Record Shops
The Seaside Recording Booth Voice recording booths were popular in the UK between 1930s and the early 1970s. Southend was also home to such invention, for a small fee, visitors to Southend could record a memento of their stay in the town, whether it was a spoken message or a song sung to a loved one or family member, the event could be recorded on a disc and played later on a record player, these could be described as audio postcards from a bygone age.

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78 Record Named after the speed it rotated at, this disc was manufactured between 1898 and the late 1950s, although some children’s records were released made from vinyl at the 78rpm speed up until the early 1970s. Common material was shellac which was quite brittle. The 12 inch disc could last up to four or five minutes, whilst the 10 inch only lasted 3 minutes. The 78 suffered with a limited dynamic range.
LP Record or long playing/long play In June 1948 the LP was introduced by Columbia Laboratories, and soon became a standard format for the record industry. The common speed was set at 33 1/3rpm although some early discs for speech rotated at 16rpm. Made from vinyl this disc came in 10 inch and the popular 12 inch sizes. This used “microgroove” technology, and 23 minutes per side could be achieved with a good dynamic range, longer with a lower signal level. Early pressings were in mono, later, stereo and quadraphonic disc were introduced also coloured vinyl and picture discs were produced in the 1980s. This format is still manufactured today although its popularity has greatly decreased since the introduction of digital formats.
12 Inch Single Born out of the 1970s disco era, the 12 inch single had wider grooves and larger separation between them giving better dynamic range and a higher signal level. Songs on this format unlike the 7 inch single could be lengthened offering extended versions, remixes and instrumentals. Most rotated at 45rpm with some pressings running at 33 1/3rpm. These are still popular today especially with DJ’s.
7 Inch Single The 7 inch single or also known as the 45, the latter taken from the rotation speed of the disc at 45rpm, was released by RCA Victor on 31st March 1949. This format was a direct replacement for the shellac 78 records, these were made from vinyl, smaller, more durable and offered better sound quality. The first releases were recorded in mono but by the early 1970s almost all the 45s sold were in stereo. Colombia Laboratories who had released the vinyl LP in 1948 also released a 7 inch 33 1/3rpm disc in March 1949 but the RCA 45 soon took over and became the more popular format which we know today. In the 1950s these lightweight and inexpensive discs quickly became popular and would stay popular till the 1980s, these sometimes were marketed with picture covers, later some versions were available as picture discs or coloured vinyl.
Reel to Reel Tape The reel to reel tape recorder was invented by the German - British Blattnerphone and the Magnetophone in the 1930s, by the 1950s the reel to reel tape recorder was becoming popular, with the first stereo pre recorded tapes on the market, not only would this format play purchased recorded tapes but allowed you to make your own recordings. Early machines were mono, some with one track per side others with two tracks per side, later when stereo machines were introduced the two track system used one track for left hand channel with the other used for the right hand channel per side. The tape itself was ¼ of an inch wide Some machines had switchable speeds most common speeds were 3 ¾, 7 ½, and 15 inches per second the tape spools came in different sizes. By the 1970s popularity for the reel to reel was wavering to the more convenient compact cassette, and in the 1980s most of the manufacturers had discontinued their range of machines. In the 2010s there was an analogue revival and once again old machines became prized component of serious audiophiles.
8 Track Cartridge/Stereo 8 (8 Track) This format was popular from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s, originally taken from another design called Stereo-Pak designed by Earl Muntz in the 1940s. Development of the cartridge was first designed by Bernard Cousino in 1952. The cartridge contained a single reel with a continuous loop of magnetic tape. The format first started out as a four track system but later advancement in technology 8 tracks and 12 track players became available, with Quadraphonic sound on 8 track announced in the early 1970s. By the end of the 1970s the 8 track cartridge had lost its popularity.
Compact Cassette The Cassette Tape was introduced in September 1963, with pre recorded cassettes being launched in Europe in late 1965. Developed by the Dutch company Royal Philips in Belgium by a team of engineers led by Lou Ottens. The audio cassette came in two forms, either “blank” ready for recording or containing content pre recorded. Common standard capacities for “blank” cassettes were c60, 30 minutes each side, c90, 45 minutes each side, c120, 60 minutes each side. Musicassettes (pre recorded) tape lengths were customised to the amount of content pre recorded, there was even the Cassingle (cassette single) featured a music single in Compact Cassette form. Variants of the tape coating varied from Ferric Oxide (FE), Chrome Dioxide (CR) and Metal Oxide (ME). The Cassette would become the first portable personal format with the invention of the Sony Walkman.
