03 January 2014

Gerry Wells - Valveman

The British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum, Dulwich, is housed in the home in which its creator, Gerry Wells, was born in 1929. Gerry has spent his life in the world of radio and television, building them from scratch (including his WADAR brand), repairing them, stealing them, and collecting them.

His interest in everything electrical started at age four, and truly amounts to the Obsession that is the title of his fascinating autobiography. The museum commenced in 1974, when it was focused on wireless - it has subsequently expanded into 405-line television.

Many of the vintage TVs on show are in full working order, fed via standards converters. These include that used by the BBC to convert from 625 to a transmittable 405 lines, when they were running dual standards - being the size of a double wardrobe, this is appropriately housed in Gerry's bedroom.

This and the kitchen are the only rooms of a normal domestic character. The rest of the house is full to the gunwales with vintage wireless and TV sets. There's a room of 1920s equipment (top), one largely of Ekcos (second photo), another of early transistor portables (third photo), and yet another partly fitted out as a period wireless repair shop (above).

It doesn't end there though. At the end of the garden is a series of interlinked sheds, one with a clerestory roof, all built by Gerry. These are also full of sets, grouped by manufacturer, and of display cabinets of various components; and house Gerry's workshop. In all, a staggering 1,300 sets are on display.

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