Retro radios custom-fitted with up-to-the-minute gadgetry

Cool vintage sets are reinvented as ultra-smart home control hubs by a Hampshire duo

A restored Ultra radio, dating from 1947, incorporating heating, light and sound controls and finished in Balmoral red
A restored Ultra radio, dating from 1947, incorporating heating, light and sound controls and finished in Balmoral red

The valve radios made in the early part of the last century may not have worked all that well, but aesthetically they were magnificent. These sturdy yet often streamlined structures in wood, Bakelite or steel are the focus of Hampshire-based radio restorers Jim Beveridge and Peter Carr, who not only sell vintage sets (from £100) that have been returned to their former glory, but also turn 1930s-onwards examples into what they call “modern works of art”. Each classic design is gutted of its valve technology and fitted with the latest circuitry to fashion it into a one-off smart hub with Alexa, Siri, streaming services, internet radio and whatever custom home control gadgetry a client favours – along with shiny rejuvenated bodywork to match one’s kitchen units. 

A vintage Marconi set-turned-smart hub
A vintage Marconi set-turned-smart hub

“We approach restoration commissions using modern materials, but with the goal of preserving as much as possible of the heart and soul of the original design,” says Beveridge, adding that they use a combination of custom system design and electronics skills alongside modern handpainting and printing techniques to create their masterpieces – a process that typically costs around £500. 

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“We recently overhauled a 1947 Ultra radio for a Scottish couple who wanted to preserve this family heirloom,” says Carr. “We discussed position, colour and functionality, and they opted to incorporate heating, light and sound controls into the final restoration. Balmoral red was chosen to match the room fabrics with a nod to their Scottish heritage. The cream face-plate and knobs were brought back to their original glory using special sustainable cleaning techniques suited to these vintage materials.”

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