Wharfedale Wireless Works was founded by Gilbert Briggs in 1932, soon after he built his very first loudspeaker in the cellar of his home in Ilkley, Yorkshire. This sleepy little market town was located in the valley of the river “Wharfe” – an area known to this day as ‘Wharfedale’. This unlikely location would see the birth of a brand that has become recognized all over the world, synonymous with quality in high-fidelity reproduction.
Throughout the years, Wharfedale has gained a reputation for innovation. In fact, they invented the world’s first 2 way speaker in 1945. 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 the entire industry.
In 1958 Wharfedale Wireless Works was sold to Rank Organisation with Gilbert Briggs continuing to manage the company until his retirement in 1965. The first four years of the Rank era saw two major breakthroughs. Wharfedale pioneered the use of the now famous ‘roll surround’ on cones and launched its first ever loudspeakers using ceramic magnets.
Production growth continued unabated into the 1970s with classic loudspeaker models such as the Lintons and the smaller Dentons proving immensely popular. In 1981 the first Wharfedale Diamond speaker was born. The rather unassuming small box took the industry by storm. Small cabinets and the stiff, yet light polypropylene driver meant a very fast, tight sound and compact, accurate two-way drivers produced a fantastic stereo image. It quickly became a best seller and the Diamond range has continued to this day as a staple in the Wharfedale catalogue.
Fun Fact: Audio Trends founder, Stephen Lee, started by building Wharfedale speaker kits in the early 1960's with his father until later in that decade fully assembled models became available.
Now, with more than 75 years of setting the standards in perfecting loudspeaker performance, the most advanced research and development program, and the most integrated and thorough manufacturing and quality control process in the industry, Wharfedale, in order to remain at the forefront of audio, has dedicated a 1.5 million square foot of manufacturing operation in which every single product and process takes place in-house. This makes the design of any new loudspeaker an acoustic engineer’s dream. Instead of having to use off-the-shelf components from a catalogue as most other purported ‘hi-fi’ companies choose to, Wharfedale are able to build a complete vision – to engineer every single component from scratch to achieve a harmony in performance and balance.