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 had been purchased by Tom Jennings c. 1947; numbers 117 and 115 were acquired by 1958. In the early 1950s number 115 was an Estate Agents. The firm closed in 1953, and sold off its furniture.

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.

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 by 1958 at the latest, becoming the works or "Unity House".

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.

Jennings Musical Industries factory, 117 Dartford Road

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

INTERIOR

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.

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. Production of amplifiers began there in early Spring 1965.

Planned development, Jennings Dartford Road factory

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