My links with one of the greatest inventors of the 20th century

Pictured above, this classic Murphy Radio Ltd  television from yesteryear is on sale for 150 at GB Antiques Centre
Pictured above, this classic Murphy Radio Ltd television from yesteryear is on sale for 150 at GB Antiques Centre
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Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at the small screen...

So Strictly Come Dancing is well under way and that’s it in my household for the next however many weeks! My wife and daughter will not be moved between the “Strictly hours” whilst I make tea and generally try and stay out of the way!

It’s become almost a routine for the autumn now and I know many other families up and down the country are the same. It’s hard to think of a time when a Saturday night didn’t involve sitting around the television as family: Generation Game, Blind Date and, more recently, X Factor and Strictly.

TV is a subject close to my heart, as (and I’m not sure if a lot of people know this) I am actually related to the late, great John Logie Baird!

My grandmother’s younger brother was John Logie Baird, born in 1888, who was one of the greatest inventors of the 20th century. He was the first engineer to show TV pictures to the world and later the first colour TV pictures.

There are loads of stories I could share, but there’s enough for another article, so we’ll start at 1906 when he went to Glasgow’s College to study engineering. But John’s real passions were cameras, cars, telephones and wirelesses. In 1923, he moved to Hastings to work on his invention of the “Seeing Wireless”. By 1925 he had sent pictures of a ventriloquist’s dummy from Selfridges to the BBC Studios in London.

In 1927 he sent pictures from London to Glasgow by phone line and, within 12 months, he had successfully sent colour pictures. In 1931 he made a TV camera using his moving discs process.

Unfortunately for John, there were eight other inventors working on TV pictures. In 1937 John sadly lost out to an electronic system pioneered by Marconi. The system was backed with money from GEC. John couldn’t compete, losing out on his hoped-for fortunes.

John continued trying new ideas as well as building electronic TVs under the Baird brand. John Logie Baird died of a stroke in 1948 aged 59 whilst he was still working with the BBC. My middle name is Baird and it is a constant reminder of my great uncle who was a truly great inventor with a passion for television.

My love of antiques is fuelled by these great links to the past. I love to think that I am buying, restoring and selling pieces that my ancestors had some sort of a hand in. When old televisions and

radios come into the centre I do have a moment of pride.

More on TVs next week.