Home:  Components: WIRELESS ACCUMULATOR, 1940's


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2 Volt accumulator used in wireless sets for the heaters of the valves. It was normally given to the local garage, hardware merchant, or cycle shop for recharging. They would give you your spare unit while this was being done.

Your comments:

  • Getting so excited listening to Fanny Blankers-Koen in a race - must have been Olympics soon after WW2 - on Nan's accumulator wireless. we had to take it somewhere every now and again for it to be recharged, or whatever.
    .......... Joan Remnant, Orpington, Kent, 8th of February 2024

  • I was born in 1942and spent much of my young years in the company of my grandparents who had an accumulator wireless in which we listened to Mrs Dale’s Diary, Workers Playtime, Billy Cotton’s Band show and many more such programmes including Dan Dare pilot of the future.The local hardware store used to come round weekly to deliver recharged accumulators. We didn’t get the electric until 1953.
    Irene Digney, formerly of Wimbish, Saffron Walden, Essex
    .......... Irene Digney, Alicante, Spain, 24th of December 2023

  • I was born in 1947 (Sunbury, Middx,). I remember going at the age of four or five with my mother to the hardware shop to exchange the accumulator.
    .......... Gerald Turner, Zbraslav, Czechia, 2nd of December 2023

  • I remember my father used to talk about being sent to a local shop to refresh the accumulator so the family could listen to the radio.

    He was born in 1923, so this was probably at the start of the 1930's

    This was coming out of recession in Glasgow, Scotland.
    .......... Hugh McManus, Dunfermline, Scotland, 20th of March 2023

  • I was born in 1944 and when I was about 5 I can remember my mum walking to the local Garage on a Saturday with the accumulator and collecting her spare she had two 2volt 40 ampere hour accumulators, when I was six i started to collect one and leave one on charge bur at sometime the radio stopped working so she took it in for repair and they said that there was nothing wrong with it but it would not work so she rented a set at 1/6 pence a week the same as the cost of charging the batteries. at sometime in the 60s I had a look at it and eventually went into the lid, after many hours of searching I found it. There was a broken spot in the frame Ariel just enough to stop it working.
    Arthur Phillips, Lancashire

    .......... Arthur Phillips, Warton Preston Lancashire, 24th of August 2022

  • I was born in 1936 and used to spend time with my grandparents in a village called Bonby in Lincolnshire, I can remember going to the only shop in Bonby with the accumulator to exchange it, I remember it being very heavy.
    .......... Jean Roberts, Scunthorpe, Lincs. England, 27th of May 2022

  • I was born in 1936 in a South Warwickshire hamlet. The accumulator was exchanged weekly by a local garage owner in his van. They were not allowed on the local busses. Over use entailed waiting for the van. Happy days with Vera Lynne, Monday night at eight o,clock, Palm Court and BBC News which really was news. Blackout and you could see your way in the dark with the glow from the Milky Way. Happy memories from scary times. Heaven help you if you forgot your gas mask at school.J and I village school where we were all in one room and every day started with the times table all reciting out loud together. Boys to 11 and girls to 14/15. I can remember writing 1942 in my school book.

    you if you forgot your gas mask.
    .......... Ron Foster , Nr Shipston on Stour, 14th of January 2022

  • IN the late 1940's I had a Saturday job as a gopher in Mr Williams's Radio shop near Craiglockhart Station in Edinburgh (Mr W was exempt from war service as he had had polio, and had a bad limp). He charged accumulators off a huge panel of wires and brass topped switches mounted on the back wall of the workshop. The vent caps were unscrewed to allow the gas to escape during the charging process, and were often lost or misplaced, so any old cap that would fit the thread was fitted. Complaints weren't tolerated (customer service? what customer service?) - complainants were told in no uncertain terms to take their batteries elsewhere (except that there wasn't anyone near anyway.) I learned a lot about customer relations from Mr W - never take the blame, never apologise, always blame the customer, and as a last resort threaten to call the police.
    .......... Michael Asbury, Pewsey, Wiltshire, 23rd of November 2021

