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History of the manufacturer  

Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) - Defiant; Manchester

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Name: Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) - Defiant; Manchester    (GB)  
Abbreviation: co-op
Products: Model types

Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd.
1 Balloon St., Manchester

Brand: Defiant

Production: 1922 -

The Co-operative Wholesale Society or CWS (also locally known as the "Co-op") entered into manufacturing as early as 1922 with the introduction of gramophones.

The first example of a local Co-op shop trading in the radio business was Barnsley British who achieved a turnover of £14,000 in the years 1922 to 1925. In 1925 they opened the Co-operative Movement's first specialist wireless shop.

The trading principle of the Co-op movement (a dividend returned to the customer on purchase) soon brought criticism by the established radio industry. During 1933, suppliers began to take restrictive actions against Co-op societies and orders were not honoured, the dividends being regarded as a breach of the "Fair Trading Agreement".

In August 1933, Philips Industries and EKCO suspended supplies. By November, CWS had offers from several manufacturers to pick up from there, amongst them Drummond Radio Co. of Bolton, Woodland Receivers, Radio Instruments, Lissen, Kolster Brandes and Philco. CWS decided against those offers and the idea of a new brand took shape. Previous connections to GEC (cabinets for GEC were produced by the CWS cabinet factory in Birmingham) led to an approach with the view of the formation of a joint subsidiary company for the Co-op Movement.

In November 1933, the trade name Challenger was to be registered, but this was dismissed due to objections of another company located in Bradford, who already used that name. By the end of the month, the name Defiant had been agreed upon. In the same month, Mr. M.G. Scroogie was appointed into the post of technical advisor (known as the author of the book The Foundations of Wireless).

Due to pressure from the radio industry, GEC in December 1933 informed CWS that they would not manufacture their Defiant radio. The industry also enacted a policy to cease supply to the Co-op movement.

Nevertheless, in December 5 the first Defiant radios were introduced: the 3-valve model 333 and a 5-valve AC/DC set model 533.

CWS turned to Standard Telephones and Cables to produce some models (namely the B4434 at a substantially reduced price).

At the same time, different routes were explored to guarantee continued supply and manufacture. British Thomson Houston (BTH) agreed to supply Mazda valves for the brand, provided they would be used exclusively. Plessey was approached for the manufacture.

This lead in early 1934 to an agreement of manufacture where Plessey would be given no less than 75% of CWS' business in the manufacture of radio sets, and Plessey would use parts specified by CWS - such as cabinets from the CWS cabinet works, Mazda valves from BTH and components that Plessey did not manufacture themselves.

In June, a Service Centre was set up at the London premises of CWS. In July the first Service Department (then in Birmingham) was established.

The success of the brand caused further restrictive actions by the "established" radio industry: an application to participate at the RMA trade show at Olympia 1934 was refused.

In 1946/1947, the CWS joined forces with Plessey in a joint venture named Radiophone Essex who served as a manufacturing plant for all post-war Defiant sets.

During the 1950s to 1970s, Defiant became a name on par with Philips, Bush, Ferguson etc, eventually being accepted by the British Radio Equipment Manufactures. They also played a leading role in the television rental industry with, at its peak, over a quarter of a million homes featuring a rented Defiant television receiver.

TV sets were, for many years, manufactured for CWS by Plessey of Ilford, who at some point were manufacturing for 17 different brand names. Plessey withdraw from television production in the mid-1960s and the Defiant sets were from 1967 onwards produced by the Bush Murphy Company. Bush Murphy ran into difficulties in the early 1980s and ceased production, forcing CWS to look for another supplier. From 1981 until the mid-1980s, Philips produced those sets.

[History compiled from the article "Story of Defiants" published in Co-operative News, July 30, 1991]

This manufacturer was suggested by Konrad Birkner † 12.08.2014.

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
GB  35 Defiant M900 AC/VP1  Brown Bakelite. Unusual shape. Chassis made by Plessey. 
GB  35–38 Defiant M.S.H. 914 FC4  SW range 13 to 75 meters 
GB  34 All Mains Superhet Receiver MSH901 [AC] AC/TP  An AC mains 2 band superhet table radio housed in a wooden case. Price 11½ guineas.... 
GB  50 Defiant 770 AC-DC VP133   
GB  50 TR1250 6F13  12" 405 line TV with one channel VHF band I tuner, Plessley Mark I chassis. 
GB  60 Defiant A1 UCH81   
GB  60 Defiant AF9 ECC85   
GB  58 Defiant AF21 UCC85   
GB  59 Defiant AF22 UCC85  Similar chassis to model AF21. 
GB  60 Defiant AF23 UCC85   
GB  59 Defiant AF81 ECC85   
GB  58 Defiant T11 ECC83   


Further details for this manufacturer by the members (rmfiorg):

The History of Defiant published by the CWS July 30 1991tbn_story_of_defiants_1.jpg
The History of Defiant published by the CWS July 30 1991tbn_story_of_defiants_2.jpg