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!
Click to next page for suggested further reading
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