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Anonymous
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Has anyone heard of J & M Stone, a radio retailer from the 50' 60's. They are reported to have merged with Civic and had over 100 stores. I quote from Radio Radio page 166 "While many individual retailers carried on with single premises, the post-war years saw a great expansion of retail chains with firms like J & M Stone. (fig 273)and Civic Radio Services, who merged in the mid 1950's into a chain of over 100 Branches spread throughout the country."

I seen to remember an organisation called Stones, in and around the Basildon area, was this the same.
I believe there was also a motor dealer called Stones as well.

Does anybody remember the Radio Retailer "Civic" they sold imported radios from places like Hungry.

I made this post some time ago, https://www.radios-tv.co.uk/community/radio/civic-r4501-111/

Any further help or information would be welcome.

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Topic starter Posted : 01/05/2015 6:24 pm
ianj
 ianj
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Yes, basically what you've posted is it in a nutshell- civic radio sets were sold by civic stores as a badged product; later, I presume in Stones stores too. The late push button sets were the same as Hungarian-made and imported sets sold in Littlewoods home shopping catalogues as " Carmen" ( heated rollers fame) badged sets. Unitra also rings a bell.......Some of these valve sets were still being sold new in 1974. ( mind you, a valve tv from ferguson was made until 1979!)

I wonder if they were taken over by Ketts, or Laskys? Both of those went in the late 80's if I recall

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Posted : 01/05/2015 6:30 pm
Anonymous
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Hi
I wonder if J & M Stone was the same as the motor dealer of the same name. Was the brand "Civic" exclusive to the dealer Civic. What about the name Emstone and Emsonette radios does any one recall these.

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Topic starter Posted : 01/05/2015 10:31 pm
peter10tv
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J & M Stone (John And Max) Stone was were immigrants into this country, and began by selling flint gas lighters in markets. Stone was an anglicized version of their foreign name of which I cannot remember.
From little acorns do large oaks grow and they amassed over 100 shops. After selling out, Max Stone bought six London East-End shops as a wedding present for his son Francis Stone, calling them 'Universal Radio'. These were increased to over sixteen shops, mainly in London, but included High Wycombe, Guildford, Hitchin and Guildford. Liquidation reared its ugly head in 1976 over VAT arrears and all the shops were closed, I being kept on until the bitter end servicing and selling the residual stock.
In my earlier years with the firm (1962-) I can remember Max Stone alighting from his large black Rolls Royce, wearing a large thick overcoat and a Homburg hat, this in the thick of winter with a thick layer of snow on the ground, storming into the large workshop and turning off all the heating saying it was a waste of money! That same day complaining that the workshop was untidy and in his bad-tempered attempt to remedy this, pushed a 21" Pye Panorama television, this with its back off, under the bench knocking off the end of the tube! Without any concern he stormed back to his Rolls and left.
Peter

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Posted : 02/05/2015 10:25 am
turretslug
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J & M Stone (John And Max) Stone was were immigrants into this country, and began by selling flint gas lighters in markets. Stone was an anglicized version of their foreign name of which I cannot remember.

Stein? It wasn't unusual for immigrants who wished their "foreign-ness" to be less obvious to adopt a name that was at least phonetically/alliteratively similar to their original family name, if for no other reason than to make it more instinctive to remember.

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Posted : 02/05/2015 1:02 pm
Brian Cuff
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My second wife's maiden name was Rodwell which was an angliscised version of Radermacher. Her grandparents came over from Germany just before WWI. I have no idea where the new version came from!

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Posted : 02/05/2015 2:44 pm
Duke Nukem
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Here's a few ads for Civic Radio Services from the early 50's. They initially only seemed to advertise TV sales/rentals, but the 1953 ad (the latest one I have) is the first mention of also dealing with radios.

TTFN,
Jon

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Posted : 02/05/2015 4:25 pm
Anonymous
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Hi Peter and Jon
Thanks for the additional information, have you any objections to me using (some of) your words and photos in the Radio Museum to supplement the information held on J& M Stone and Civic.

