Murphy Radio's Demise 

All good things have to come to an end, and that is unfortunately the case with the Murphy Radio business.  It is difficult to comprehend that a company started from scratch in 1929 by three people could become a household name employing thousands and then cease trading within the space of about 50 years.  

Imports from Japan in the early 1960ís started the decline.  The Japanese had embraced the new semiconductor technology and were producing small transistor radios that performed well and tended to perhaps incorporate more up to date styling.  Of course television was more important than radio by now, and the automated production lines were employed to greater effect earlier in Japan than in the U.K. making imported televisions from the likes of Sony cheaper and generally more reliable. 

The U.K. radio and television companies believed consolidation was the way forward to counteract the foreign invasion and many U.K. companies merged to exploit economies of scale. The Rank Organisation had already taken over Bush Radio, and in 1962 Murphy Radio was sold to Rank to form the Rank Bush Murphy group.  The Murphy name continued in use however, and the Murphy Company designed, built and marketed its own products.  That said, there were no more particularly significant or inventive products from Murphy though once the company was part of Rank Bush Murphy, an effect often seen when a innovative business becomes part of a conglomerate group.  The last years of Murphy Radio were a far cry from the ground breaking designs seen previously like the alphabetical tuning drum and baffle boards. 

By 1978 the Rank Group of companies were suffering from such poor sales that the government awarded a £10 million grant to enable Rank to set up a manufacturing plant with the Japanese company Toshiba.  The resulting television sets were still marketed under the Murphy name (among others) but it was a doomed venture, and the Murphy name was sold to J.J. Silber, a subsidiary of Great Universal Stores (GUS Group).  Shown left is a small article on the subject of the takeover that appeared in the financial pages of the Daily Mail in 1981.  The article title demonstrates the affection and esteem that the Murphy name had come to acquire during the previous fifty years.

The Murphy name was briefly used again in 1987 as a brand name on Fidelity television receivers.   

A disappointing end to the Murphy Radio story, but at least many of their receivers are preserved on this site, and in other radio collections in the U.K.  Of course many products are probably still providing good day to day service! 

 

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