The tube came from a set that was
purchased in 1938 by my Dad's uncle Zeke, a resident of
Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England. Zeke started out with a
bicycle shop, and, in 1924, started selling radios out of
the shop. At the peak, Zeke owned three radio and TV shops.
Zeke retired and sold his last shop some considerable time
before he passed away in the 80's. The shop remained a going
concern until the 90's.
In 1938, Zeke bought a Pye 817. Ilkeston
is about 100 miles from the Alexandra Palace transmitter in
London, so television reception would have been very
difficult and unreliable. It is possible that with a large
antenna some sort of picture could have been received, but
according to my Dad, the first pictures were not received
until the late 40s, probably from the Sutton Coldfield
transmitter that began broadcasting in 1949 and was only 40
miles from Ilkeston. My Dad remembers being there when Zeke
received the first pictures. He says his Uncle Zeke built a
large antenna after the war - not sure if right after or
nearer 1949, but definitely after - and it was about 80 feet
high and at the bottom of his garden. My Dad says it had two
letter 'H' shaped aerials joined in the middle at the top of
the mast, so it looked like a letter 'H' from all
My Dad reckons the first recognizable
picture he saw on the Pye TV was of actor Alistair Sim. He
has found pictures of screen shots from one of Zeke's TV's
but cannot verify whether they were from the 817, or from a
later set that Zeke owned. He says the pictures are of Fred
Emery (large actor who had roles in such films as
Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines and The Italian
Job), a performance of Romeo and Juliet and a soccer match.
It is interesting to speculate why Zeke
bought the set. There were reports of TV reception from
locations far from London, and maybe he was hoping to
be able to receive a picture from Alexandra Palace. Maybe he
was hoping that a closer station would come on the air. Ilkeston folk weren't very affluent and made things last -
tin baths in front of the fire and all that - I can even
remember my Granddads tin bath in the outhouse in the 70's,
and Grandma baked fresh bread in a coal fired oven, and one
of my big life influences was the single car my Granddad
owned, the 1935 Austin Seven Ruby that he bought in the mid
fifties and owned till his passing in 1974 or '75.
Zeke's wife survived him by several years
but she may have gone to live in senior citizens
accommodation. The 817 was found in the attic of his house.
For some reason that still escapes me, Zeke's son-in-law
Harry (also no longer with us, unfortunately) scrapped the
817 TV and kept just the tube and the literature, and gave
them to my Dad.