The Jennings Shop - 100 Charing Cross Road
From "Beat Instrumental" magazine, November 1964. One can just see an AC50 or AC100 with tall bass speaker cabinet (immediately right of the tree) in the window. Click as ever for a larger image.
The block that originally encompassed number 100 has now been replaced by a modern brick-built building (currently the home of Blackwell's bookshop). Number 102 was originally at its northern end, at the turn-off from Charing Cross Road into Phoenix Street. Number 100 was one door south of that - see the picture at the foot of this page. Selmer's shop was on the north side of the Phoenix Theatre at numbers 114-116.
Detail from the Ordnance Survey map of 1967. The position of the block is marked in blue: number 102 the northernmost shop, 100 in the middle, and 98 to the south at the junction with New Compton Street.
Photo from the late 1940s showing the block.
100 Charing Cross Road was first set up by Jennings in late 1950 as the "London Accordion Centre", managed initially by Allan Billington (from 1950 - c. 1956) - more on Allan, who was an accomplished accordionist, can be found on this page on the Vox AC30 website. There are some passing mentions of the shop in early days here. Repairs of other makers' instruments were undertaken and various electronic keyboard instruments sold, among which the Jennings Univox (from 1952).
Notices in "Melody Maker" magazine, 2nd December and 16th December, 1950.
"Melody Maker magazine, 16th December, 1950. Allan Billingon, standing centre, was the first manager.
"The Accordionist and Harmonica Player", December 1950, inset picture taken at the opening party. The prospect of the new shop was signalled in the October/November issue of "The Accordionist".
"The Stage", 11th December, 1952.
"Accordion Times", August 1955. A display in the Jennings shop. Note on the small stand, a Jennings catalogue or brochure.
Illustration from the Jennings page in "Accordion Times", July 1957.
"Accordion Times", 10th April, 1960.
In 1954 Jennings put the 3rd floor of 100 Charing Cross Road out to rent. It was taken up by the Al Heath Agency (agent for showgirls, dancers, and so on, in the West End) until c. 1965. Ooh la la:
"The Stage", 7th January, 1954.
"The Stage", 27th August, 1964.
From 1956 to 1967 the floors retained by Jennings were given over to exhibiting, selling, and repairing Vox guitars, organs, amplifiers and accessories - also the Fender instruments handled by JMI in the UK until 1965. See the documents on this page. There were practice rooms in the basement.
As one can see from the picture at the top of this page, bands and musicians posted notices in one of the windows.
"Beat Instrumental", November 1964, text accompanying the picture at the top of this page.
From 1956 the principal salesman was Larry Macari, who in fact co-ran the the shop for a time with Paul Butchard. In 1958 (not 1963/1964 as some sources say), Larry left to form "Macari's Musical Instruments" at 22 Denmark Street with brother Joe. Later, in early 1967, no. 100 was taken over by Macari's, in some ways a fitting progression.
At some point around 1968 / 1969 (certainly by October 1969), Macari's enlarged the shop, taking in number 102 next door. 102 Charing Cross Road became the address.
An anecdote kindly sent in a few years ago: "I went to Ireland in early 1966 with my band 'The Next in Line'. We came over to London for a television broadcast sometime in May and I went to Jennings Musical Instruments in Charing Cross Rd. There was a repair shop upstairs and the technician had a sideline in selling amplification without the rating plates. I purchased an AC 100 head very cheaply ( I cannot remember how much!)
"Melody Maker" magazine, 4th April, 1964 - the new AC50 Foundation Bass demonstrated.
An advert for the Jennings shop placed in Melody Maker magazine, 20th and 27th March 1965. The shop as it was in late 1964 is pictured above.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, February 1967.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, March 1967.
Interesting to see that Wedeles bought a "huge pile of spare parts from Jennings". Later on in the March issue, it's noted that Gary Hurst of Tone Bender fame moved into the shop with the Macaris.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, March 1967.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, October 1967. Star Street is off the Edgware Road, not too far from Paddington Station. The premises were still occupied by an electronics shop a few years ago when the Google Street camera car went by (below).
39 Star Street.
A Jennings purchase order (dated 8th February, 1968) made while in the hands of the receivers to Macari's at 100 Charing Cross Road.
"Beat Instrumental" magazine, June 1973, Macaris, Charing Cross Road. Two premises now in one: 100 and 102.
"Beat Instrumental", October 1969. Two shots of the interior of the enlarged shop.
"Beat Instrumental", October 1970: the inside of the Charing Cross Road shop - compare the images above, explicity said to be Charing Cross Road - Vox plentiful.