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Topic starter Posted : 03/05/2015 1:00 am
peter10tv
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Hello 

None what- so-ever
Peter

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Posted : 03/05/2015 10:49 am
Duke Nukem
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No prob here too.

TTFN,
Jon

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Posted : 03/05/2015 12:08 pm
Anonymous
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Thanks

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Topic starter Posted : 03/05/2015 10:29 pm
ntscuser
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Stone's Coventry branch, Woolworth building 1953:

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Posted : 04/05/2015 12:41 am
Doghouse
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Hi,

I came across this message board researching Civic Radio Services.

I know this is an old thread, but I'd like to add a bit to it, which might prove interesting to some.

There were two companies, J&F Stone and J&M Stone. Civic was just a name on a facia, the stores belonged to J&M Stone, who in turn became  part of the Firth Cleveland Group, who curiously also owned Haywards Pickle.

My introduction to retail began at the age of 21 when I became a manager of a J&M Stone store in 1961.

This was  “Putney 1" the smaller of the two stores in Putney.

It was situated on the corner of Putney Bridge. For a small store, we were reasonably busy, but the staff consisted of just me and a young salesman.

One of our customers was the actor Clive Dunn, he lived with his wife, the actress Priscilla Morgan in a flat in Kenilworth Court, round the corner, overlooking the Thames.

He came in fairly regularly for lightbulbs etc., and if we weren't busy, he'd stay for a cup of tea. As this was long before his Dad's army days, I guess  he had quite a bit of time on his hands.

He also bought I think a tape recorder. Because I remember his cheque had, “Morgan Dunn Enterprises” on it. We never mentioned anything to do with his occupation.

A year later, I got promoted to a fairly new “Civic” store in Edmonton. In those days, the stores were self-supporting. There was me, a salesman, a young teenage girl cashier, an engineer and a driver of our van.

None of the staff were older than I.

It was a very busy store. I really enjoyed the job, the engineer and I became life-long friends. Sadly, he died two years ago.

I left in 1965, to eventually become a manager of a store of one of the major retail chain stores, and then moved into managing departmental stores and eventually Superstores.

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Posted : 23/02/2022 9:07 pm
Doghouse
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Some recollections.

It was a regular sales promotion to offer  "money off" on certain TVs, via part exchange  It could be as much as £20 on certain models. Of course, we weren't interested in the old sets, they weren't likely to be working anyway, the sets where this was offered had been bought at a discount. The policy was to take the PXs  to the tip.

However, there were some surprises. Once a Bush VHF 64 radio in perfect working condition came in. So I "recycled" it.   On another occasion it was an upright piano, I had that too.

Some of these PXd sets could be "revived," My engineer was really good at his job. So we got a good little sideline going. We had an arrangement with the barber across the road. We'd sell them to him for a few pounds and  he'd display one of these sets in his shop each week  and sell them to his customers. Between us  we made about twenty quid a month, which was a lot of money back then.

A few of the sets had dim pictures, but if they were dropped to 200v they were brighter. (Yes I know, but at that age we didn't care).

Once a month the engineer and the driver would take the rest of the PXd sets down to the tip. Our van was a new Ford Thames, I really liked that shape, now a retro classic.

The procedure was to drive the van onto the weighbridge and then back up to the tip. They'd then heave the sets out of the back on to the rest of the refuse. The tip workers would stand and watch. They'd then drive the van back onto the weighbridge for the office to calculate the charge. One month when they went into the office to pay, they noticed one of the sets they'd chucked onto the tip the previous month, was up and working on a shelf in the office!

We had a big  TV rental business, a popular set back then was the 17" Ultra 1775.

But they were notorious for rolling. A "quick fix" was to change the PCL82 valve.

