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Thursday 30th August 2018

We would like to introduce you to our collection of radio devices and the history behind them. Back in 1939, important events took place. Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. The Declaration of War by France and the United Kingdom was given on 3 September 1939. The speech was given by the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in Westminster. Immediately after Britain’s Declaration of War against Germany King George VI broadcast a speech to the nation. Listening in their homes people were about to find out about the challenging times that lay ahead of them.

Wireless set with a wooden veneered case and sunrise fretwork design on the front of the loudspeaker grill and four octagonal Bakelite control knobs. This radio is a Pye Model K, manufactured by Pye Radio Ltd in c.1932.


The following is the text of the speech:

In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.

For the second time in the lives of most of us, we are at war.

Over and over again, we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between ourselves and those who are now our enemies; but it has been in vain.

We have been forced into a conflict, for we are called, with our allies, to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world.

AD 36 Model round wireless in mahogany brown bakelite casing, designed by Wells Coates for Ekco in 1934.

It is a principle which permits a state, in the selfish pursuit of power, to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges, which sanctions the use of force or threat of force against the sovereignty and independence of other states.

Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right, and if this principle were established through the world, the freedom of our own country and of the whole British Commonwealth of nations would be in danger.

But far more than this, the peoples of the world would be kept in bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of the security, of justice and liberty, among nations, would be ended.

This is the ultimate issue which confronts us.  For the sake of all that we ourselves hold dear, and of the world order and peace, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge.

It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home, and my peoples across the seas, who will make our cause their own.

I ask them to stand calm and firm and united in this time of trial.

The task will be hard.  There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commend our cause to God.  If one and all be resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God’s help, we shall prevail.

May He bless and keep us all. 


The full audio can be heard on the following link:

A series of announcements by the King and Prime Minister were broadcast to the country asking police for their help in getting people to follow air precautions and wear gas masks.[1]

From that moment the British people lost peace and security in their homes.

Wood and plastic console radio set, model A30C, designed by R.D. Russell and manufactured by Murphy Radio Ltd, 1936.
Marconiphone television receiver with a 9-inch screen and three-band radio in a walnut veneered case (1938-9)


These radios from the Geffrye Museum collection date from the period of those fateful radio broadcasts.








Tijana, Volunteer Programme Digital Communication Assistant


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