Howard Turner, of Centre Electronics, now silent key.

Howard and Maureen

I personally knew Howard through my visits to his shop, Centre Electronics, in Birmingham. I could spend hours in there having a chat with him over a cup of tea…and always gaining several ‘highly prized’ treasures to take home. The last time I saw him was at the G-QRP Club rally which he attended with his wife. As always, he had bags of parts for a pound and brand new valves for a pound a pop too. Howard had one of the last true vintage radio and electronic Aladdin’s caves and he will be missed by many.

Here is the obituary Chris Pettitt placed on the Eddystone User Group website:

Howard Turner, known to many of us as the owner of Centre Electronics in Birmingham and as a dealer in vintage Eddystone radio receivers and valves, sadly passed away this October after a short illness, aged 80 years. Over the past several decades, many of us met Howard at the numerous radio rallies held throughout the country, or at his shop in South Yardley, Birmingham which was a cornucopia of electronics treasures and where a bargain was always to be had. Howard is survived by his wife and business partner, Maureen, and son Christopher. His Funeral Service was held at St Giles’ Church, Exhall, near Coventry on 22nd November 2021 and was attended by family and friends, including some of his old customers. There were numerous floral tributes including one from the Eddystone User Group.

Howard was born in 1941 near the village of Catherine-de-Barnes, Solihull. Eventually the family moved to Balsall Common and at aged 15 years, Howard left Lode Lane School and started work as a cabinet maker in a local furniture factory. However in the early 1960s the factory closed down and Howard found employment with a local builder and thus learnt his trade as a bricklayer/builder which was to be his main occupation for the next 20+ years. However in the 1980s, Howard become disillusioned with the building industry and decided to start a new venture.

Since the age of 10, Howard, with the encouragement of a local farmer, Mr Arthur Blaymire, developed an interest in Electronics and Radio. Howard was self-taught, reading books and magazines, asking questions of anyone who could help and sometimes servicing his friend, Mr Blaymire’s, television. Mr Blaymire and his brother Percy were amongst the early pioneers of radio in the 1920s so like many of that generation, were equipment was experimental and often self-built, they were good teachers to Howard.

Eventually Howard put his vast knowledge to good use by starting a brand new venture in the 1980s with Maureen, dealing with radio and test equipment and electronic parts at a shop in Stockfield Road, South Yardley, Birmingham. Thus Centre Electronics was born. With the help of their friend, Paul Bicknell, G8KFW, they gain a contract for servicing and repairing radio equipment for the London Fire Brigade. Simultaneously with the shop business, Howard and Maureen would be regular stall holders at radio rallies up and down the country and sometimes overseas, selling Eddystone and other rare sets and parts. It was at these rallies that he would meet Eddystone collectors, many of whom were to become his customers and, not a few, firm friends for life.

I first met Howard around 1990, when I was managing director of Eddystone Radio in Birmingham. We had already started to support the Eddystone User Group and Howard heard through a friend of mine that we were going to close down our service department for sets more than 15 years old, which meant that we had a large quantity of radio valves for sale. He came and saw me and we struck a deal for him to buy them and we would direct future customers for them to Centre Electronics. Looking after the valve business was largely in the hands of Maureen who shipped them to customers all over the UK and world-wide. For me that was the start of a life-long friendship with Howard and Maureen.

In 1993, Tony Sale, and other experts, were proposing re-building the Mark 2 Colossus computer at Bletchley Park, secret home of the war-time Codebreakers. Colossus was the world’s first programmable electronic computer. Its sole purpose was to help decipher the Loren encrypted (Tunny) messages sent between Hitler and his top generals during the war. Churchill had decreed that all machines, plans and drawings of Colossus, which was designed by Post Office engineer Tommy Flowers, should be destroyed after the war for security reasons. Thus the challenge that Tony Sale and his team set themselves in 1993 was enormous. Howard and Maureen responded to Tony’s request for help obtaining valves and rare components through their numerous contacts and were able to help Tony with this important project which was eventually finished in 2008. It is on permanent display at Bletchley Park. Howard and Maureen carried on the business at Centre Electronics until Howard’s retirement in 2004.

Howard and one of his Jags

After his retirement, Howard pursued his other interests, one of which was restoring vintage and classic cars. This hobby was inspired, when as a boy walking along the lanes with his mother, one of their neighbours, who was a doctor, drove past in his brand new Jaguar XK120 sports car. Howard told his mother that “when I grow up I am going to get myself one of those “. Howard restored many classic cars from his retirement, right up until his passing this year. I well remember him coming to the Eddystone factory several times in a Jaguar which was his favourite marque. He was also a “black powder” enthusiast, collecting, restoring and shooting flintlock muskets with a group of friends.

Sadly in February 2021, Howard was suddenly struck down with an illness that which was diagnosed as Mesothelioma (also known as asbestosis), most likely contracted all those years he was in the building industry. Once diagnosed Howard’s health declined very quickly despite the best efforts of the NHS and he was eventually admitted to the Marie Curie Hospice where he passed away on 31st of October. Howard was a real character, who will be fondly remembered by many of us. RIP Howard and be assured that your life made a difference and the world was a better place for you being in it. You will be missed.

Chris Pettitt G0EYO

3/12/2021 Click here for the original on the EUG website.