment, various co-operatives, the Association of Retailers and the Agricultural Federation (!?) asked the Government for permission to start a commercial TV service. Well, by now you can guess what the Government said.

Then in 1954, presumably in a moment of weakness, a Swedish film producer was granted permission to stage a purely commercial television week. The intention was to show that commercial TV could have educational and cultural value. But when the film producer asked to continue experiments between 1st September 1954 and 30th May 1955 the Government were back to normal and said "No".

But on the 29th October 1954 experimental 625-line broadcasts were started by the State Radio from a 5kW station operating from the Technical High School in Stockholm. Initially consisting of just one or two hours of broadcasts per week, this "experiment" continued for several years with a slow increase in the amount of programming.


General view of television with PCB [14K]   How small capacitors and resistors were created on the PCB [11K]
Inside a French television utilising a printed circuit.

The French radio manufacturer J. Visseaux S.A. manufacture a television utilising printed circuits. It would be another two or three years before UK televisions made use of this technology. However the most unusual feature of the French design was the creation of the various tuning coils and capacitors using tracks on the PCB itself ; only low value components could be implemented this way, which was fine for the high frequencies used in television but were not suitable for broadcast radio use. Whilst the valves themselves were mounted via holders directly onto the PCB, heavier components such as electolytic capacitors and power transformers were still mounted on a seperate metal frame.

As of June there were three low power tranmitters in operation, received on 125,000 receivers. The television license fee was 4,350fr (~£4 9s). The fourth tranmitter opened at Marseilles in September and was closely followed by another transmitter at Lyon-Ville on the 15th October.

Picture of french test card. CLick for larger view [89K]   Example receiver [8K]
French 819-line test card.
Link to larger view [89K]
  An example of a typically ornate French
receiver (manufactured by Gétou).


The year starts with regular television test transmissions from Tryvannshøgda transmitter in Norway from the 1st January.

Canada sees rapid expansion of it's television services. The addition of 19 new transmitters, making 24 in total, the proportion of homes with television doubleds to 22%, with the 23 Canadian manufacturers producing 612,000 sets between them.

In October the U.S. Military Transport Service opens their first television station. Operating in the Azores, it transmitted telefilms to American troops and their families.

Later in the year it was estimated that in Budapest, Hungary, there were around 200 foreign made sets in use, presumably picking up transmissions from neighbouring countries. These owners were invited to criticise experimental transmissions of films by the engineers involved in planning Hungary's first TV station due to open the following year.

In Russia, by the end of the year it was estimated that some 70,000 televisions were in operation in Moscow where the total population was around eight million. Purchasers of such sets had a wide choice ... of two sets ! One had a 6x5inch screen whilst the second model was a larger screen version with a 7x5inch picture.

Television services start in Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Monaco (November) and Poland (June).

Daft Idea of the Year.

Double-view viewing mirror [9K]   Mirror idea in 1935 ! [7K]
Words fail me !!!   But new it wasn't, as shown
in this photo from mid-1935.

<1953 Gallery of Sets from 1954 1955>

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J.Evans 2005-2007
Last updated
6th January 2007