No frills or furbelows

The Fenman II is definitely a no messing kind of man’s radio.  It’s big, solid and dependable.  Made by Pye, Cambridge, England in the mid-fifties to rival the continental bad boys.  What it may lack in styling, it more than makes up for in sound.

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This ten valve radio is considered, by some, to be ‘without doubt, the best valved radio made in the UK, with push pull output and 4 speakers’.  

A luxury model when it was introduced in the fifties and, according to Pye Ltd the ‘multiple loudspeaker system maintains a true balance of treble and bass in every part of the room and adds an unusual realism and depth to the reproduction’.

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Very soon it will be on its way to its new home in Ireland where the new owner has been patiently waiting.  The latest of our well-travelled radios.  Not the best looking radio we’ve seen, weighs a ton, missing the original knobs, but quality none the less.

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1958 PYE Continental

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The 1958 PYE Continental.  An enormous Table Model Valve Radio with wooden and blue painted cabinet.  A VHF2D to you if you’re technically minded, but to me a dark mahogany veneered plywood case with a rather wondrous contrasting pale blue and cream trim and just a pop of red.

The PYE Continental, hmm it got me to thinking … Lincoln Continental …

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I imagine the inspiration for the design might have been heavily influenced by the nation’s fascination with all things American.  Rock and Roll, Diners, blingy jukeboxes and live-in fridges. Pure escapism to move away from the misery and monochrome that was World War II and its aftermath.

The moniker Continental also conjures up wonderful pictures of a European life glimpsed in films like the adorable Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday.  The world had suddenly become smaller and more colourful.

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Vintage valve radios of the late 1950s should be treasured for making a last stand. They are big and bold design statements.  Appreciate them as a complete contrast to our current obsession with miniaturization sparked by the arrival of the transistor and the microchip.

Call me old fashioned, but I do prefer my chips served with salt and vinegar, whilst watching the waves roll in.