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London's Iconic Music Store 

Rose Morris Always With Pleasure 1920 to 1970, Part 1

Early Days

In March 1919 when it seemed likely that their brother Leslie would soon be discharged from military service, Stanley Rose and Charles Rose formed a partnership which they called Rose Brothers.  Later that year, Leslie Rose joined them, and a small establishment was set up in tiny premises at No 16 Rosoman Street in London's Clerkenwell district.  

Here, at a rent of £1 a week, with a staff of one lad at 10 shillings a week and negligible capital, the brothers began to trade as merchants, mainly dealing in toys and similar merchandise.  

Their sister, Clara, (later to become Mrs. Freeman, Company Secretary for 43 years) opened the partnership's first set of books, though at that time she was employed by a company of East India merchants.  After a few months she was invited to become the first office staff of Rose Bros., and the firm began the uphill task of establishing itself.  Progress was slow - too slow for Charles, who left the partnership and went abroad.

Prior to the war the mouth-organ had been a popular music maker, particularly with London's Cockney stratum: being made exclusively in Germany at that day, mouth-organs had well-nigh disappeared from the scene.  Their reappearance after the war was an opportunity for the Rose Brothers.  Severely hampered by lack of funds, nevertheless the company was to become one of the largest stockists of mouth-organs by the nineteen-thirties.

1920 saw continuing slow progress.  It was not easy to obtain supplies of merchandise: considerable opposition to the newcomers was experienced in those early days, from many established manufacturers and suppliers.  

Years before, Stanley Rose had been employed by a wholesaler of musical small-goods (Ball, Bevan & Co. - now extinct) where he had met and worked beside one Alfred Victor Morris.  Both had acquired an excellent knowledge of the small goods trade, and had remained in touch ever since.

In October, 1920, A. V. Morris joined the Rose brothers and the name of the company was changed to Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd.  This, then, was the foundation of the company in the name which it now bears. 


Leslie Rose, Victor Morris, Stanley Rose – from a photo taken in the early years of their partnership.

 


16 Rosoman Street – the beginning of the story.  Our original photograph of the premises was destroyed with the City Road building: this is a recent photo.  This part of Rosoman Street is now scheduled for demolition.


Harry Williams, Merchandise Manager.


Adjoining premises at No. 18 Rosoman Street were taken and a travelling representative was employed.  Leslie Rose and Victor Morris also travelled while Stanley Rose organised the operation of the tiny warehouse.  

Those days, of course, were not the days of travelling in luxury by car: the representative travelled by train from town to town, with his samples in wicker hampers or 'skips'.  At destinations he would hire a waiting barrowman to trundle the skips to the customer's premises, there to show and re-pack them before catching the train to the next station of call.  

In the early days of the company the partners after returning to London each Friday, were then involved in packing and despatching the goods they had sold during the week!  In August 1920 Henry George (Harry) Williams was engaged: joining the staff as a lad he was to become manager of the warehouse eventually, Merchandise Manager.  He is still with company today, though nearing retirement.

In 1921 another lad was engaged, this time for the office Frederick James Pendle is still actively employed the company, now as Import Manager.  Lack of capital was a severe brake on progress, and the company's records of those formative years include mentions of the directors having waived their salaries.  Such profit as there was was at once ploughed back into the company.

There was at that time an active importer specialising in toys, skilled in the ways of importing, a fine linguist with useful contacts abroad - Adolf A. Juviler. With him the directors of Rose, Morris & Co., formed a separate company in Old Street nearby, calling the new company Sellinghouse Ltd.  Through Adolf Juviler the partners were brought into contact with Max Grimm, who became their buying agent in Germany and so remained until the second war.

In 1922 Sellinghouse Ltd. was absorbed by Rose Morris & Co., Ltd. (now operating from Old Street and Mr. Juviler was appointed to the Board of latter.  

By 1923 better premises were justified, and company took up residence in Goswell Road, not from Old Street, where it remained for the next years of steady growth.  Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd was  becoming known for fair dealing, good service and excellent merchandise - and it has been the company's aim, ever since, to uphold the reputation established by its founder-directors.  