  • Back in about 1955 we lived on a near derelict farm near Penistone . My sister and I aged 6 and 5 were tasked with carrying 2 of these heavy monsters about 1.1/2 miles to The Flouch Engineering Company garage at the end of the Woodhead Pass in Yorkshire every Saturday and collecting the charged replacements. They were used to run the old wireless as we had no electricity ( or gas or running water for that matter) I'm not sure of there weight but it was considerable and necessitated several stops along the way

    .......... Richard Elder, Waltham , North East Lincolnshire, 25th of October 2021

  • I remember my grandad, long after he retired, charging accumulators in Talacre, North Wales in the 1950’s. For quite a long time, people there did not have mains electricity. My Grandad generated his own electricity using a second hand boat-motor he bought from a man in Rhyl. The accumulators were charged in his shed. Even more amazing, he didn’t even have mains water - he gathered his own water supply in a collection of huge tanks. I remember he had 2x240 gallon one and 2x60 gallon tanks and half a dozen others.

    Before he retired he had set up and run Shannon’s Radio Ltd in Urmston near Manchester. He too, like Curry’s had been in the bike trade - and also had the first motor garage in Urmston - before WW1.
    .......... Stephen Shannon, England, 4th of October 2021

  • My nana grew up in Manchester before and during WWII. She used to tell me how she would have to go get the battery acid for her family's radio refilled. Their house didn't have electricity then.
    .......... Craig Carpenter II, Huntington, West Virginia, 30th of September 2021

  • I remember taking them to be charged. They would charge the ones you brought to them the week before. Then charge the spent ones for collection the next week. I think the charge, was ten old pence for each accumulator.
    .......... Colin Hall, Great Yarmouth., 14th of September 2021

  • Just been chatting to my dad (born 1925) who used to assist in his dad's shop in Stepney pre WWII. He's currently a bit confused over the process with DC charging on one side of the shop and AC on the other. He remembers having 9v on thermionic valves in the process but as the radios were US imports, it's caused him to conclude that 12v accumulators were being carried from shop to home! I've read the memories here and hopefully can help him clarify his memory later on today.
    .......... Mark Reeder, Hornchurch, 27th of June 2021

  • Born in 1939 I had a Saturday job in the early 1950's at Portland Radio and Cycle shop in Smethwick and one of my tasks was connecting up the accumulators customers brought in for charging. Every customer had two - one to charge and one to use. The acid was checked for specific gravity and topped if necessary and the accumulators were all coupled up in series to the power source and the charging current set to the appropriate level.
    .......... David Youngman, David Youngman, 22nd of June 2021

  • We never needed an accumulator as we had wireless on a relay system but my Uncle Reg who lived round the back needed two of them. He must have had a 4 volt version and I was employed to carry them up two hills. Everything was in twos at their house. It was only possible to listen to certain favourite programs such as news and comedy otherwise it would have been a full time job running up and down hills. I guess that is why we had a wireless relay system. 😳😳
    .......... Kevin Ward, Todmorden, Lancs, 19th of November 2020

  • I was born in 1938 when most wireless sets needed an ACCUMULATOR.My gran used to take it to be charged to Curry's the cycle shop where they did an exchange service you took a charged one and left yours with them.
    Not quite on the same subject the local electrician went round on a cycle with the battery mixture and topped up the bell systems in big houses where they still had servants.
    Those were the days.
    .......... John Baldwin, Watford Herts., 16th of November 2020

  • I was born in 1939. I clearly remember the accumulator. The early 50's having to take a bus to recharging shop on a Saturday morning. All haste to get replacement and to get home in time to listen to "Dick Barton, special agent". Recently reminded as now showing on Talking Pics channel on TV. Of course back in those days we had to imagine the looks of the characters. The signature tune brought back the memories. Can remember being banned from getting on buses with the acid jars. Suddenly dangerous to be transporting them. How innocent we were in those days.
    .......... Maria Groot, Orpington, 16th of November 2020

  • In the early 50 ‘S I remember riding up to the cycle shop to swap a used accumulator for a fully changed one a glass jar full of acid ! riding home with it swinging from my handle bars ! And at no time did anyone say “ you be careful with that now”. !!!
    Carefree days