We had a lot of elderly customers. One little old lady with one,  broke the control on the back of the set. She thought it was a screw that as you turned it, it rubbed against the picture and stopped it rolling. When the engineer fixed one for another old lady, it still had a partial frame collapse. He adjusted it for her. She hadn't complained as she thought the gaps top and bottom were because TV was now in "wide screen" like the cinema.

I often took my dog to work. A miniature poodle. He liked going out in the van. At other times he'd sit on the cashier's high stool in her cubicle where he could see everything. She'd be doing a bit of dusting, or polishing the reflectors of electric fires. A few  customers coming to make HP or rental payments would not notice it wasn't the usual girl sitting there as they were looking at the payment card in their hand and start to talk to him. He'd just say quietly,  "woof."

We didn't have the old-fashioned convential widows. Double doors led onto a 20ft paved area with displays either side, then the main carpeted showroom began. The dog would sometimes sit amongst the small radio displayed near the big glass window. It gave some people on the pavement looking in,  a shock when he moved.

It was a good guard dog. Sometimes when we were busy, he'd watch people coming into the shop, they could look at anything and then go out without any problems. But if they picked something up and then put it down or even touched something, he'd position himself between them and the doors,

Happy days!

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Posted : 23/02/2022 10:53 pm
Alex728, jcdaze, Nuvistor and 1 people liked
Nuvistor
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@doghouse 

Thanks for the recollections, always interesting.

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Posted : 23/02/2022 11:21 pm
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Doghouse
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In the early sixties some of our best customers were West Indian immigrants. Many moving into accommodation in the Edmonton and Tottenham area.  London Transport had had a recruitment campaign over there. These young men and women arrived to work on the buses and tube.

They were very polite and were good payers. I couldn't say that for all our customers.

Their  favourite purchase was the classic Bluespot radiogram with the cocktail cabinet in the bottom. We sold dozens.

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Posted : 23/02/2022 11:31 pm
Alex728
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Posted by: @doghouse

Their  favourite purchase was the classic Bluespot radiogram with the cocktail cabinet in the bottom. We sold dozens.

I didn't realise until today this was how "blues parties" and sound system culture developed (eventually the radiograms were replaced with DIY built sound systems) - this scene later merged into the rave scene of the 1980s/1990s..

https://townsounds.co.uk/music-style/blues-parties/

 

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Posted : 24/02/2022 12:13 am
Doghouse
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@alex728 

"Back in the day," many of these young people were living in sparsely furnished bed sits. So not much room for a rave. But I'm sure they had a good time.

This is the radiogram. Two sliding doors at the top, a pull-out turntable to the left and the radio to the right. As I recall the selling price was around 100 guineas or more as all big ticket appliances were priced.

Getting on towards two and a half thousand pounds in today's money

 

index.jpg

 

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Posted : 24/02/2022 12:33 am
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Doghouse
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At the risk of being accused of "bangin' on," I've copied an image from Google Street View of the site of the Edmonton Civic shop. The building or street hasn't changed, just the frontage.You can just about see the begining of the alleyway in College Gardens, where we could drive the van  up to our garage behind the shop.

The Subway next door was in my time, an up-market mens' tailors. The Regal cinema was further up the road on the left.A lot of pop groups appeared there in the early sixties including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  It became a bingo hall and was eventually  demolished and is now a Lidl supermarket.

Civic 2

 

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Posted : 24/02/2022 7:41 pm
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Alex728
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Posted by: @doghouse

@alex728 

"Back in the day," many of these young people were living in sparsely furnished bed sits. So not much room for a rave. But I'm sure they had a good time.

 

index.jpg

 

yes, it was only around the 1970s when the West Indian communities gathered together enough money and resources to build the larger sound systems.

This also clears up something I've wondered about for a while; why these sound systems initially often used a single turntable rather than the twin decks more commonly found on disco installations - in the spaces between the records you would get MC's chatting/toasting on a microphone, which developed into todays rap music, and sometimes a noisemaker using various home made oscillators called a dub siren (these are still built today)

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Posted : 24/02/2022 8:51 pm
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