Now there came upon the scene another representative, one Joe Harris, an irrepressible cockney who travelled the London area in an ancient motor van, becoming so much part of the London music trade that he is often spoken of to this day.  He was, perhaps, he inventor of the movable traffic island, giving as his excuse 'It moved' every time he hit one – which was quite often.  He remained with the company until his death, just before the second war.

The growth of Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd was firmly based if not spectacular.  The range of merchandise continued to expand and embraced the whole scope of the 'small goods' field together with some smaller  instruments – though even at that time such things as carnival wigs were listed!  Overcoming the hindrance of the general strike in 1926, not making any fortunes but making many friends, the years at Goswell Road saw the edifice built on firm foundations and the name of Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd respected throughout the Trade.


Wig illustrations from the 1931 catalogue.

 


Guitar from the 1930 catalogue.

Consolidation

There was, at that time, a small producer of drums who manufactured for the Trade on a small scale.  Known then as Furzer & Cutts, it was absorbed by R M and set up in Torrens Street, Islington, under the name of British Music Smiths  to manufacture solely for the company.  In 1928 a disastrous fire gutted the premises: Cutts went his separate way, and William Henry Furzer came to join the Rose, Morris staff.  Engaged mainly in manufactures, (some of them highly ingenious!) though associated with many other branches of the firm's activities, he retired at the end of 1969.

Other notable engagements at this time were Frederick A Williams and Leonard Wellings (both still with the company, in charge of Trade Counter and loading area respectively,) Henry Charles Tagney, John Banham, Robert Newham (all three unhappily, deceased), and, a little later, Edward Albert ('Ted') Williams (brother of Harry) and Alfred Nathan – the former now in charge of Home Sales and the latter Company Secretary.  

Also happily with RM is Harry Bargeman, another 'old stager' – one of three brothers, all in the company's employ.  Marjorie Rose, another sister of the Rose brothers, joined the office staff in the early nineteen-twenties, remaining with the firm until her retirement after the War.

By 1929 larger premises were needed, and they were found at 58 City Road, EC1 where the company obtained the lease of a good warehouse with an imposing shopfront, a huge basement for storage ample space for offices and showroom and - marvel of marvels – a hydraulic lift serving a loading bank capable of accepting a (horse-drawn) railway van.  Here, at last, was room for organisation and expansion.

The pattern of the music trade in those days was one of steady sale of the 'bread and butter' lines growing slowly as scope and specifications improved with superimposed 'booms' of popular items – some spectacular and long-lasting.  


A blow-accordion.  (The 'bellows' were dummy).  This is the forerunner of today's streamlined mouth-blown instruments.

A melodeon of 1930 – an instrument hardly changed to this day.

The Old Brigade

From left to right: front row – E A Williams

W H Furzer, H Bargeman, H G Williams.


Back row – F R Beddard, F J Pendle,

F A Williams, L Wellings, A Nathan

A total of 380 year's service to the company.


There was, at this period, an enormous demand for portable gramophones: the Decca portable, with its circular acoustic horn in the lid, had been used widely by the troops during the war, and the fortunes of Decca were founded on this popular instrument.  

Rose, Morris  were never slow to fill a popular demand, and a gramophone factory was soon set up at the City Road premises under the control of Mr Furzer.  'Portables' were produced in their thousands, under the company's trade marks 'Savana' (the name derived from the Savoy Havana Band, the famous) 'Diana' and 'Broadway'.  Nowadays it is not easy to visualise the prices of 1929 – but a complete and quite effective portable gramophone was produced to sell at twelve shillings and sixpence, while a much improved 'delux' model cost 14 shillings.  The reigning government had not discovered Purchase Tax.

The early nineteen-thirties saw several peaks – mouth-organs sold by hundreds of dozens, with trade prices as low as 4/6d a dozen – there was a shortlived demand for the C-melody saxophone,  now sharing the fate of the dodo; the ukulele and the ukulele-banjo enjoyed astronomical sales at unbelievably low prices, there came the newly-invented chromatic mouth-organ, and, perhaps most important of all the piano-accordion.

