The Jackson Brother’s Story

Those of us who are of mature years and most ‘home-brewers’, will have read of the return to manufacture of this long established, but recently defunct Company.

Jackson Brothers was founded in 1923 as variable capacitor (in those days, variable condenser), tuning drive and dial manufacturers. At that time there was a growing market for home construction, and they joined Wingrove and Rogers, who made items under the Polar mark. There never was a pair of people involved who were actual Jackson Brothers! The founders of the Company were the Fillmores, but there was another, unrelated Mrs. Fillmore in Lewisham, in the same area. The money for the enterprise came largely from Grandfather Fillmore, who wanted to call the Company ‘John Bull and Company’, but other relatives opposed this, and it was settled that Jackson Brothers sounded suitably British.

At first, production was of Capacitor kits in a shop in Soho for home assembly, an area that included Webbs. After a short while it was realised that it would be better to sell assembled components but through 1923/24 business was erratic. In 1932 the firm was converted to a Private Limited Company and moved to a site near London Bridge Station, from where Bush, Ekco, Murphy and Sobell were supplied. The range then included direct drive and slow motion capacitors with Straight Line Frequency and Logarithmic characteristics, and neutralising capacitors. JR capacitors were prescribed for some of the Scott-Taggart sets of the late I 930s. Also made at that time were multi-ganged tuning capacitors and ‘Dilecon’ solid dielectric capacitors, plus several designs of slow motion drives.

At the outbreak of War in 1939, JB, and Wingrove and Rogers made capacitors and tuning components in parallel for the Services but in 1941 the JB factory was destroyed in a fire raid. Production was soon resumed at new premises in Waddon, Croydon, on the site of the old Beddington Airfield and part of the site remained in use for R & D until 1992.
After the War things became difficult. Home construction tended to use the huge amount of Surplus equipment that came on the market at rock-bottom prices (oh blissful days!) and the relationship with Wingrove and Rogers reverted to normal competition. Purchase Tax hampered home sales and business remained difficult for a few years. However a move to sell overseas resulted in Sales Agents being appointed in Holland, Denmark, South Africa, Australia and India, where variable capacitors were known as JBs.

By the 1960s the invasion of Japanese transistor sets hit the home market hard, and the move to Variable Capacitor Diode Tuning meant than a potentiometer could do the job of an expensive ganged capacitor. By a stroke of good luck however, the firm making Wavemaster capacitors (as a sideline of a light engineering company) came up for sale on the retirement of its owner who was told to get rid of all the ‘Wavemaster junk’. J B s boss, John Fillmore bought the lot and Wavemaster capacitors are still in production.

Japanese competition hit production in this country and by the late 1970s many companies went to the wall. In 1980 JB took over Wingrove and Rogers to continue the Polar range, which were used in M.o.D. contracts, such as the Clansman sets The advent of broadband front ends must mean a reduction in well made but expensive tuning capacitors: These will presumably still be needed for ATU.s and high power amplifiers, but it would appear to lie a diminishing market.

In 1989 John Fillmore sold the Company to a Company headed by David Ryland, who stated that expansion was planned into production of transformers gear drives and universal couplings.

The above is an edited version from Radio Bygones, with their kind permission.

Doug G4FRA.May 2000.

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Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
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Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

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