Blog posts tagged with 'stanley mullard'


As the new scion of Mullard, I have just received by e-mail a question as to whether or not SR Mullard was an unpleasant man to work with. Many had commented that Stanley was a ‘rough diamond’ with little formal education. Most of his bad press seems to stem from the contretemps between himself and CO Stanley in the days before CO was the owner of WG Pye. At this time, Mullard was looking for sales expansion and CO Stanley as the charismatic owner of the marketing agency ARKS, hit upon a grand scheme whereby a new magazine entitled Radio for The Millions would be produced which extolled the great virtues of Mullard’s PM series valves.

The first edition of the magazine was penned with a range of four tried and tested radio designs which could be built by the home constructor for as little as two pound and fifteen shillings. The idea was that funding for the magazine would be sponsored by component manufacturers but they were not particularly forthcoming and Radio for The Millions was majority funded by the Mullard Company. In a pilot study the initial uptake of this magazine was slow and CO Stanley hit on the idea of advertising in The Daily Mail hence ‘gifting the magazine to the nation’. All the interested public had to do was write to Mullard House and lo and behold a free copy would be sent to them by return mail. The only fly in the ointment was the cost of that advert in the Daily Mail which would cost some £900. Stanley Mullard didn’t want to stump up the dosh but the silver tongued CO Stanley talked him round.  The photos below show, on the left,  CO Stanley in 1929 and Stanley Mullard a little later in 1955.

The Daily Mail advert ran in early December 1926 appearing in a Saturday edition of the newspaper. Come Monday morning, Stanley Mullard and CO Stanley gathered at Mullard House to see what effect the advert had produced – the post came and went ............and not one single response was received as a product of this expensive advert. Stanley Mullard, it is said, exploded in apoplectic rage and was said to have roundly cursed CO Stanley in a particularly vile and vitriolic manner. This tirade went on for some time and was cut short only by the arrival of a special mail delivery – the response to the advert was so great that the volume of mail could not have been conveyed by a standard mail delivery!!!!! Stanley Mullard apologised and soon went on to reap the rewards of this campaign by capturing the valve supply for 25% of all radio receivers home constructed during the 1926 – 1927 financial year.

So, the above example portrays a brusque abrasive chap with a hair trigger temprement, however, it seems he was also capable of great empathy, kindness and concern for his employees. It is reported that Stanley Mullard spent a lot of time on the shop floor of the Mullard works, always keen to, as Tom Peters would say some 50 years later, ‘manage by walking round.’ Stanley would always listen to his workforce, particularly on advice of how to improve production methods. It is said that his staff were entirely loyal to him and not one employee withdrew their labour during the General Strike of 1926. Other examples of his empathy were demonstrated if an employee was found to be not performing, in which case they were give an two week leave of absence, if you had a managerial position, this was expanded to a four week leave of absence. This philanthropy came at a price as refreshed from your holidays one was then expected to then step up to the mark!

Some have postulated that Stanley’s lack of formal education was due to a mild form of dyslexia, however, this did not prevent him from running what was to become the largest and most revered valve manufacturer in the UK or once he left Philips-Mullard to become quite a celebrity within the rose and carnation growing circles. It is said that the Mullard family had a Siamese cat which was fond of – as cats are wont to do – to perambulate, micturate and defecate throughout the garden - even amongst the carnations and other shrubbery – did our Stanley's volatile temprement surface and was he ever heard to lustily bellow I’LL KILL THAT COOKING FAT! To that particular question, this scion cannot comment further.



Well, the war was over and 1946 dawned. America had cut off Lend-Lease money to the UK and materials for home and export production were in short supply. There existed a massive surfeit of military surplus electronics which was growing at an alarming rate as war supplies were withdrawn from various theatres of operation. At this time, the great military surplus gravy train was about to commence where not only radio equipment and componentry were available for knockdown prices but military vehicles and even aircraft – and ex RAF pilots to fly them – typically those that did not possess a decent golf handicap that enabled them to get a job with BOAC and an IWC Mk X or Mk XI watch into the bargain!!!

Of great concern to Mullard was not only the fact that valve demand had dropped to 50% of it’s wartime peak but also that the cash strapped Government hit on the plan to dispose of their massive war stocks of valves to the ‘radio trade’ at a bargain price of £5000 per million devices. In all, this disposal lasted for ten years after the end of WW2 and in excess of 32 million devices were trickled back for domestic and industrial use in this way.

To put this into perspective, this mind boggling number equates to the entire sales of valves made by Mullard during any single year throughout the 1950s!!!! Add this to the worry that an immediate post war television boom that never came – at least until 1952 (wonder what happened that year) and you can see why various belts had to be tightened at Mullard. SS Eriks, General manager of Mullard realised that innovation and product introduction were the key to a successful and stable future, to this end, he arranged for the Mullard Research Laboratories to be built in 1946 at Cross Oaks Lane in Salfords, Surrey and thence for the laboratory to be generously funded.

1947 also brought some corporate and boardroom shennanigens as Philips Gloilampen Fabrieken (UK) was reorganised into Philips Electrical Industries UK. This had the knock on effect of The Mullard Radio Valve Co. Ltd being renamed Mullard Limited and for the Mullard headquarters to be situated within the Philips Electrical Industries UK headquarters at Century House, Shaftesbury Avenue, London -can you pick out SS's office in the photo below?

This was followed in 1948 by the renaming of the Mullard Wireless Service subsidiary to Mullard Electronic Products to ensure placement of the Mullard name in areas other than traditional ‘wireless’ manufacturing. Also in 1948, as a reward for his sterling war effort and his vision of the future, a grateful nation awarded SS Eriks his OBE.

Thus reorganised, the Mullard machine marched onwards to face the challenges of the fabulous 1950s.