Accordions were not new, of course, but the piano-accordion had developed in such a way that it could be learned and played with ease by those not acquainted with musical theory, yet in its more elaborate forms could satisfy the most accomplished virtuoso.  Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd became associated with an accordion manufacturer in Italy, Alfredo Frontalini, and became the sole importers of the products of his factory.  

Savana portable Gramophone, c 1930,  The word 'Electric' , just discernible beneath the trade-mark, referred only to the performance: the motor was spring-driven.

Savana table-model Gramophone,  c 1930.


Throughout the years of the accordion boom, which lasted until the second war, the Frontalini factory produced accordions of high quality and excellent value, which were promoted and sold by RM in such volumes that the name 'Frontalini' became a household word.  The association with Frontalini continued until the death of Alfredo, though the peak of popularity of the piano-accordion was not repeated after the second war.

It was natural that the success of the gramophone industry should direct the gaze of the company towards gramophone records.  'Wireless' then in its infancy, and television an inventor's dream.  Home entertainment was mostly home-made.  Yet even then, when a wireless set was a complicated mass of equipment and reception often by earphones, the voice of the first disc-jockeys became of paramount importance to the trade: when Christopher Stone played a record its success was assured and the demand was sudden and sometimes catastrophic!  

Rose, Morris became record factors, wholesaling such makes as Imperial, Piccadilly, Broadcast and Sterno at prices ranging from 8 shillings a dozen: a guaranteed same-day service was established, and as City Road was then the centre of the record industry, a flourishing trade counter was set up, for the supply not only of records but also of the musical instrument range of the company.  The 'counter' soon became a focal point for dealers in London and the Home Counties:  Saturday working was normal in those days, working on Sundays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day became a regular feature of 'the season'.

The Gramophone Assembling Shop at City Road, (Note the glass floor, which gave us some problems).

 

A Langham portable Radio receiver. Five valves, loudspeaker in the lid, the case containing high-tension, low-tension and grid bias batteries, this 'portable' was no lightweight.

 


A Frontalini Piano-Accordion of about 1936.  Sparkling with brilliant inlays and ornamentation, these instruments made a brave show under stage lighting.  Their musical specification was extremely comprehensive.  Later years saw the addition of an intriguing range of couplers on treble and bass.

 


A phono-fiddle, about 1935.  These and Jap-fiddles (without a horn) were popular one-stringed instruments at that time.

 

The company's ventures were not always attended with such success: there was an abortive attempt to embark on the manufacture of portable radios (at that time of suitcase size) under the name 'Langham', and to market a revolutionary electric turntable for gramophones – far ahead of its time and, as events proved, totally unreliable.  Possibly the burnt fingers resulting  from these exercises was the reason why R M developed an antipathy towards electrical appliances, and did not pursue some of the early developments in the electro-musical field.  Nevertheless, there were steady sales of dry batteries for radios and bulbs for electric torches.

The picture then, in 1923, was of a flourishing wholesale business in musical instruments, with a small outdoor manufacture of drums carried out for the company by one James Amos Cowlin and his father: large sales of gramophones and records, a warehouse staff of ten, with half-a-dozen in the office.  Suddenly, Mr Juviler decided to depart, intending to set up on his own in the radio industry.  The Rose brothers and Victor Morris were well able to carry on alone, and when the financial reorganisation was completed the business continued on a steady course under the remaining three directors.


No 204 Uke-Banjo, c 1934 – still in production!


Diana children's gramophone – about 1933.  It made up in volume what it lacked in tone.


Expanding Markets

 

 


A Zither-Banjo (John Grey model 162) – one of an extensive range of John Grey Banjos.


