Ancient & Modern

History of the Theosophy in Wales



The Tape Recorder Saga of 1956



Charles James

1913 - 2000



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Interest in a tape recorder probably began in 1954 when John Whitting of Bristol brought his own equipment to a Cardiff Lodge meeting at 10 Park Place to play a recording of a Geoffrey Hodson lecture. It is described in subsequent Cardiff Lodge records as “a marked success” and “a welcome innovation to our programme”


Charles James, recalling this momentous event in the 1990s, said that the Tape Recorder was carried from the car into the building with great caution by four able bodied members and that many of those present had never seen a Tape Recorder before.


It is recorded in the National Council Meeting minutes of June 25th 1956 that Charles James gave a report on the costs of either hiring or buying a tape recorder to record lectures or play those of absent speakers.

(Please note we are talking about a reel to reel machine, audio cassettes didn’t come in until about 1967)


His findings were as follows:-


Hiring a machine 10/6d (52½p) per evening or 1guinea (£1.05) per day


Purchase of tapes 15/- (75p) or 25/- (£1.25) depending on length


To purchase a machine (a Grundig) – a staggering 51 guineas that’s £53.55. You can buy one for less than that now. Average earnings in 1956 were about £12 per week.


The matter was discussed at this and a later meeting on November 2nd and it was decided to delay the decision to purchase a machine. Charles was thanked for his effort.


It appears that a tape recorder was hired for one meeting only in 1957 at a cost of 1 guinea.


Charles raised the issue again in 1964 and a tape recorder was eventually purchased in 1968 at a cost of £30 19s 6d (£30.97½). You can still get one for less than that now.


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