Radio Rentals Baird Television brand - were they ever retailed?
Just doing a little research on what Radio Rentals policy was around retailing Televisions during the 1960's and 1970's as a pose to renting them. I have been reading with interest the threads on the Baird M700 series CTVs, and have just restored a Baird M660 consul receiver from 1968. I also have a 25 inch Baird 8724 consul receiver which looks very much like the Baird 700 series. I was always under the impression that Radio Rentals destroyed all of their TV sets once they were BER and refused to sell any to their customers. So was wondering how these Baird sets in question have survived? Perhaps staff members could purchase them? maybe some sets were never handed back to RR or did they have any special retail arrangements. I would be curious to see if someone could shed some light on the issue.
I can't speak for Radio Rentals, but I remember my sister and her husband renting a set from one of the major rental firms. After a lengthy time renting, they decided to buy their own and end the rental. The company agreed to the termination, and were supposed to collect their set, however, several weeks later it was still there and my sister called the company to get them to come and collect it. The company's response was simple "Oh that... We're not bothered about it, so if you want to keep it, it's yours..... Otherwise, put it out for the bin men ". Naturally, and unsure about this 'windfall' they kept the set just in case there was any comeback from the company, but there never was and the telly ended up in their daughters' room once they were deemed old enough to have a telly in their room.
So interpret as you will, but my guess might be that if the set(s) weren't considered to be worth the cost of recovering from the customer, they may well have been written off in a similar fashion.
After having rebuilt my Baird 8724 from an empty cabinet, it gave me an appreciation of this brand name and cabinet styles, of course we know by this stage that's all Baird was, just a brand name owned by Radio Rentals. What I had noticed was that there seemed to be quite a void when it comes to collecting early Baird colour TV's. Take my M702 and M718, 8724 and 8749 sets, as far as I'm aware there are only a handful of survivors of these sets known to the community. When you compare just how many other brands survived it begged the question why?
As luck would have it I had an introduction to a retired TV engineer called Byron, he had his own dealership in southern Scotland. He had been in the trade since 1953 and was also a Baird dealer. He sent me all sorts of goodies in the form of manuals and technical bulletins but the best treat of all was a long conversation with him. I expressed my dismay at how very little of these old Baird CTV's survived to this day. The little snippet of info that followed shed some light as to why.
Byron stated that after two years on rental Radios Rentals would offer their newer model at such an attractive price that they could upgrade at virtually no increase in rental. He wondered what Radio Rentals did with all the recalled 2 year old sets, his local Radio Rentals rep said, "Oh they're taken to an old mine and dumped down the shaft. When asked why the rep said it was part of the policy not have old kit out in the market, where possible it was recovered and destroyed. Now prior to this I had heard the mineshaft tale before and considered it just that a tale, but coming from a totally different independent source does give it some credence.
As for how some escaped?
Well two I know about, my M718 survived as it was the personal set of a TV engineers dealership. It was his personal set and he maintained it before passing it on the owner before me, who subsequently mothballed it for almost 30 years. I repaired it Feb/Mar 2017.
An M702, owned by another member on here (TVjon74) has a very similar story. The set he acquired was sold by the family of a deceased TV engineer who had owned the set from new and had maintained it in a similar manner. It was then relegated to a shed prior to its disposal on e-bay.
So perhaps many of these sets that survived came from trade ownership.
As an aside, the real rarity Baird CTV's to try and find but alas are likely gone forever are the M704 and M707. You can read more about it all in a thread I started here
Hope I've not bored you with my ramblings.
Thanks Chris that's very interesting. Ive not heard of their sets being dumped in a pit before but I was told that on the 70's and early 80's RR had a center at I think it was Amersham where redundant sets were crushed in a large machine. Obviously a more industrialized way of disposing of the old stock. I know they were very keen to keep ex rental sets out of the market place up until the early to mid 1980s when they had a complete change of heart and started selling off all their ex rental legacy models to the trade. Back in the day I worked at one of those ex rental ware house places you used to see in the back of the Television magazine selling tvs to the trade. we started buying large quantities of RR stuff directly from their local depot in Ringwood, Dorset. it was mostly 9000/ 9600 / 9800 8000/ and 8800 and the occasional TX 10 if we were lucky. Eventually the stopped us buying direct from the depot and set up their own chain of trade warehouse ex rental outlets. All a complete about turn from their previous policy. I wonder if by then the saw the writing on the wall for the Tv rental business and thought that selling sets off was a good way to get some money in for the shareholders !
The MRG/Baird televisions were offered to independent retailers by the specially formed company called "Baird Television Distributors Ltd". So any sets with the prefix "M" before the type number you can be assured were sold by an independent retailer. It's possible that sets sold from RR showrooms had the M prefix as well. It's very unlikely the Thorn made sets were offered to independents.
Likewise Rediffusion offered televisions to independent retailers under the Doric brand name. From late 1982 the Murphy brand name appeared on Mark 4 sets. After the collapse of Rank Radio International Ltd the Murphy brand name was acquired by a firm call J J Silber.
Follow up to my last post. Certain 680 series sets from Baird Distributors were given new type numbers. The mono dual standard model 15 was a table set fitted with the then new 20" CRT. Push button UHF tuner. Model 16 is a 23" CRT table set with a push button UHF tuner.
Till you are a mine of information on this trade. I was never aware of the Baird retail arm of the company so if i understate correctly. later Thorn chassied Baird sets from the early 70s were the ones that were never officialy sold but Bradford built Bairds with RR designed chassis were retailed if only in small numbers ?
I remember some Rediffusion Mk1 sets badged as BWE President. I never found out why, Malc.
Much has been written about Baird Television Ltd. The Radio Rentals TV sets made in the Bradford works have heritage, not only the Baird brand name but also manufacturer of the TVs was originally MRG. Mains Radiograms Limited was a company located in Bradford. As the companies' name suggests MRG made radiograms exclusively and began production in 1929. https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Mains_Radio_Gramophone
I worked for a small independent retailer in the 60s and our mainstay was Bush. After the takeover of Murphy and the subsequent move to Welwyn Garden City, we became a little concerned at a drop in reliability so took on the offer of becoming a Baird dealer.
The performance was good, as was the reliability over time, and our customers liked them so we started selling the 680 series sets in large numbers.
In mid 1967 we had two demonstration colour sets at the same time! The first to arrive was a Bush CTV25 which went on display in the shop in a curtained off area which gave some protection from the harsh fluorescent lighting.
Then a Baird M700 arrived which we took up to the workshop for a good inspection. We didn't get to keep it to ourselves for long, though, as the Bush gave us a foretaste of its 'Burning Bush' nickname! The Baird took its place and was popular with customers.
As for the rarity of these early colour sets, it should be remembered that there weren't many Baird dealers. I certainly never knew of another one either in the town or anywhere else around. The other factor, of course, was price.
Although the cheapest 25" colour set on the market - the M700 retailed for 279 guineas (£292 19s) - that is the equivalent of around £5100 in 2017. How many sets would anybody be able to shift at prices like that today?
The Baird CTV would have been a better picture than the Bush, I don’t know what was going on at RBM at that time. They had a decent set with the BW 125 chassis then brought out the poor 135R set, the transistor 135 set was very reliable but the R version was not.
Then the CTV25 was introduced, apart from the LOPTX problem the picture was not that good, we had the Pye/Ekco CTV at that time and we sold more of those than the Bush on the picture, not that many were sold.
Interestingly, we were selling the BW transistor 135 version and holding back on the Pye BW sets due to those being poor.
You needed more than one range of sets due to the inconsistencies the manufacturers had with quality.