BIRD AMPLIFIERS

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SYDNEY BIRD COMPANY

 

 

1963 Bird Contemporary Mk II Organ, courtesy of Andrew Briggs. 

 

Sydney Bird was an entrepreneur who initially set up his general manufacturing business in Enfield Middlesex between the two World Wars. He is thought to have had some sort of connection with John Logie Baird, who was the inventor of television and who subsequently founded the Baird Television Company. Bird's own company produced walkie-talkie radios, and general electrical components.

During the 1930's, Bird also became involved in toy manufacture under the Cyldon trade name, after taking over the Prestico construction kit and Morthan "junior" sewing machine companies. Also produced in this domestic themed  toy line were toy cookers and washing machines! Cyldon model steam engines seem to be very collectable these days!

After WW2, Bird's electronics division developed a product which allowed the old BBC single channel televisions to be converted to receive the new commercial channels. Demand for this, as well as the increased success of the toys, led to Bird out-growing his Enfield factory. This resulted in the company moving during 1953 to Poole in Dorset on the South Coast of England where larger premises were available.

After a few years, Sydney Poole became the largest employer in the town, with around 1,000 workers on the books. Further products were developed, including door chimes which were sold under the Morphy-Richards "Cyldon" trade name, cine reels, TV-tuners, and..........electronic organs. The organs became extremely popular in the UK, presumably because they were were considerably cheaper than those imported into the country from places like the US and Italy. Sydney Bird was not a man to miss an opportunity, so when the "Beat Group Craze" began in earnest in the early 1960's, he broadened the scope of his electrical music department to produce the guitar and bass amplifiers which form the subject of this website.

Around about 1962, Bird's companies were merged under one holding company called Astaron-Bird, which was a public company. This encompassed the Sydney Bird Company, Astaron Electronics, and Morthan Ltd. The general electronics side of the business was producing increasingly sophisticated products, such as echo-sounders, radar, and marine communications systems. In 1966, Astaron-Bird commenced making car radios, which were sold under the Radiomobile and Motorola trade names. Around that same time, the musical amplification (and probably the organs) was dropped from the product range - perhaps because of the severe competition from the many other amplification companies such as Selmer, JMI, Watkins, and Marshall. 

With such success, the company must have attracted the interest of predators, and in the early 1970's, Astaron-Bird was taken over by the Brocks Group.  Things continued to go fairly well for the Poole factory during the 1970's, but by the end of the decade the bubble had burst, and large-scale redundancies were taking place at the Poole factory. The receivers were called in during March 1981, and that seems to have been the end of Sydney Bird's multi-product manufacturing empire.

 



 

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