There was, at the turn of the century, a well established musical instrument house called

Barnett, Samuel & Sons, and from this root had sprung the Decca Gramophone Company, amongst others.  An offshoot of this organisation was the company of John Grey & Sons (London) Limited, established in Westminster in 1832, renowned for its fine banjos and by 1932 trading in the full range of musical merchandise in Worship Street, not far from the premises of Rose, Morris & Co. Ltd.  After delicate negotiation, the John Grey stock and business were acquired by R.M.  From this acquisition there fell to Rose, Morris a number of advantages, some unsuspected.

First, of course, there was the useful stock of merchandise and the goodwill.  Then, as a direct result, came the wholesale agency for Decca records (including Panachord, Brunswick and Polydor) which raised the status of the record department considerably.  This came in time to enjoy the freak sales achieved by some of the more popular titles - including 'Eleven more months and Ten more days', 'Marta' (by the Street Singer), Frank Titterton's 'Trees', Jack Hylton's  'Rhymes', and numerous other best-sellers.

With John Grey came its factory, consisting of the Beddards, father and son, one polisher and a lad.  They were to provide the nucleus of the company's future manufacturing organisation - and it is noteworthy that the R.M. factory is managed to this day by the son, Francis Robert Beddard.  

Throughout its early history the factory was always the special responsibility of Stanley Rose, who adopted it as his 'baby' and guided its many ventures until his retirement.  There came also one Albert J. Wilks, who had joined B.S. & S. in 1918 and was managing the Worship Street warehouse at the time of its acquisition.  Albert Wilks, with no niche awaiting him in the R.M. organisation, looked towards sales abroad, and set about the task of organising exports.  When he retired in 1968, after exactly 50 years in the Trade, he left behind him a flourishing export department, with friends and associates all over the world.  

There came also from John Grey (after a time with Francis, Day & Hunter Limited) Joseph E Platt one of the notables of the Trade who ran the company's Trade Counter until the time of his retirement at the end of 1963.  Unhappily he died soon after retiring.

Thus the end of 1932 came with the seeds safely sown of Rose, Morris's future huge manufacturing and exporting activities.

 


Albert J Wilks.

 


English-style Concertina.

Concertinas used to enjoy considerable sales, both in the English and the more simple German fingering arrangement.


Growing Steadily

 

 

Part of RM's first workshop – assembling stringed instruments at City Road.  The workmen in the foreground may be recognised in the picture on page 9.


Early in 1933 there was some shifting of departments to make room for a workshop at City Road; the showroom was halved in size, an office moved and space obtained for the setting up of a few benches, a couple of lathes and a small circular saw.  Shafts and pulleys were erected, and the first Rose-Morris electric motor installed  (at the somewhat unusual voltage of 534 D.C.).  

 


RM's first machinery.  Powered lathe, sawbench and drill at City Road, c 1933.  Scribing the heel of a Banjo in the foreground –Francis Beddard, father of our present factory manager.


Hence commenced a small scale manufacture of uke-banjos and banjos and the little factory was kept hard at work.  A small quantity of guitars was produced later - large bodied acoustic models which were distinguished with the name 'KRUNA' (a play on the word 'crooner' soon to distinguish the inimitable style of Bin  Crosbv).  These were sprayed in the Gramophone shop downstairs, using, a motor car tyre pump to produce the necessary air pressure - the overspray descending on  the unhappy inhabitants of the record department!

It soon became evident that the manufacturing side of the business had scope for enlargement.  More space was needed for the activities of the warehouse, and it was decided to establish a factory outside the existing premises.  A small building, at 14 Sun Street,

Finsbury Square, was thought suitable, though its inconvenience was to be found later on.  Here, on five small floors, with a twisted wooden staircase and a microscopic hand-operated lift, the Rose, Morris factory was born.  Absorbed into it were the Cowlins, father and son, who had been making drums for R.M. for several years: with them came two workmen, and together they began the first R.M. manufacture of drums. (Some years later Cowlin Senior retired, and the younger left the company and the industry).  A. Nathan was moved from City Road to Sun Street to become the 'factory office' a post he filled until 1958 except for the war years.

