Jennings Musical Industries - 115 to 119 Dartford Road

Jennings Musical Industries factory, Dartford Road

An idealised view of 115 Dartford Road, rear cover of the "Precision in Sound" newspaper format catalogue, late 1964.

Jennings Musical Instruments, 119 Dartford Road

"Squeeze Box" magazine, May 1949. A detail from the Jennings advert on the back page - 119 Dartford Road, Tom Jennings's first premises.

Buildings in the late 1950s and 1960s

Some notes on the Jennings buildings at 115-119 Dartford Road. Number 115 was the Works - also known as "Unity House"; number 117 served as storage/repair; number 119, the only building that now survives, Research and Development, and prior to that the shop/showroom.

During the course of 1964, the AC100 chassis assembled by Westrex were transported to Dartford Road and made ready for sale at number 115 - given boxes and back panels, serial numbers, and so on.

Number 119 was purchased by Tom Jennings c. 1947 - and for a while it was his house (residence). Number 115, an Estate Agents in the first years of the 1950s (and a little way into 1953), had been acquired by mid to late 1953; number 117 by 1956.

Jennings Musical Instruments, 115 Dartford Road

"Melody Maker" magazine, 6th November, 1954. "Unity Works" was number 115 Dartford Road.

Jennings Musical Instruments, 115 Dartford Road

Detail of another Jennings advert in "Accordion Times", January 1956, one of the first, if not the first, to mention the complex as a whole (i.e. numbers 115-119) explicity.

Jennings Musical Instruments, 115 Dartford Road

"The London Directory and International Register of Manufacturers, Wholesalers & Shippers", 1958, p. 824.

Below, a detail from the Ordnance Survey map of Dartford, surveyed in 1960 and published in 1962. House and building numbers are marked.

Plan of Jennings Musical Industries (JMI) buildings at 115-119 Dartford Road, map

Numbers 115-119 Dartford Road, marked on Ordnance Survey sheet TQ5274-TQ5374A, part of a series produced to aid the National Grid (printed in 1962) - scale 1:2500.

The shed (workshop) behind number 115 belonged to Jennings, so too the one behind number 119 (Artists' Loan equipment). The complex was taken over in late 1968 by "Jennings Electronic Developments", the company formed by Tom Jennings after the demise of JMI. Alan Pyne took number 119 over c. 1975 when Jennings's new company folded.

Number 117 was in the hands of Motoplat (UK) by 1969, presumably having been sold by Tom - probably earlier in that year. By 1989 Motoplat owned 107-117 Dartford Road.

A page on the Jennings shop at 100 Charing Cross Road, 1950-1967, .

EXTERIOR

Jennings Musical Industries at 115 Dartford Road

An aerial shot of Dartford Road taken in 1953. The two adjoining parts of number 115 (one behind the screen wall) are indicated by the arrows. To the right is the garage on the corner. At the time the photograph was taken, number 115 was an Estate Agents. The buildings were acquired by Jennings soon after the photo was taken, becoming the works or "Unity House".

Jennings Musical Industries at 115 Dartford Road

Photo of numbers 117 and 119 Dartford Road taken by Derek Underdown c. 1955. Number 117 is still the Fish and Chip shop. Thanks to Toni Standing for kind permission to use the picture here.

Jennings Musical Industries at 115 Dartford Road

Photo of the rear portion of number 117 with the "huts" behind number 119. Photo by Derek Underdown c. 1955. Thanks to Toni Standing again.

The map a little way above records the arrangement of the buildings c.1960-1961. The panorama below is probably more or less contemporary with it. In picture are a Ford Anglia (introduced in 1959) and a Commer van (introduced in 1960).

Panorama of JMI factory, 115 Dartford Road

Composite Panorama of the Works published by Jim Elyea, Vox Amplifiers: The JMI Years, pp. 544-545. Note that number 115 encompasses the factory and the offices (with a lower roof-line). Numbers 117 and 119 are out of picture.

On the other side of Dartford Road, almost directly opposite the JMI buildings - i.e. straight across to the left in the panorama above - were the premises of the "Dartford Engraving Company" (behind numbers 70 and 72 Dartford Road). "Dartford Engraving" produced traffolyte panels for amps and guitars.

Telegraph magazine, 14th May, 1965

"The Telegraph" magazine (Sunday Supplement no. 34, 14th May, 1965). Tom with a Symphonic Bass standing in front of the wall of number 117.

Jennings Musical Industries factory, 117 Dartford Road

117 Dartford Road (the store/repairs building) in slightly later days, late 1965 (?).

INTERIOR

JMI factory, 115 Dartford Road

"Accordion Times" magazine, September 1953. Repairing accordions. Precise location unknown, but probably Dartford Road rather than 100 Charing Cross Road. The accordions will probably have been brought to the Charing Cross Road shop in the first instance, though.

JMI factory, 115 Dartford Road

115 Dartford Road - Jennings Organs being assembled. Photo taken c. 1955 (collection: Derek Underdown). Thanks to Toni Standing for permission to use here.

Panorama of JMI factory, 115 Dartford Road

Flyer from mid/late 1960 showing the interior of the factory building, 115 Dartford Road.

Panorama of JMI factory, 115 Dartford Road

Note the beige single speaker AC10s (?) with black "luggage" handles lined up down the middle of the space. On the far left hand side is the guitar assembly area.

Below, shots of the guitar assembly area, guitars stored between the two benches. One can see the near side in the picture above.

Guitar production in the JMI factory at 115 Dartford Road

Still from the BBC4 Documentary "Vox Pop. How Dartford powered the British Beat." From a film made in 1965.

Tom Jennings in front of the guitar assembly area, Dartford Road

Tom J. in front of the guitar stands, 115 Dartford Rd. Picture from Getty Images.

Jennings, Dartford Road factory, Beat Instrumental magazine, September 1965

"Beat Instrumental" magazine, September 1965.

Jennings, Dartford Road factory, Beat Instrumental magazine, September 1965

A further picture from "The Telegraph" magazine (Sunday Supplement no. 34, 14th May, 1965) - a large-box AC50 and an AC100 being checked in the small testing "rooms", 115 Dartford Road. In the foreground, T60 amplifiers and cabinets, some AC50s, perhaps AC100s too, and covers, slightly strewn about.

Lonnie Donegan at Dartford Road

"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 3rd July, 1964.

Jennings and team at 119 Dartford Road

"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 19th February, 1965. Tom Jennings and team preparing for a press view in 119 Dartford Road prior to the Frankfurt Musikmesse.

Reports

Below, a report in the "Electrical Times", 22nd October, 1964, giving a small glimpse of moves to expand and reconfigure operations following the "Million Dollar Deal" .

Planned development, Jennings Dartford Road factory

"Electrical Times", vol. 146, no. 17, 22nd October, 1964.

The greatest change, however, was the expansion into the West Street Works in Erith, which was owned by Burndept Electronics, a fellow member of the Royston Group of Companies, and a contractor for JMI from 1962. Production of AC100s (technically AC80/100s) began in Erith in early Spring 1965.

Planned development, Jennings Dartford Road factory

"Dartford and Swanley Chronicle and Kentish Times", 23rd July, 1965.