The Bush DAC90 radio

The Bush DAC90 radio
The Bush DAC90 radio

Written by Jeannie Swales

How did you keep yourself entertained over the Christmas just gone?

Maybe you listened to music on your iPad or phone; downloaded some podcasts; caught up with the latest box set on Net-
flix; or played games on a console whilst talking to fellow gamers via a headset. At the very least, chances are you watched the Christmas special of your favourite TV programme, possibly on a TV that was Smart, 3D or 4K ...

With so many options available to us these days, it’s hard to grasp that, just over 50 years ago, most people were completely reliant on the radio for entertainment – and in the 1950s, this was the cutting edge model.

The Bush DAC90 and its successor, the very similar DAC90A, were produced in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s, and were the best-selling valve radios in the country. They came in the version we see here – a walnut effect Bakelite case – and a more expensive ivory version.

Early models had plain knobs on the front – the ridged versions you see on this model were introduced after housewives complained that the smooth versions were difficult to turn with greasy or wet fingers.

The tuning bar along the top of the radio showed the many broadcasting stations around Northern Europe from which a signal could be received, 
including Northern Ireland, Oslo, Luxembourg, Ankara, Moscow, Brussels, Hamburg, Stavanger, Marseilles, Hilversum, Paris, Prague, Lisbon, Florence and Vienna.

It also shows locations for the three main BBC radio stations of the period – the Light Programme, the Home Service and the Third Programme.

The most listened-to station, the Light Programme, broadcast popular music, variety shows, comedy and drama. The Home Service was more speech-based, with less music, but also brought listeners general entertainment, alongside news, features, drama and regional programmes.

The Third was more highbrow – it only broadcast in the evenings (presumably on the logic that the man of the house would be home from work then, and in search of intellectually stimulating matter!), and its output comprised classical music concerts and recitals, scientific, philosphical and cultural talks and lectures, poetry readings, and classic and experimental drama.

The Bush radio is part of Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects that have been acquired by the borough over the years, now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust. For further information, please contact Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne on Jennifer.dunne@smtrust.uk.com or (01723) 384510.