JENNINGS MUSICAL INDUSTRIES in late 1967 and 1968
In late 1967, Royston Industries, the holding company that maintained a controlling interest in Jennings Musical Industries, collapsed, taking down its subsiduaries, JMI included. Its affairs, and those of JMI, were placed in the hands of the official receiver (R.N. Langdon) - a means of allowing a failing or failed business to operate while new means of financing were sought. Langdon had to sign off all expenditure. Jennings continued to function until May/April 1968, putting on a display at the Musikmesse in Frankfurt in early March 1968, and trading (albeit in a reduced way) up to the point when the new company - "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" - was brought into being in June '68.
As the page from "The Beacon" (below) indicates, the name was to some extent ready made - VSEL had existed in parallel with JMI for a number of years. A second JMI - "Jennings Musical Instruments" (rather than "Industries"), little used after the 1950s - was doubtless too problematic. Note that it is this older JMI that is invoked by the receiver.
By late 1967, the Dartford Road premises had reverted to Tom Jennings, becaming the home of his new company, "Jennings Electronic Developments". See this page on Tom in 1967 and 1968. In the autumn of '68, VSEL bought the West Street Works and its fittings from the receiver.
New "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" branding was worked out in readiness for the "British Musical Instrument Industries" Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, London, in August 1968.
Below, some notices and pictures relating to this unusual transitional period:
Cyril Windiate pictured in 1964. Windiate, Tom Jenning's secretary for many years, took over the running of JMI following Tom's sacking in September '67. He subsequently served as managing director of VSEL from its inception. Picture from "Beat Instrumental" magazine, October 1964. Windiate signed off the order to Macaris pictured further down this page.
A detail of a page from "The Beacon. Journal of the Royston Group of Companies", July 1967. Royston had owned JMI since 1962. Heslop & Co. Ltd. produced guitar bodies, and amplifier and speaker cabinets for JMI.
A small rough print picture from the "Board of Trade Journal", vol. 191, no. 3615, 1st July, 1966. Eric Summer, chairman of Royston, sitting, centre.
The snippets above are from the Birmingham Post, 8th and 9th December 1967, signalling the trouble that confronted Royston Industries.
"Melody Maker" magazine, 16th December, 1967, quantifying the extent of the debt ("overdraft").
Royston was effectively brought down, as the pieces above signal, by the commercial failure of its "Midas" black box flight recorder. In July 1965, when the fitting of recorders to passenger planes became mandatory, the major airlines opted to use simple devices made by Plessey and Epsylon rather than the Midas, which was in some ways ahead of its time (details from "The Statist" magazine, 16th July, 1965, pp. 196-197). Further refining of the device by Burndept in 1965 and 1966, and the securing of some promising military contracts, were not enough to save it, unfortunately.
The collapse of Royston in 1967 proceeded in stages. Part of Burndept Electronics, though not the division that had assisted Vox with the development and manufacture of the solid state line, passed to the Crompton Parkinson Group in February '68; and it was probably at this time that plans were made to re-formulate JMI.
"The Economist" magazine, 16th December, 1967.
Charlie Cobbett's brief and slightly eccentric run-down of the equipment that the Beatles recorded with in late 1967. The Vox Stylist guitar (?) and McCartney's reported use of a Defiant and T100 speaker cab have, so far, not been substantiated in pictures.
"Melody Maker", 13th January, 1968. Note that 117-119 Dartford Road is still given as the address for the Music Service (Loans) Dept.
Charlie Cobbett, pictured in "The Beacon", July 1967.
Below, a purchase order dated 6th February 1968 from JMI to Macari's Musical Exchange for 100 Tonebenders. Macari's had taken over the old Jennings shop, 100 Charing Cross Road, in January 1967.
Note that the order book at this point was given the lines at top: "Receiver and Manager Appointed 8th December". The order was signed off by Cyril Windiate, managing director of JMI, and approved by the Official Receiver.
JMI at the Frankfurt Spring Fair - the Musikmesse - of 1968 (3rd-7th March). The position of the stand was the subject of a note in "Beat Instrumental" magazine, January 1968.
"Beat Instrumental", January 1968.
"Melody Maker", 2nd March, 1968. Hall 11 was the venue reserved for the Musikmesse - ie. the hall where Arbiter, WEM, Selmer and other British manufacturers also exhibited.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, June 1968: - a list of events for which "Jennings Musical Industries" - probably arranged earlier in the year - had provided equipment despite being in receivership. Reg Clark, in an article published in August '68 (at the foot of this page), gave the impression that he was highly tickled by this.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, June 1968.
A large amount of equipment was evidently out on loan in May '68:
NME Poll Winners Concert: 12th May. See the picture below.
Aretha Franklin, Finsbury Park, Astoria: 11th May.
Aretha Franklin, Hammersmith Odeon: 12th May.
Johnny Cash: 4th - 19th May.
Gene Pitney: 5th April - 7th May.
The Symbols: currently unknown.
NME Poll Winners, 12th May, 1968. The 'two 12" and two 10" cabinets' noted in the article are actually Vox UL760 cabs, four of which can be seen above.
In September 1968, a major auction of JMI stock and assets took place at the West Street Works in Erith, smaller auctions having taken place some months earlier (end of 1967) at Dartford Road. Two AC100 chassis were seen at Dartford at that time, one of which was purchased - pictures on this page.
Below, the notice of the sale of Jennings (and Burndept Electronics) assets at the West Street Works - principally guitars and organs, though amplifiers, spare parts, and industrial furniture are encompassed too.
"Practical Wireless" magazine, September 1968. Much the same text also appeared in "Radio Constructor" magazine, August 1968.
It seems likely that at least some of the items presented were "bought in" by the new company, "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", which had come into being by this point - see the comments of Reg Clarke in the article in "Beat Instrumental", below.
Given that VSEL took over the rooms formerly occupied by JMI in the West Street Works, it is reasonable to assume that it acquired the furniture too. Again, note what Reg Clarke says: "We have even bought our old factory in Erith, Kent". It is interesting to see that a catalogue of the sale was printed.
Syd Wedeles, a former JMI employee, had already snapped up for his own business the spare parts stocked in the Jennings shop at 100 Charing Cross. The shop was sold in January 1967 to the Macaris.
Vox Sound Equipment Limited - the new company
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, August 1968: Reg Clarke states that "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" had been "born at the beginning of June":
"Beat Instrumental", August 1968.
Music trade press, August 1968. JMI had come to an end as an active company in late April '68, but the winding up process went on for some months thereafter.
The change to "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" is likely to have been visible first, publicly at any rate, at the British Musical Instrument Trades Fair at the Russell Hotel in late August 1968.
A snippet from Gary Hurst's account of the British Musical Instrument Trade Fair at the Russell Hotel, London, 21st - 25th August, 1968, from "Beat Instrumental".
In September 1968 the advert below appeared in "Beat Instrumental", giving "Vox Sound Equipment Limited" in small print. For those who had not seen the magazine notices or had no report of the Trade Fair in August, this may have been the first indication that Jennings Musical Industries was no more:
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, no. 65. September 1968