The Roberts Radio Company is one of the few remaining names from the heyday of the British electronics industry. Roberts established a reputation for quality, as well as producing some outrageously expensive radios in solid gold and mink covered cases. Today the Company produces top quality radio receivers in modern and traditional designs. The Revival 250 (R250), is similar in style to the RT1 from the 50s, pictured above.
Robert Radio - history
Harry Roberts and Leslie Bidmead founded the Roberts Radio Company in 1932. Roberts quickly established a reputation for quality, selling sets to top stores such as Harrods and Army and Navy. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, bought a Roberts Radio for Princess Elizabeth (now HM The Queen) and later for herself. Roberts won the Royal Warrant in 1955, which it still holds today.
Roberts' first transistor model was the RT1 launched in 1958. It was a well-made set, with a plywood box and covered with leather cloth. One of the designs was gold stars and dots, as seen on the Roberts Radio on this page, above and right. The RT1 was not Britain's first transistor set; the Pam 710, launched in 1956, beat Roberts to that accolade.
The Roberts RT1 was mounted on a small, plastic turntable, which allowed the listener to rotate the receiver to pick up the best signal. This was a feature of quality radio receivers of the time. The original RT1 ceased production in 1965.
Roberts Radios followed the style of the era. In the early 70s, the cases were finished in teak, which was the fashion for quality radio sets.
Another link Roberts Radio had with HM The Queen was provided from an unusual source. Radio sets with VHF aerials were banned in HM Prisons, as the aerial could be used as a weapon. The Roberts Rambler 2, which received only medium wave and long wave and was also built to take hard knocks, was an obvious choice for the discerning prisoner!
Roberts Revival 250
Roberts struggled to stay in business in the 1980s and early 1990s. A chance choice of prop in a Martini commercial, however, changed the brand's fortunes.
An advertisement for Martini, featured one of the original 1950s Roberts sets. It attracted a huge amount of interest, Hundreds of people telephoned the Company to find out if the radio was still available. Harry's son Richard (Dick) Roberts reintroduced the original Roberts RT1 design as the 'Revival' in 1991. His original idea was to sell five hundred sets as a limited edition. Demand for the Roberts Revival was massive and he sold four thousand sets in the first year, in spite of the price tag of over 100.
The Revival was the ideal product for Roberts. Before the Revival, Roberts' range of radios appealed to an increasingly older market. Its classic 70s style sets had received an unhelpful modernisation, making them neither classic, nor modern. They were now something like a pair of classic brogues with modern rubber soles.
Sadly Richard Roberts died in 1991 and the business was put up for sale. Roberts was bought by the electrical giant, the Glen Dimplex Group, in 1994 and Leslie Burrage, a man with forty years' experience in consumer electronics, became its new head. He saw the appeal of the Revival and extended its market by adding new designs and colours.
Now, like the Roberts RT1, the Roberts Revival 250 is available in a variety of colours and patterns. There are some exciting designs such as this psychedelic pattern by Paul Smith, above. Roberts has also embraced the digital revolution and sells digital versions of the classic Roberts Revival, the Revival DB60 in a classy, piano black finish.
More on Roberts Radio
Roberts Radio website: www.robertsradio.co.uk
Your comments on Roberts Radio
"I have owned the Revival 250 in red followed by the Gemini 8 and now the RD60 green. The latter is probably my favorite as it has a clear but natural sound reminiscent of a good valve table radio. The Revival 250 with discreet circuitry had good sensitivity and selectivity but the treble produced glare which could be tiring if listening close" Peter Burgess
"I have just restored an RT1, believe it may be one of the first series. The components are entirely British-made - almost a who's who of the British electronics manufacturing industries that have sadly all disappeared. Still trying to find a suitable battery for it!" Stuart Goodall
"I am the proud owner of the original RT1 .
Still looking and sounding good ." Sergeant Flynn 23/08/2011
"Hi there I am desperately looking to purchase Paul Smith Roberts radio in the swirl pattern, can you help at all please.
Alison" Alison 12/02/2012
"Hi I really would like one of the Paul smith swirl radio's can you help me!
Thanks Joanne" Joanne 22/05/2012
"I have a few radios made by "Hacker" in Maidenhead England, the best money could buy in late 60's until late 70's. Similar look to Roberts, but electronically superior. Unfortunately this company, like many others, folded due to competition from the Far East." Scott 24/08/2016
"I own a 1966 Roberts in tan. it still works perfectly in 2017. the sound quality is clear and true. they were certainly built to last. I am still very fond of Roberts radio." mark jones 18/03/2017
"I have collected fifty Roberts radios dating from 1962 (R200) TO 2016 (play 10 DAB/FM) and am still collecting today, filling in the gaps in my collection that exist between the year 2001 and 2013. I find eBay to be the best source of reliable second-hand Roberts radios, whilst acknowledging that other sources are available." Richard John Cooper 16/07/2017
"Modern Roberts radios are not of the same standard as the older British-made models were. Having said that, back in the day they were never as good as Hacker or indeed Grundig. ITT made some excellent radios as well." Paul 31/05/2018
"i have a roberts revival model R550 with a serial no 314074 i would like to know how old it is ,and the date of manufacture" alan jones 13/09/2019
"We are the proud owners of 4 Roberts radios we were very good friends of Leslie Bidmeads wife Elsie who had one of the models we have named after her. They built a beautiful home in Burwood Park
In Surrey in the Late 1950s /1960s we visited her until her death in 2006 when the house was sold and demolished." David Hiscox and Peggy Hiscox 10/11/2020