Alan Drake

My first job in 1955

By Alan Drake

Photo:Demonstrating a television at Lyon and Hall

Demonstrating a television at Lyon and Hall

From the private collection of Andy Grant

Hoping to learn trade

After leaving Whitehawk Secondary Boys School in 1955, my first job was at Lyon & Hall, 92, Western Road Brighton, I worked in the radio and television department on the first floor of the building. I started as an “Improver”; this in theory, meant that the company would teach you a trade. In my case I was supposed to learn to become a radio and television salesman; in the beginning it meant that you would do whatever they asked you to do.

My original aspiration, when joining Lyon and Hall was to work my way up to training as a radio television engineer, this did not happen

I was a 'dogsbody'

I had to do all the usual ‘dogsbody’ tasks which included dusting the showroom stock of radios, radiograms and televisions. I helped to rearrange the showroom which involved hauling stock either up stairs to the showroom, or down stairs to the van for delivery. In some cases I had to go with the delivery drivers, particularly if there were stairs involved at the other end. I actually learned very little about being a salesman, but I did become an expert in how to lift very bulky and heavy radiograms and television sets.

A new job at Lanes Radio

Eventually I heard of a more inspiring vacancy and  joined another company in Gardner Street by the name of Lanes Radio Ltd. Lanes Ltd were a somewhat unique company, in that they supplied kits for build-your-own FM tuners and amplifiers. They also sold a vast range of  individual components for the radio enthusiast and constructor; the term DIY had not yet been coined. I stayed there for several years and learnt a great deal by handling the hundreds of electronic component parts and delving into the workings of equipment.

Do you remember?

Did you ever shop at Lyon and Hall? When did you get your first TV? Did you ever own one of those posh 'radiograms'? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

This page was added on 01/06/2014.
Comments about this page

Yes I remember Lanes Radio. I used to purchase the component parts for electronic  projects that used to be illustrated in Popular Electronics - I think that was the name of the magazine.  I would have been  about  11  or 12 at the  time. I also remember making the classic  one valve  radio after succeeding the construction of the crystal set. On completion I would listen  to Radio  Luxembourg under the bed covers with ear phones into the late night. I also remember Lanes having the equipment for checking radio valves which I used to salvage from old radios, this  taught me  a great  deal  about  what would now be considered the  old  pioneering days of electronics, however I finished  up  becoming an Electrical Engineer  and  embarked  on a career in  sales  and  marketing within the industry.   

By Joe Mann (01/06/2014)

During the petrol rationing brought on by the Suez Crisis 1956/7, I worked for a short while for Goodsells who had premises at 40 Gardner Street. They manufactured high quality radio tuners and amplifiers and had contracts to make special units for many of the schools in Sussex and elsewhere. The designs they used were by Williamson from Wireless World. Most of the work was done on their own premises but the radio chassis' were supplied with the holes for the valve bases already punched out and the special reverse engraved tuner dials, which was a new idea at the time, were also bought in. I built my own MA5 amp while working there and to test it I bought the loudest record I could find from Barnards in St George's Road, 'Rock Around the Clock' by Bill Haley & His Comets! Barnards sold records and were radio & television dealers and I remember the crowds outside their shop watching the Coronation on the TVs displayed in the window as most private television reception was poor in Brighton due to the Downs being in the way of the signal; you had to have at least a twenty foot pole on the roof for your aerial! When petrol rationing was over I returned to the motor trade but still had radio as my hobby.

By Tim Sargeant (03/06/2014)

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.