Minidisc (MD) In 1983, Kees Schouhamer Immink and Joseph Braat was the first to experiment with erasable magneto- optical Compact Discs, this was just a year after the introduction of the Compact Disc, It took almost 10 years however before their idea was commercialised. The Sony MiniDisc was one of two rival digital systems, both introduced in 1992, that were targeted as replacements for the Philips Compact Cassette analog audio tape system: the other was the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC), created by Philips and Matsushita (now Panasonic). This created marketing confusion and battle very similar to the Betamax vs VHS of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sony attempted to license MD technology to other manufacturers, but companies such as Technics and Radio Shack tended to promote DCC instead. The initial low uptake of MiniDisc was attributed to the small number of pre-recorded albums available on MD as relatively few record labels embraced the format, the initial high cost of equipment and blank media was also a factor. Despite having a loyal customer base largely of musicians and audio enthusiasts, the MiniDisc met with only limited success, although it was relatively popular in Japan and the United Kingdom during the 1990s, it did not enjoy comparable sales in other world markets. Since then, streaming services, recordable CDs, flash memory and HDD and solid-state-based digital audio players such as IPods/MP3 players have increased in popularity as playback devices.
Compact Disc (CD) The compact disc (CD) was co-developed by Philips and Sony to store and play digital audio recordings and is a digital optical disc data storage format. The first disc was manufactured in August 1982, then released in October 1982 and branded as Digital Audio Compact Disc. Standard CDs have a diameter of 120mm (4.7 in) and typically hold up to 80 minutes of uncompressed stereo digital audio or about 700 MB of data. The Mini CD has various diameters ranging from 60 to 80mm (2.4 to 3.1 in); they are sometimes used for CD singles, storing up to 24 minutes of audio. Worldwide sales in 2004 of audio CDs, CD-ROMs, and CD-Rs reached about 30 billion discs. By 2007, 200 billion CDs had been sold worldwide. Since then, streaming services, flash memory and HDD and solid-state-based digital audio players such as IPods/MP3 players have increased in popularity as playback devices.
Cylinders The Cylinder Phonograph was developed by Thomas Edison in c1877 whilst working on two other of his inventions, these being the telegraph and the telephone. The Edison Speaking Phonograph Company was established on 24th January 1887. Later developments came and in October 1887 the Edison Phonograph Company was formed to market his machine. The early cylinders only lasted 2 minutes and were hard to mass produce. The cylinder format would phase out after the introduction of the 78 disc.
Analogue Media
Southend Hits the Parade In 1964 Dame Cleo Laine released her song ‘Southend’. It was an unusual song from the great jazz singer, a sing-a-long waltz which depicted the seaside holiday of its time.
The First Record Shop There are two claims to be the oldest record shop in the world, the first is Spillers Records in Cardiff, Wales, which was founded by Henry Spiller in 1894. The second claim to be the first record shop in the world is by Giovanni D’Amato who founded his shop in Valletta, Malta in 1885. Unfortunately we are not certain of the first record shop in Southend.
The 78 Revolution, The Shops
More Shops
The Media for the Reproduction of Sound
Digital Media
Revolver Records, Southchurch Rd, Southend
Two Twelve Tens, Princes St, Southend
W. H. Smiths, Record Dept, 207 High St, Southend
Our Price Records, Southend
P & P Records, West Road, Southend
Projection Records, Southend
MVC, London Road, Southend
Guy Norris, 239 – 241 Churchill South, Victoria Square, Southend
Woolworths, Record Dept, High St, Southend
Fives, Leigh Broadway, Leigh-on-Sea & Eastwood Rd, Rayleigh
Downtown Records, 401 London Rd, Westcliff-on-Sea
Virgin Records, Virgin Mega Store, Virgin Media, Southend
J & R Tapes, Sutton Rd, Southend
Hamiltons, Weston Rd, Southend
Disc Den, 429 – 431 London Rd, Westcliff-on-Sea
Golden Disc, Queens Rd, Southend
Gumbies Records, Southend
Gilberts, 37 Southchurch Rd & 277 London Rd, Southend
W. H. Smiths, Record Dept, 207 High St, Southend
Record Man, The Chase, Rayleigh, plus pop up shop at the Zero 6
Boots, Record Dept, High St, Southend
HMV, Southend
Simon’s Records, Southchurch Rd, Southend
Parrot Records, Victoria Shopping Centre, Southend
Kelleys, 1723 London Rd, Leigh-on-Sea, 92 High St Southend, also shops in Rayleigh & Basildon
Leigh Record Exchange, Leigh-on-Sea
Keddies Record Dept, High St, Southend
Ryan’s Records, 320 Chartwell North, Victoria Circus, Southend
Soundtrack, 149 Leigh Rd, Leigh-on-Sea
Hodges & Johnsons 37 – 43 Broadway West, 19 Rectory Grove, Leigh-on-Sea, 126 Hamlet Court Rd & 5 Southchurch Rd
British Home Stores, Record Dept, High St, Southend
Carmel Records, London Rd, Westcliff
South Records, Queens Rd, Southend
c1913 J. H. Pease Advert
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