Ultra

Ultra Electric was formed in 1925, and for the first few years manufactured parts and accessories for radio receivers. In 1930 Ultra moved to larger premises at Chalk Farm in London, from where they produced their first mains receiver. Mains receivers from Ultra, although comparatively undistinguished, sold well, and during 1935 Ultra moved to a purpose built factory on the Western Avenue in London. This factory was strongly based upon the Art Deco architectural style of the era, ironically it was probably more reminiscent of Modern design than the radio receiver cabinets Ultra produced. In 1961 Ultra became a victim of the industry consolidation occurring at that time when it was taken over by the Thorn Group. 

The receiver shown is from the heyday of 1930's Ultra. This cabinet was perhaps one of the most Art Deco influenced receivers to be produced by Ultra. Although basically an upright square box, it incorporates many Deco features, including a tuning scale in simulated "mother of pearl". The receiver was made in 1934, and the scale is marked in metres only, with no station names marked. The dial is encased in a chromium plated bevel, that also surrounds the "Tuneon" tuning indicator. The stepped design of the chromium surround is strongly reminiscent of Art Deco design. It can be noted that the scale is set against a macassar veneer inlay to produce a strong contrast, black and chrome being an up-to-the-minute combination at that time.  This style was also seen on Ekco and GEC receivers, and in other furniture of the period. (See for example the Ekco AC86). The control knobs are hexagonal, instead of circular knobs as usually found. A drawer is provided at the base of the receiver that when opened lists the frequencies at which popular stations may be found. This drawer is also chrome plated, and is often missing from receivers seen today. The spring that stopped this drawer slipping from the cabinet completely was rather weak, with the result that the drawer can be lost. The "Tuneon" tuning indicator was a bar of neon light that increased in length as a station became accurately tuned in. These devices were only in use for a year or two, becoming superseded by cathode-ray "magic eyes". Valve line-up for this receiver is AC/TP, AC/VP1, AC2/PEN/DD, UU3.

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