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Clarke and Smith - 2


Clarke and Smith 634 Tape Recorder

The Clarke and Smith TR634 "All Transistor" recorder from 1962. A version was also marketed as the 635 the difference being the use of a Truvox deck rather then a Wearite one. Such were the demands placed on the factory, for a time they struggled to meet the demand.

The Clarke and Smith range of HI-Fi components made on a sub contracted basis for EMI, Hayes. C&S also marketed a similar range under "CSI"

Clarke & Smith 835 AM/FM Schools radio receiver circa 1966. These receivers could be run on mains or battery and delivered quite a large output.

The 88/20 schools receiver amplifier marketed during the 1960s and early 1970s this version has 4 EL84s in parallel push pull. earlier versions used EL41s and there was even a 88/25 with EL34s!

Clarke and Smith

A short history of a rather remarkable firm.............

 

Messers Clarke and Smith discuss the original Mark 1 Talking book player with C&S engineer Freddie Bellis. This photo probably dates from the mid 1950s.

When the founder of Vortexion, Sidney Brown, died in 1972, Clarke and Smith bought the firm and the manufacture of the Vortexion range of equipment continued for a time at the original site in Wimbledon. Production was eventually transferred to the Wallington site in the mid 1970s. (The Vortextion name survives to this day under Hagger Uk Ltd who are based in Letchworth, Herts). In fact the company acquired a number of small, specialised firms over the years. The markets must have been tough in the 1970s with overseas competition, Clarke and Smith however survived through this with a range of radio sets, the "Tapete" based talking book system and schools equipment. The company celebrated 50 successful years in 1996. Less then two years later The Major sadly passed away, and it was not long after that, the company was wound up. By then the company was heavily reliant on the manufacturing of equipment for the blind, and subsequent servicing. The RNIB severed the supply contract citing monopoly issues and along with the emerging digital alternatives such as extended CD's, potentially rendering the tape cartridge obsolete. It is difficult to see how such a company could have survived for as long as it did and with the many market forces and educational changes in the latter years. But survive it did for a little over 50 years. Probably one of the last traditional, indigenous UK electronic equipment manufacturer. A tribute indeed to the original founders and the many other talented people behind the success of the company.

 

The first tape based talking book machine from the late 1950s. The tape cartridge weighed a hefty 6lb and contained the replay heads etc.

The TB2000 "Tapete" based talking book player. This model was the last to be made.

The "Tapete" format was also manufactured as a recordable office dictating machine, seen here in a late 1960s version.

Service info: Remarkably little survives in the way of service information such as circuit diagrams etc. This is probably due to the fact that most of the equipment was never sold outside certain circles. Also when the factory closed down there is every probability that the company archives went straight into the skip!. Of the information I have most is in a dyeline drawing form. So if you have any technical information on Clarke and Smith and you would be willing to share it, plan sized scanning can be arranged.

Clarke and Smith SBFM25

     

The SBFM25 Schools amplifier/ receiver from the early 1960s. Designed for the larger school hall, this amplifier has a pair of EL34s for the output. The FM tuner can be switched to receive a preset choice of three stations.

   

You can download my complete 22 page article that was published in the BVWS Xmas 2008 Bulletin here as a PDF file. Clarke and Smith

 

 

 

 

 

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