WELCOME . . .
Gilbert Davey (1913 - 2011), the author on radio and electronics for young people, is remembered with affection and gratitude by several generations of enthusiasts to whom he opened up a rewarding hobby or a fulfilling career. Having built up a huge post-war following among readers of the Boy's Own Paper, his popularity was boosted by his television broadcasts, and by his own books (the last published as recently as 1981). Welcome to this growing resource for all who either remember building radio sets to his designs or would simply like to find out more.
This site has its origins in 2009, when I started researching Gilbert Davey's radio
writing. This began when I found most of the parts from a simple one-valve
radio set built for me by my father way back in 1957. It had been built to a
design presented by Davey on a BBC children's television magazine programme
called Studio ‘E’ - a precursor to Blue Peter. I
wanted to rebuild it! Problem was - I had long ago thrown away the leaflet
that was published for the series.
I built a "conjectural" reconstruction of the one-valver, using the original components I had kept, with new parts where necessary. In March 2010, I launched this web site (originally titled The Studio ‘E’ One-Valve Radio), which described the planning and building of this set, and threw down a challenge: "Is this right? If it isn't, prove it by coming up with the leaflet!".
It took 14 months for the right person (Doug Brown) to visit the site and send me scans of his Studio ‘E’ leaflet. With his permission and that of the BBC, I was able to make the long-lost leaflet available once more to the many enthusiasts who remembered this famous design, although the satisfaction of the achievement was tinged with sadness as it came only a few days after I had received news of Gilbert Davey's death in April 2011. The rediscovery of this famous Davey design realised my initial aim in setting up the site.
But my long-term aim was, and is, to expand the site into a wider resource for Davey devotees. In March 2012 it was re-launched with a new structure better suited for this expansion. Much new material has been added, notably to the DAVEY SOURCE PAGES >, where all listings have been expanded and (early 2015) a new page covering Davey's forgotten pre-war writing has been added. But more remains to be done!
To find out what's on the site, use the navigation buttons on the left, or go to the Site Map below. Look out for new items, flagged throughout the text (these flags are removed at the subsequent update to give way to new ones). Important additions are also listed at the top of the NEWS AND LINKS > page. When re-visiting, make sure to refresh each page.
Before I launched my site, there was little on the internet about Gilbert Davey or his radio designs. This site - and its earlier incarnation - have begun to put that right. I am proud of the praise received both for its presentation and authority of content. Just as important, my hunch was right! I have received dozens of messages from site visitors, describing in the most vivid terms - despite the passing decades - how Gilbert Davey's work served in one way or another to launch them on their radio hobbies or careers.
I am grateful to the British Library for their research resources and for permission to reproduce images, and to the rights-holding individuals, publishers and organisations (named throughout) for permissions to reproduce their material. Special thanks are due to the family and friends of Gilbert Davey himself for their support. I am grateful too for the many contributions of every sort received from site visitors. Hugh Castellan deserves particular mention for his outstanding contributions.
Whether you know Gilbert Davey's name and reputation or not, I hope you enjoy this site. If you do enjoy it, please let me know, and please pass on my URL to anyone you think might find something of interest too.
All other pages on the site are listed below.
GILBERT DAVEY – A sketch of the man who introduced radio construction to several generations of boys, many of whom became radio or communications professionals.
THE BEGINNER'S 1-VALVER - The evolution of this famous long-lived design illustrates how Davey responded to changing needs.
THE BBC SETS > - The Studio ‘E’ 1-valver and the Focus Transistor Set: downloads for these famous designs, and lots more:-
My Original Studio ‘E’ Set - Undiluted nostalgia - memories of my original Studio ‘E’ 1-valve set.
My Rebuilt Studio ‘E’ Set - Details and pictures of my Studio ‘E’ set, now rebuilt (for the second time!) largely according to the leaflet.
The Studio ‘E’ Leaflet - This famous 1957 leaflet was lost for years, but downloads are now available here - please read the copyright and usage notes on that page, and the copyright notice on this page. Comments on the leaflet and on the design itself.
The Studio ‘E’ Scripts - Extracts from the scripts preserved by Gilbert Davey himself since the one-valver series was broadcast in 1957.
Studio ‘E’ under fire! - A newly discovered series of letters from the prestigious pages of Wireless World in which Davey defends the Studio ‘E’ set's regenerative design against fears of a National Interference Crisis. These letters throw much light on Davey's approach to designing and writing for young constructors, and include a delightful evocation of the “magic” of the radio hobby by a third party coming to Davey's defence.
The Focus Transistor Set - This series raised almost as much interest as the earlier one-valver series. Downloads of the leaflet for this early Davey transistor design - please read the copyright and usage notes on that page, and the copyright notice on this page. Some stories by those who remember the series. Notes on the leaflet and the design.
My Focus Set - My recently built version of this simple set.
THE TRANSISTOR REFLEX SETS - This portable receiver clearly became very popular, as it was published seven times from 1962 to 1981. Evolution of the design, and pictures of my version, built during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.
DAVEY SOURCE PAGES > - A growing resource for those who built Davey designs years ago, or who simply wish to know more about them:-
Pre-War Writing - A developing resource detailing Davey's forgotten pre-war articles for Practical Wireless and other journals. Includes downloads for seven of Davey's pre-war PW articles - please read the copyright and usage notes on that page, and the copyright notice on this page..
The Boy's Own Paper - Complete listing of designs and articles for BOP, which won Davey a huge following among its readers.
BOP Offshoot Publications - Gilbert Davey's articles in the compendium books produced by BOP's Editor, Jack Cox.
Fun with Radio - Davey's most well-known book, which ran to six editions.
Other "Fun with . . ." Books - The other titles introduced young constructors to every aspect of the radio and electronics hobby.
YOUR DAVEY SETS - Davey designs built by contributors to this site:
Hugh Castellan's sets - Hugh has built four early Davey designs from the Boy's Own Paper, including two that could have been lost but for his efforts. Downloads with full details of these two "lost" designs, the Holiday Radio and the Simple Three-valve Radio, including the original BOP articles, are now available on this page - please read the copyright and usage notes on that page, and the copyright notice on this page.
Hugh has also constructed a Studio ‘E’ one-valver according to the leaflet - compare his set with my new rebuild! All Hugh's sets are well researched, beautifully made, and are a splendid contribution to this site.
Sets by other builders - A one-valver built by a radio construction newbie who was thrilled at the result, a splendid shortwave two-valver, two more one-valvers, a simple transistor set, and two silicon-chip-based receivers.
That's thirteen sets (plus a memory of one) at the last count. I look forward to receiving details and pictures of YOUR Davey set!
CONSTRUCTION RESOURCES - Details of two home-made coils to use in place of the all-too-scarce commercial types. One of these is published here as a download (from Boy's Own Paper material) for a versatile Davey two-band design - please read the copyright and usage notes on that page, and the copyright notice on this page.
A list of suppliers for other components, and other sources of useful information.
NEWS AND LINKS > - Latest news, links to other sites of interest, and:-
News Archive - News items more than one year old.
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