    .......... John , Ely Cambridge , 28th of October 2020

  • In 1950 lived in houses with no electric power'. Went to Chelmsford market and bought old battery radios for about 2 bob or so.
    They ran on 2v accumulator winner 120v battery and often grid bias batteries. 120V used to last about 3mths 2v accumulator about a week depending on use Mum listened to Mrs Dale diary Dad The Archers, me Jet Morgan Journey into space!! and on Sundays Forces Favourites with Jean Metcalf. I built a one valve radio using batteries but had to wait till mum and dad gone to bed to "Borrow"the HT battery and accumulator to power it!! Happy days in the 50's got Mains power in 1960.
    .......... Peter Moore, Palmerston North New Zealand, 11th of December 2019

  • these were still In use by some people for their wireless where I lived in West Hartlepool until early 1960's. They were recharged at the local bicycycle shop which was Bill Stotts in Murray street
    .......... rob best, gateshead uk, 22nd of October 2019

  • I used to take my fathers accumulator to get it charged each Saturday morning, to a garage about one mile from our home in Swanwick, Hampshire. Late 40's I think. I rode my old bicycle, steering one handed whilst holding the accumulator in the other hand. I also had to collect our egg ration from the local egg packing station nearby. Not too bad but not so good when any rotten eggs from the previous week had to be returned, hopping to get some in place.
    .......... John Lane, Bridport Dorset, 8th of January 2019

  • My husband's first job in Gerrards Cross Bucks, was setting up and charging these batteries when he left school at 14 in 1941 at the electrical shop. After a bit his mother found his clothes were full of holes so she marched down to the shop and demanded that he be given an apron to protect his clothes, a large rubber one was provided. He is nearly 91 and has many memories of those long ago times!
    .......... Judy Williams, Cranbrook, Kent, 31st of December 2018

  • My Grandfather had a shop in Hanwell, West London. S.J. Dowell & Son, Electrical Engineer. He manufactured his own Radio Accumulator, sold them to customers and recharged them. His trademark was a capital 'D' with an owl inside. He died in 1923 aged 32 following a fire at the shop. My Grandmother had one which I saw, but I don't know what became of it.
    .......... John Dowell, York, UK, 18th of November 2018

  • It seemed very heavy to carry, I remember listening to Dick Barton special agent!

    .......... Sylvia, Stevenage, 17th of May 2018

  • As a young in Horsham I used to have to purchase paraffin from a local store. It had wooden floor boards and reeked of paraffin. The owner used to have shelves of these accumulators charging up in the shop! Surprised it never went up in flames!

    .......... Mike Reeves, Worcester (was Horsham, Sussex) , 22nd of May 2017

  • I read in a 1932 newspaper a case of suicide committed by drinking the contents of one of these. Its what lead me here to see what such an item was as I had no idea what it was.
    .......... Caroline, Spain, 26th of July 2016

  • I am pleased to see that some people remember that in the days of the accumulator we did not have radios, we had wirelesses. We collected our recharged accumulator each week from a bicycle repair shop in Poole High Street, not far from the Railway Station, for which we were charged 6d. That was in the days of the Home Service, Light Programme and Third, when life was so much simpler but no less enjoyable. For those of us in the West of England we listened to The Luscombes, not The Archers, but we too were simple country folk.
    .......... Adrian Danson, Bromley, England, 10th of April 2016

  • I dont remember accumulators but.what happy people they were. Much happier than those awful kids of today with their phones. Mum had a big leather battery radio when we were kids in the sixties. We took it everywhere.
    .......... jane, crowborough, uk, 2nd of March 2016

  • 'Wireless accumulator' is a bit too specific.