The following five or six years were years of steady growth, both in the warehouse and in the factory.  Home trade and a small export business grew side by side, though competition was fierce, and a price difference of sixpence could make or mar a line.  The factory produced a growing range of merchandise, now including ukuleles, drums of many kinds and numerous accessories - all of which were trundled round to the warehouse in City Road on a handbarrow.  Enormous business (in bulk if not in value) continued to be done in the gramophone record department, and mouth-organs and accordions remained best sellers.


Frontage of 14 Sun Street, EC2.  A recent photograph – but the building has not changed since we left it.

 


The machine shop at Sun Street.  Note the driving belts and overhead shafting!  In the foreground F R Beddard and J A Cowlin.

 

Savana Drum Outfit of the early nineteen-thirties.  Note the side cymbal and the triangle!

 


An early photograph of the Woolf twins – Maurice on the left, Willie on the right (or is it the other way round?) with Stanley Rose and Bob Beddard.


In 1936 Adolf Juviler reappeared on the scene: having been precluded by agreement from engaging in the Musical Instrument Trade before then, he now set up a small company in competition with Rose, Morris & Co. Ltd.  He attracted to him two of R.M's outdoor representatives - David Waters and Henry Friedenthal., and the firm of Juviler & Waters came into being. (It was short lived: 1939 killed it.  David Waters has since died; Henry Friedenthal became the head of a notable retail musical instrument company in Hull).


Thus there was imperative need for representatives, and two young men already well known in the trade were invited to join Rose, Morris.  William A. Woolf came to the company from British Music & Tennis Strings Ltd.: his twin brother, Maurice A. Woolf came from Decca.  That they were a notable acquisition to R.M. soon became evident, and their irrepressible sense of humour (as strong today as then) and their identical appearance produced some memorable situations.  In 1937 the company was joined by Roy B. Morris, elder son of Victor Morris: after a spell of indoor activities he joined the travelling sales staff.  1938 saw the engagement for the travelling staff of Michael Berman, from Decca.

Survival in War

 


The lower floors of 74-76 Ironmonger Row EC1.  Our camera could not capture the upper floors – but we well remember those stairs!


In this form then, Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd. faced the approach of the war.  A flourishing wholesale business and a thriving young factory, keen and dedicated staff - all too soon to be put to the test of survival.  The Munich crisis had given the warning, if warning was needed: staff shelters were organised, and some stock was moved into the country.  Accounts were kept in duplicate, one set out of London, and for the time, being the business ticked over.  The outbreak of war saw the gradual whittling away of staff, as, one after another, they took their posts in the services.  Even so, the volume of trade was insufficient to enable those left to be retained by the company and it was necessary to dispense with the services of some.

The Sun Street factory was an early casualty, the top floor falling victim to an incendiary bomb (and the remainder to the activities of the firemen) ~ but emergency repairs were organised, and with a much reduced staff production was resumed on a small scale.  

The great fire raid on the City of London in December 1940 was the finish of the City Road building, which was destroyed completely.  The few remaining employees trooped disconsolately round to Sun Street: there was little enough business to be done, and almost no stock remaining, and the directors might have been justified in calling a halt until the end of hostilities.

That, however, was not their decision; premises were found at Ironmonger Row, not far away: the task was now to keep the company in being, keep a nucleus of service going, to improvise in manufacture and supply a trickle of musical instruments to N.A.A.F.I. and similar outfits; music, after all, being one of the forms of entertainment favoured by the troops.

The Ironmonger Row building (five floors, like Sun Street - and almost as inconvenient) was soon to see bigger efforts.  In association with Boosey & Hawkes Limited the company engaged in war work; instead of instruments of music, instruments of destruction . . . pull switches for explosive devices and limpet mines, together with other infernal devices of a similar nature.

