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Wharfedale from Ilkley

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Dale Davies ▼ | October 29, 2009
Back in 1932 Gilbert Briggs built his first loudspeaker in his home in Ilkley. In that small town Wharfedale was born, one of the greatest loudspeaker names.
WharfedaleBack in 1932 Gilbert Briggs built his first loudspeaker in his home in Ilkley. In that small town Wharfedale was born, one of the greatest loudspeaker names.

Sleepy little Ilkley in Yorkshire, was located in the valley of the river 'Wharfe' – an area known to this day as 'Wharfedale'. Radio was an exciting new technology back then and word of the new transducers had spread quickly around the area. In the same year, he entered the Bradford Radio Society's annual competition and won both first and second place, earning the company their first major order. From this point, the Wharfedale Wireless Works never looked back, going from strength to strength, producing up to 9000 units per year until the outbreak of the Second World War.

WharfedaleTechnological advances in electronics made during the war impacted heavily on the emerging audio market during the 1940s. In America, a trend developed for seeking better and better music reproduction. Wharfedale were well positioned to meet the growing demand for quality loudspeakers and by 1945, had developed the first two-way loudspeaker – the prototype of the modern loudspeaker. The device would look strange by modern standards with a 10" tweeter and a crossover that took two grown men to lift, but it set the standard for an entire industry.

WharfedaleThrough the 1960s, the company moved into electronics manufacturing with a number of tuners, amplifiers and even turntables being introduced to the market. The 70s saw a return to the more sober, traditional crafted form of loudspeaker. The loudspeaker kits which were once best-sellers for Wharfedale were re-introduced in the late 1970s under the 'Speakercraft' name. This opened the market once again to hobbyists with ranges like the Glendale proving highly popular amongst those for which hi-fi was a deep and serious passion. Production growth continued unabated throughout the 1970s with classic loudspeaker models such as the Lintons and the smaller Dentons. Such was the popularity of hi-fi and the efficiency of the new factory, production in 1977 reached 800,000 drive units.

WharfedaleIn the early 1980s Wharfedale took the opportunity to enter a new market. The rapidly developing professional loudspeaker market had for many years been an attractive proposition. By 1998 the momentum of development within the Professional industry prompted the decision to establish a separate division within Wharfedale to concentrate purely on the Professional market. Wharfedale Pro was born.

Today, Wharfedale Pro is still one of the fasting growing professional audio companies in the world. By staying true to the pursuit of product excellence whilst adapting products to customers' needs and providing unparalleled value for money, we have survived both evolution and revolution.