    I remember 2-volt lead-acid accumulators similar to this being standard items in my school physics laboratory (1959/1966). They were used as DC sources for 'metre-wire potentiometer' experiments and for powering low voltage lamps for ray-optics experiments. It was the laboratory technician's duty to make sure they were kept charged.
    .......... H J Hill, Settle, North Yorkshire, UK, 5th of February 2016

  • yes I remember the accumulators. Taking them every Saturday to be charged. We had two, one large and one small. One was always at the garage being charged. I think it cost threepence for the small and sixpence for the large. We especially made sure it was charged for top twenty on a Sunday evening. Other favourite programmes were Dick Barton special agent. Have a go, with Wilfred Pickles, Workers Playtime on a Saturday morning, Educating Archie. I could go on and on.
    .......... Joyce Bates nee spragg, Westonzoyland. Somerset.England. now Evesham Worc., 19th of September 2015

  • I grew up in South London during WWII and we had was a wireless that used an accumulator. When the battery ran out we used to take the empty one to a local shop for a replacement. Can you imagine letting a 10 year old being allowed carry an acid battery today? My brother used to make crystal sets with a cats whisker and they actually worked. I feel privileged to have lived during those times as it truly makes me appreciate what we all have today.
    .......... Ann Gordon, Taneytown, MD USA, 28th of April 2015

  • As an apprentice TV & Radio reparer in 1954 in a rural location, one of my jobs was to look after the charging of customers accumilators, I can still remember the smell of the acid fumes and what an unpleasant job that was.
    .......... Peter Derham, Portsmouth England, 31st of December 2014

  • I, too recall taking our accumulator to be recharged, in Hulme, Manchester, in the 40's. We did have electric lighting at the time but I guess this was not a compatible source. This chore was shared with another task to go to the gasworks and queue to get a bag of coke. I feel a Monty Python sketch coming on!!
    .......... PETER RODGERS, Clanfield, Hampshire, 10th of August 2014

  • During WW2 my Mum wanted to know the news, so we bought a radio. We lived in Worthing and had to take our accumulator on the bus to Basingstoke on a Saturday afternoon to be recharged. There was a little shop on London Street. It was heavy but we didn't seem to notice.
    .......... Gladys Barber, Fleet, Hampshire, 24th of May 2014

  • I started work 1945 charging banks of about 35 2 volt accumulators on legg chargers,topping them up with distilled water .I had a rubber apron as my overalls went to shreds.Also re-plating ,washing out ,melting the pitch fitting new plates and separators.delivering to around 300 customers weekly exchange .6pence per week also selling 120 volt high tension batteries [Exide,Oldham,Vidor and Siemens 8/6p or weekly
    .......... gordon caunt, kirkby in ashfield nottinghamshire , 10th of April 2014

    .......... FRANK ARMSTRONG, CONSETT CO DURHAM, 7th of February 2014

  • My first job before an apprenticeship was at Baglan Auto Electrical Co Ltd at Baglan, Port Talbot, U.K
    Baglan Auto was the local agent for Exide batteries and part of my duties was to sell Exide Grid Bias batteries and accept and issue Exide acid accumulators for charging, on a one in, one out basis.
    This continued in this Gas only locality until the 1950s when mains electric was installed.

    .......... Vernon, Neath, 23rd of January 2013

  • In the early 1950's we lived on the outskirts of a village that was not served by electricity. The only means of powering a radio was via an accumulator. Such was the demand for them that an electrical shop in the nearest town (that had 12" Bush and KB TV's in it's windows) ran a mobile service whereby the accumulators were collected by van and exchanged for fully charged ones each Saturday.
    .......... Keith Kerrison, Bingley, West Yorkshire., 27th of December 2012

  • My dad was an apprentice at Ken Trow Cycles,Balaam St,Plaistow,E.London.One of his tasks,was to deliver the fully charged accumulators back to the owners,this was done by motorcycle,with the accumulators carried on the flat-bedded side-car.
    .......... Graham Spraggins., Romford,Essex, 23rd of October 2012

  • Back in the 50's when I was very small, I came upon one of these at my grandmother's, and took it to the adults to ask what it was. (It was fairly heavy, even the glass was quite thick.) They simply told me that the contents were nasty and I should leave it alone. When someone came outside a few minutes later to see what I was doing, they discovered that I had unscrewed the filler cap and poured out all the acid into a drain. Their warning had backfired: I had decided that if the contents were nasty, something jolly well ought to be done about it, so did my good deed and duly got rid of the stuff...!
    .......... Robert J. Sutherland, Aberdeen, Scotland, 17th of August 2012