Staff, mostly women, was recruited from the surrounding district; firewatching rosters were organised (the building was never hit, though severely shaken on many occasions), and so Rose, Morris continued remote from its normal sphere of activity, until the end of the war.  The founder-directors were precluded by age from taking an active role in the war, though they did not shrink from a number of humanitarian services.  Leslie Rose became a Chief Air-Raid Warden, and among his many other activities Stanley Rose became President of the Association of Musical Instrument Industries (a post he was to sustain for a record 13 years, doing much to re-establish the Trade after the war).  William Woolf went into the Army: his brother to the Royal Air Force; Roy Morris served in the Royal Navy and the Fleet Air Arm, Michael Berman in the National Fire Service.

Employees gave their services in every branch of the Forces: all but two survived.


Post War Reconstruction

 


Staff outing, 1948.  Stanley Rose in the back row;  Leslie Rose in the front.


1945 saw the company with two factories – the original, at Sun Street and the top two floors at Ironmonger Row, now freed from wartime manufacture.  A few at a time, the staff began to return: there was a backlog of demand for musical merchandise, but raw materials were hard to come by and equipment destroyed or dismantled during the war had to be replaced or   reassembled.  

The newer factory soon embarked on the manufacture of toy xylophones (under the pre-war trade mark of 'VICEROY' – a play on the names of Victor Morris and his, son Roy), together with recorders, the Flutina (a plastic ocarina-type instrument that attained great popularity), pitch-pipes – and even a simple form of mouth-organ.

Alan Rose, Leslie Rose and Alfredo Frontalini.

 


A pair of Bongoes from the Edmundo Ros range of Latin-American instruments.

 


The 'Otavo' – the modern equivalent of the blow-accordion shown on page 8.


Meantime Sun Street resumed manufacture of most of its pre-war products, notably Autocrat drums.  These post-war years saw the beginnings of the company's onslaught on overseas markets, the Woolf brothers making sales journeys to the European countries in the late nineteen-forties and to the USA soon afterwards.  These were pioneer journeys, the forerunners to personal visits by directors of the company to customers the world over.

In 1947 Victor Morris' younger son, Derek joined Rose, Morris as a member of the sales staff.  Meantime, the potential growth of the Australian market became interesting to the directors.  In 1948 Leslie Rose travelled to Australia, there in February, 1948, to set up a new company – Rose, Morris & Co. (Australia) Pty. Ltd, afterwards returning to London.  Locally managed, it was not at first entirely successful; Stanley Rose's elder son, Alan, who had trained as a quantity surveyor, abandoned his profession and after  spending a time in the London business went to Melbourne to take charge of the company there.  

RM Australia continued in happy and fruitful association with its London parent for many years; Alan Rose settled in Melbourne and married there.  The Australian company, now under the title of Rose Music Ltd, eventually went its separate way, and is now an independent establishment, though retaining close ties with the London company, sharing with it many important agencies.

The growth of the business had now resumed; with a staff of 40 the company had returned to its former role (although it did not re-enter the gramophone record trade on any significant scale) and prospects were bright.  The directors, however, were not getting younger, and Victor Morris was not in good health; it was felt that the load should be spread.  In September 1950 the Woolf brothers were appointed to the Board.  It was a popular appointment, to customers and staff alike.  William Woolf now spent part of his time indoors, assisting Leslie Rose with the buying.


The 'Group Explosion'

 

The next two years were to prove the inconvenience of the company's premises and the disadvantages of being in two buildings.  Larger premises were sought where all departments might be together under one roof.  Eventually a building of some 11,000 square feet (this time on six floors - but with a hydraulic lift!) was found at 83-85 Paul Street, E.C..2 and in 1953, for the first time in nearly twenty years, Rose, Morris & Co., Ltd. operated from a single address.  

For its day, the factory was modern and a great deal of new machinery was installed.  The warehouse was spacious, offices adequate and there was a good packing department with a loading bay and crane.  The integration of the two factories led to the gradual abandonment of lines such as toy xylophones, and there was a greater concentration, by the section that had been making them, on metalwork complementary to the growing production of drums: stands, pedals, hoops, fittings and accessories of many kinds.

Here, too, the Dulcet Celesta Chime Bar was born - now an established tool of musical education.


A Shaftesbury electric guitar.

 


A Conn trombone.

