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History of the manufacturer  

Dominion Radio & Electrical Corp. Ltd (Dreco), Philco; Auckland

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Name: Dominion Radio & Electrical Corp. Ltd (Dreco), Philco; Auckland    (NZ)  
Abbreviation: philco
Products: Model types
Summary:

Dominion Radio & Electrical Corp. Ltd.
Wellesley Street, Auckland. (1937-1940)
Broadway and Great South Road, Newmarket. (1940-1955)
Huia Road, Otahuhu. (1955-1974)

The Dominion Radio & Electrical Corp. Ltd (Dreco) was founded to manufacture Philco branded radios following the cessation of imports from the USA. They also manufactured radios, radiograms electrical products and television sets with various brands over time as below.

DateBrandNotes
1962-1974DrecoPortable radios and tape recorders
1955-1974La GloriaRadios and electrical appliances
1962-1974MajesticReplaced Philco brand
1939-1962PhilcoImported from USA prior to 1939
1962-1974PicturamaLow priced black & white TV’s

 

Founded: 1938
Closed: 1974
Production: 1938 - 1974
History:

Charles Begg & Co. Ltd. (Begg's) from its beginnings in 1861 kept New Zealanders up to date with musical developments in Europe, the US, and elsewhere by providing imported instruments and music. Around late 1929 they advertised as the sole New Zealand agents and distributor for Philco US radios. [1]

With the advent of import restrictions in 1937  Begg’s established local production in a “factory” in an old house in Wellesley Street, Auckland. At this stage, only eight people were employed, so chassis and speakers were imported and fitted to locally made cabinets.[2]

In June 1939 Begg’s subsidiary company, Dominion Radio & Electrical Corporation Limited was registered as electrical and mechanical engineers and manufacturers with Subscribers: R. D. G.  Billing, 350 shares; N. C. Curtis and J. W. T. Macklow, 150 shares each; Mrs. E. E. Macklow, 50 shares. [3]

By mid-1940 the company had moved to larger premises located at the corner of Broadway and Great South Road, Newmarket, and here production began in earnest. [4]

The New Zealand-made Philcos differed somewhat from the American, although most were based on American designs. Right from the start the local content was quite high, though as in the case of all other local manufacturers, certain items such as valves, tuning condensers, potentiometers, and capacitors had to be imported. An obvious difference between the American and N.Z. chassis was the use of a chromium-plated finish on the latter, though Dreco was not the only local manufacturer to adopt this practice. Also, they used the US Sylvania Loktal type valves and were the only pre-war N.Z. manufacturer to use them. [2]

Begg’s reported June of 1941 that its subsidiary, DRECO made a loss of £499 in its first year and a profit of £378 last year. [5]

At the AGM in July 1945 Begg reported the Government had stopped the production of domestic radios in all radio factories in 1942 so they could concentrate on equipment for the war effort. With the reintroduction of domestic radio production, the company would also expand the electrical home appliance production in the Dominion factory. [6]

The government's minister for Supply noted the valuable contribution to the war effort by the Dominion factory and stated that certain types of New Zealand radio sets had won the approbation of the Allied Commanders in the Pacific theatre of war. [7]

After the war in a modern factory was constructed in Otahuhu to which the company relocated in 1955 and the production of Philco radios was continued. At the same time a new line of radios and radiograms, electrical goods were produced under a newly introduced name, La Gloria.

In 1943 Begg registered the Russel Import Co. Ltd. and Philco adverts after the war showed the Philco Division, of Russel Import Co Ltd. as the N.Z. Distributor. [8][9]

In 1961 the American Philco was sold to the Ford Motor Company which used Philco radios in their vehicle production. They in turn sold Philco to the General Telephone Company who also owned the valve manufacturer Sylvania.

With the American reorganization of Philco, the former manufacturing arrangement with Dreco ceased, leaving the N.Z. company without a “franchised” brand. To replace the loss of the Philco name in 1962, they introduced the name “Majestic” for use on their higher-priced lines of radio and television receivers. Note, the original Majestic name belonged to the American firm Grigsby-Grunow, which went bankrupt in 1933. They also two other brands were also introduced at this time “Dreco” for use on portable record players, tape recorders, and transistor radios, and “Picturama” for use on low-priced, private brand, TV receivers.[2]

With the advent of colour television in the early 1970s the company merged with the Bell Radio-Television Corporation Ltd. in 1974 to form Consolidated Electronic Industries Ltd.[2]

[1] Auckland Star 28 Mar 1930, Page 19.
[2] Golden Age of Radio in the Home Page 49
[3] New Zealand Herald 21 Jun 1939, Page 9.
[4] New Zealand Herald 30 Nov 1940, Page 2.
[5] Evening Star 12 Jul 1941, Page 13.
[6] Evening Star 19 Jul 1945, Page 9.
[7] Evening Post 12 Oct 1945, Page 8.
[8] Evening Post 13 Feb 1943, Page 6.
[9] Evening Star 23 Aug 1946, Page 7.

This manufacturer was suggested by Wolfgang Scheida.


Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
NZ  47 Philco 200 7A8  Case similar to US Philco model 39-3A1A (1938) but different tuning scale & chassis. 
NZ  53 Philco 1224 7B7  6-valve AC-powered superhet with RF stage. Collaro 3 speed record changer.  
NZ  51 Philco 203 7S7  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  54 Philco 960   This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  54 Philco 853 7B7  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  54 Philco 806 ECH81  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  51 Philco 354 1T4  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  54 Philco 804 ECH42  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  51 Philco 622 7S7  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  54 Philco 672 6BA6  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  54 Philco 613 6BA6  This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 
NZ  53 Philco 761   This model appears in a list compiled by John Stokes during his research into the history ... 

[rmxhdet-en]

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

[1] Auckland Star 28 Mar 1930, Page 19. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_1_auckland_star_28_mar_1930_page_19.jpg
[3] New Zealand Herald 21 Jun 1939, Page 9. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_3_new_zealand_herald_21_jun_1939_page_9.jpg
[4] New Zealand Herald 30 Nov 1940, Page 2. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_4_new_zealand_herald_30_nov_1940_page_2.jpg
[5] Evening Star 12 Jul 1941, Page 13. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_5_evening_star_12_jul_1941_page_13.jpg
[6] Evening Star 19 Jul 1945, Page 9. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_6_evening_star_19_jul_1945_page_9.jpg
[7] Evening Post 12 Oct 1945, Page 8. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_7_evening_post12_oct_1945_page_8.jpg
[8] Evening Post 13 Feb 1943, Page 6. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_8_evening_post_13_feb_1943_page_6.jpg
[9] Evening Star 23 Aug 1946, Page 7. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_9_evening_star_23_aug_1946_page_7.jpg
Begg's 1933 Philco advert. Alexandra Herald 4 Jan 1933, Page 3. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_alexandra_herald_4_jan_1933_page_3.jpg
Begg's 1934 Philco advert. Timaru Herals 21 Jul 1934, Page 7. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_timaru_herals_21_jul_1934_page_7.jpg
La Gloria 1956 advert. Press Dec 1956, Page 18. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_press_dec_1956_page_18.jpg
La Gloria products in 1957 Press 13 Dec 1957, Page 25. Image sourced from the National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past.tbn_nz_philco_press_13_dec_1957_page_25.jpg

  
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