  • My father was an agent for Phillips Radios in the 1940s Their headed note paper used by my Dad advertised their slogan" Simply years ahead" in raised red writing. We had an small outbuilding where people brought their batteries to be recharged and I was allowed to help by putting them on shelves and carrying them out to customers. Children were trusted in this era to take care and follow instructions from their elders - I didn't have any accidents with the acid or electricity! Today in a time of Health and Safety Legislation children aren't exposed to such risks and maybe are irresponsible and more accident prone as a result!
    .......... Frances Lilley, Derby, England, 20th of July 2012

  • I have memories of Mum carrying the accumulator under my brother's pram,to the village, to get it charged at the local garage Circa 1953. We had a "state of the art" push button wireless - very flash!
    .......... Neil McGregor, Safety Bay, Western Australia, 6th of March 2012

  • I was born in 1939 in North London, but moved to Cornwall shortly after. My grand parents lived in North London and towards the end of the war mum took me to visit them occasionally. They had two accumulators which I took to an electrical shop for recharging collecting two recharged accumulators for the return journey. A return journey of about quarter of a mile. Boy, were they heavy. Imagine the weight for a four year old to carry. Granddad gave me a sixpenny piece for the recharging price. Recharging two cost five and a half pence. Next door was an off-license which sold individual large thick arrowroot biscuits, displayed in a big glass jar on the counter. They were a halfpenny each. The temptation was too great, so each time I took accumulators for recharging I bought a biscuit with the halfpenny, eating this on the way back to their house with plenty of rests because of the weight of the accumulators. Funny thing was Granddad never asked for the halfpenny change.
    .......... Cliff Bennett, Hastings. East Sussex., 21st of January 2012

  • I remember these glass accumulators. in the late 1940s I used to take our one on my way to school. I used to go in the back gate of our local baker and on a large wall with shelf's all the accumulators where charging away with wires everywhere. And large carboys of acid in wire frames with straw round the glass. then on my way home I would collect another one to take back home. I was about 7 years old at the time and looked forward to my dad connecting up and us listening to (Dick Barton Special Agent on the wireless) One day I collected an accumulator from the baker and it was very heavy so I held it close to my chest. But when I got home my jumper had turned a brown colour and when I brushed the jumper it fell apart as did part of my shirt. So I ended up with a thick ear for ruining my clothes
    Happy days (really)
    .......... Mike Dennington, Kent, 24th of July 2011

  • I was born in 1939. Bombed out of Bristol, we went to live in Marshfield, 12 miles east. The village had no electricity, so we relied on the 'wireless' for immediate news.
    I remember the weight of these accumulators! As a little boy I could hardly lift them, and there was always my mother's worry about acid spilling from them. The 'accumulator man' came every Tuesday to swap our flat accumulators for recharged ones, reconnecting us with world events. If we'd been invaded on a Monday, Marshfield would have been among the last to know!
    There was also what, to my eyes, was a huge 100 volt(?) solid battery with lots of alternative connecting sockets ranged along one side, and a 'grid bias', the function of which was, and remains, a mystery.
    .......... Tom McCahill, Radstock, Bath & North-East Somerset, 18th of February 2011

  • I remember going to live with my grandfather in the Forest of Dean in 1953 and as he still didn't have electricity we rented a radio and an accumulator in time for the coronation and I can remember just how heavy the accumulator was to carry to the shop for recharging on a Saturday morning!
    .......... Jane, Yeovil, 5th of September 2010

  • I was born in 1936 therefore it was around the time when I was about 6 yr s old (1942) that I remember going each Saturday with my Aunt to take my grandmothers wireless accumulator to a local hardware shop to have it charged and being given a spare one until we went the next Saturday to collect it, this was something I remember doing each Saturday. Such happy memories
    .......... R.M. Grime, Stockport England, 14th of August 2010

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