 


The 'Dulcet' Celesta Chime Bar (made in a wide range of notes).

 

There was, in fact, a subtle and gradual change in the company's interests in the nineteen-fifties: a metamorphosis that resulted in the shedding of some lines of unimportant merchandise and the acquisition of a number of valuable agencies for 'prestige' instruments and accessories.  The staff of nearly sixty was fully employed, and warehouse space was soon at a premium once more.

By good fortune the building next door became available and a prompt move secured it for R.M. The twin of the existing building, 79-81 added a further 11,000 square feet (and another lift), and it proved practicable to connect the two at every level so as to operate as one unit.  The factory now had the top two double floors and the warehouse the remainder.  A separate office was provided for the export department and a trade counter set up on the ground floor.  In collaboration with the Forest Products Research Establishment the factory developed a novel method of wood-bending, designing and installing new equipment for the purpose. The results of this installation were made available to the Research Establishment for general use.

1956 opened with the company forging ahead on all fronts.  January, however, brought a sad blow to Rose, Morris and its staff, in the sudden death of Victor Morris. He had been attending business up to the day prior to his death: his passion left a gap in the company and in the Trade.  It is no overstatement to say, that he was regarded with affection by all.

In April, 1956, Roy, Morris was appointed to the Board.  He and the Woolf brothers continued travelling, for the firm, leaving the elder directors to look after the day-to-day running of the business.


79-85 Paul Street, EC2.  The premises are now occupied by a sister company in the Grampian Holdings Group.

 


The present Board of Directors.

From left to right: Roy Morris, Maurice Woolf, Michael Berman, Derek Morris.  Seated, the Chairman, William Woolf.

 


The late A V Morris.


The following year saw the escalation of demand for guitars and drums: never before had there been such a peak.  Just as the company had been established in the birth-year of jazz, so now it was in an enviable position to meet the enormous demands for instruments that arose from the growth of groups.  Rock and-Roll, Skiffle and associated new musical trends were performed by small groups of players, combining drums with guitars - new groups mushroomed overnight: some became famous, others coalesced into new formations, a few faded out.  Drums and guitars, guitars and drums - the new, enlarged warehouse was choked with them and the factory worked all hours in an endeavour to keep production in step with demand.

These were predominantly acoustic guitars - the amplification boom was to come later – and, in the main, inexpensive models.

Nevertheless, their sale undoubtedly bred an interest in music among their enthusiastic (but not necessarily skilled) purchasers, as witness the demand for high quality instruments in later years, and the resurgence of correct musical form in the popular music of today.  

Successive years continued the pattern of 1957, with peak demands for 'group' instruments super-imposed upon a steady and slowly rising demand for musical merchandise of all kinds.  The factory was forever improving its products and developing new lines, especially in the field of musical education; importations of merchandise from the established sources of musical manufacture in all parts of the globe had reached a record level, while agencies had been arranged for many items of British manufacture, usually on a 'sole sale' basis.  

The demands of the business, present and foreseen, led to diversion of William Woolf and Roy Morris more and more towards indoor activities, the former to understudy Stanley Rose in the overall control of the company and the latter, from April 1959, to learn from Leslie Rose the intricacies of buying.  A Nathan was moved from the factory office to take overall charge of the company's clerical staff under Mrs Freeman, the Company Secretary.  

Additional outdoor representatives had been engaged, and subsequent events have proved the wisdom of the planned changes.  Notable among the company's representatives are John Higgins Tierney and Gerald Ivan Kennedy, the latter succeeding the late Denis Forsythe who died in the company's service.


One of the RM Drum Outfits for the nineteen-seventies.

 

A modern 'Viceroy' Tambourine, fitted with Headmaster plastic head.

'Dulcet' Descant Recorder.

 


The salesmen – a picture taken at the 1969 Trade Exhibition in London.

From left to right:

Gerald Kennedy, Tony Morris, William Woolf,

Derek Morris, Michael Berman, Alan Seymour,

Maurice Woolf, Jack Tierne

 

Continued in Part 2

 


 

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