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British Industrial History

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Charles Orr Stanley

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Charles Orr Stanley (1899–1989), promoter of telecommunications and industrialist

1899 born on 15 April in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Ireland, the second son of John Stanley (b. 1850), a farmer and entrepreneurial merchant, and Louisa Jane Walker, his wife.

Educated locally, then at Bishop Foy School, co. Waterford.

Followed his brother to England, where he taught in Somerset.

1917 July he joined the Royal Flying Corps.

After 1919, attended the City and Guild's School, Finsbury, London, graduating in civil engineering

1923 joined a London agency specializing in engineering advertising - Engineering Publicity Services which had been established by Frank Murphy (1889-1955) and Rupert Casson

Fell out with Murphy and founded Arks Publicity attracting others from EPS; they secured the agency for several manufacturers but concentrated on the industry of radio. Captain Stanley Mullard approached them and Mullard Radio Valve Co opened an account with Arks.

1924 Encouraged William George Pye to produce radios

1924 Stanley married Elsie Florence Gibbs, and they had a son, John (1925–1985). They were divorced in May 1934

1926 Stanley devised a scheme for wireless sets in kit form which were very successful.

Appointed sales consultant for Mullard Wireless Service Co and developed a campaign to attract individuals to construct radios at home based on the Mullard PM valve.[1]

1928 Purchased Pye Radio, the radio branch of the business of W. G. Pye and Co; Stanley borrowed £60,000 from the bank to fund the purchase, having demonstrated a portable radio to them[2]. Stanley went on to establish a chain of small component-manufacturing factories across East Anglia.

1929 floated the company on the stock market

1934 Stanley married Velma Dardis Price (1904–1970)

1937 After a difficult period for the company Stanley became MD.

1939 John Cockcroft and others asked Stanley to develop a radio-operated proximity fuse which was finished by 1941; transferred for development in America; in 1944 it was used to destroy many flying bombs.

Stanley sent three trucks to Holland at the start of war to capture the remaining EF50 valves from Eindhoven before the Germans arrived which were used for the first airborne radar.

Rejected military specifications in favour of a lightweight, cheap, low-power radio design for use by troops.

Offered a large factory in Swansea but mindful of post-war location, Stanley establishing "outwork" production in many Cambridgeshire "village industries", employing 14,000 workers.

PostWWII: founded the Corran Works, Larne, and other industries in Ireland so that, by the 1960s, Stanley was the biggest non-government employer in the Republic.

1952 Promoted commercial television; formed Associated Broadcasting Development Company (subsequently ATV Ltd) expressly to provide commercial television

1960 Stanley won a court action and took over the Telephone Manufacturing Co, which broke a cartel of those suppliers.

1961 forced the industry to develop multi-channel 625-line UHF sets

Promoted local commercial radio; secretly financed and equipped the Lourenço Marques commercial radio station, Radio Caroline, and Manx Radio; committed Pye to a consortium developing communications satellites.

1964 Marketed the first colour television sets.

By 1966 Pye's finances were in a critical state. Stanley was forced to retire as a condition of take-over by the Philips group.

1971 On 18 October 1971 he married Velma's fellow medical graduate Lorna Katherine Sheppard, née Bray (1903–1977), a widow.

1989 January 18th. Died at Lisselane, near Clonakilty, County Cork. Lisselane House is a magnificent French Chateau style house, built in the middle of the 19th century and was in the ownership of Mr. Stanley since 1929. He spent lengthy periods in Lisselane every summer. After the collapse of the Pye business empire in 1966, he spent more and more time in Lisselane and retired there on a full time basis from around 1971 onwards.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Radio Man: the remarkable rise and fall of C. O. Stanley, by Mark Frankland
  2. The Times, January 23, 1989
  • Biography, ODNB [1]