Tag Archives: Pye Records

Behind the scenes at Pye Records in 1959

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 23rd October, 1959, page 3.

Behind-the-scenes for your favourite “pops”

IT IS A RECORD-MAKING BUSINESS By Wendy Scott

The green light flickers in a cafe jukebox, an automatic grab arm selects a record and the music plays out of the loudspeaker.

The foot-tapping crowd who listen to their favourite “pops” are not really concerned with how that spinning disc began it’s life or with the marvel of music that is translated from the minute grooves.

Yet the manufacture of gramophone records is an important industry today, with the various companies striving to woo the public with their current releases and gimmick productions.

Since the war, sales have far surpassed the wildest dreams of production managers. Today the factory workshops hum with constant activity in order to keep retailers supplied with large stocks of classical, jazz and other popular music discs.

Pye Records Ltd., whose factory is at Western Road, Mitcham, follow production methods that are typical of the disc industry.

Here thousands of records daily are pressed, packaged in colourful glossy covers, checked and sent out to waiting delivery vans.

The story of how records are made – with the combined skill of the factory’s several hundred employees – is complicated, yet interesting.

The heart of the factory is away from the main office block. It is here, in a secluded room that the taped music is initially transferred on to a lacquer coated aluminium disc. Surrounding the operator are various dials and control knobs which modulate tone and quality.

INTO TUBE

The recording room has all the atmosphere of a science fiction setting. As the sapphire needle on the master cutting lathe gouges into the soft lacquer it is converting the electrical impulses from the tape back into vibrations and inscribing them into the surface of the acetate disc.

The gouged out surplus material is fed into a tube collects at the back of the machine in a large bottle.

The master acetate, as it is termed, then undergoes some beauty treatment – a little harsh, perhaps as it is mainly bathed in a chemical solution.

For the technically minded, it is coated with a silver solution and placed in electro-plating bath. It is then treated by workers wearing rubber gloves to prevent injury from the acids, and lowered into a bath where copper anodes are suspended. The reverse side of the metal disc is made in the same way, forming the two halves of the record.

The record, still in a metal state, but polished and trimmed, is then transferred to the pressing department. Here numerous operators sit at the pressing machines. At their side is a sack of plastic composition crystals looking rather like grains of rice.

This is weighed according to size of the record and then gently warmed on an electric hot plate which is reminiscent of the household gadget.

The operator sandwiches the plastic ball between two record labels, clamps the nickel prototypes together and the record emerges.

Near the pressing department are a few operators who hole the records and make incisions so that they may be played on American and other record players that differ from English makes.

CHECKED

Nearby, in soundproof boxes lined with acoustic tiling, a selection of finish records are played through to check for irregularities in sound.

Fifteen girls – most of them live in the Mitcham and Tooting area, – then receive the discs for final checking and wrapping. The discs are dusted and sleeved with paper or polythene protective covers.

They are then neatly slipped into the glossy covers into the packaging department and dispatch department.

So next time you walk into your local record store to select a disc, remember the work and processing necessary before your favourite song or classical suite is brought to the living room.

Barry Hopkins

Described in the Mitcham News & Mercury as aged 19, singer from Mount Road, Mitcham.

He visited Pye Records in March 1970 to promote his single.

Pop singer visits record factory

Barry Hopkins, the 19-year-old Mitcham singer, visited Pye Records Ltd., Western Road, Mitcham, recently to help promote his debut disc, “Love Ya, Want Ya, Need Ya.“

The record, which is being published on a Sparks label and being distributed by Pye, sold over 2,000 records in one week. Sales have now reached the 3,000 plus mark.

During this month he will be doing a television programme in the Channel Islands and will also be doing cabaret there for an evening.

While in Liverpool recently he did two radio shows, one for Radio Merseyside and the other for European Services.

During February Barry made three appearances at the Tower, Blackpool where critics compared his talent to that of such accomplished artists as Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard.

His record, which people are predicting as a chart buster, is also doing well in Germany.

Barry, who lives in Mount Road, has always wanted to be in show business. He was spotted by Herbert Wilcox, while playing Kipps in the Wimbledon Players’ production of “Half a Sixpence.”

He was then put in touch with Ben Lyon, who is now his agent and manager, and things have just snowballed for him ever since. All his fans will be pleased to know that work is to begin shortly on a follow-up record.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th March, 1970

List of records by Barry Hopkins.

He died of cancer in January 2014, aged 64. For more on his career see on this pantomine blog (scroll down to 9th January 2014 entry).

1973 Elton John visits Pye record factory

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 30th November, 1973.

Elton John visited the Pye record factory on Monday 26th November, 1973.

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road … hello Western Road, Mitcham.” This could have been the theme of a visit made by the top pop star Elton John when he visited the Pye Factory, Western-road, Mitcham on Monday and watched some of his discs being pressed. Pictured with him is supervisor Mr Ken Spink.

1970 Sacha Distel visits Pye Records

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 24th April, 1970.

Sacha Distel visited the Pye record factory on Monday 20th April, 1970

A treat for the girls at Pye

The girls at the Pye record factory, Mitcham, had a special treat on Monday when the French singer Sacha Distel visited them on a promotion trip for his latest album called simply, “Sacha Distel.”

Visits from celebrities, however, are all in the day’s work at Pye’s. A couple of weeks ago World Cup star Geoff Hurst toured the factory to meet his fans and sign the record he has made with the rest of the World Cup squad – “Back Home.”

If Geoff Hurst was “smashing” according to Mrs. Irene Brown, who had her photo taken with his arm around her, Sacha Distel was even more so. Everyone knows that Frenchmen have a certain charm but as women the world over will tell you, M. Distel has more than most.

Suprisingly enough Sacha started life in a record company and has always been aware that the production of a record is very much a team effort. He said: “It is always nice to meet the people who work with you. After all, where would I be without them?”

At present Sacha is appearing at the Savoy but he hopes to do a stint at the Palladium in October. The Palladium, he says, gives him more of a general audience and the audience is something he loves. For this reason he is not particularly keen on films. “I have already made two,” he said, “and if someone asked me I would make another, but I really prefer the stage.”

And what do you think of English girls? “Very nice,” he said.

Pye Records

From 1959 to 1980 vinyl records were pressed and distributed from Pye Records in

James Estate
132 Western Road
Mitcham
Surrey CR4 3UT

formerly the Holborn Union workhouse, on corner of Bond Road and Western Road.

1977 fire photo on Merton Memories.

For a list of records produced by Pye Records see this discography website.


Articles in Mitcham News & Mercury

Date Page Headline
23/10/1959 3 It is a record making business
12/11/1965 11 Singer Anita Harris visits factory
13/03/1970 Barry Hopkins, Mitcham pop singer visits record factory
24/04/1970 1 Sacha Distel’s visit
26/11/1973 1 Elton John visits factory
24/06/1977 1 £2 million factory blaze
08/07/1977 60 Factory fire – still a mystery
09/03/1979 57 Row over factory noise
20/06/1980 1 Plan to take over Pye

Adverts

1972

1972

Norwood News – Friday 14 December 1962

CAREERS IN ELECTRONIC COMPUTERS

An excellent opportunity exists for a recent Grammar school leaver with an A level in mathematics to obtain a remunerative career in the application of electronic computers. Full training will be given as well as opportunities for the practical workings of a computer; this position carries ample opportunities for advancement and good starting salary will be paid.

Apply in confidence to : The Financial Controller.
Pye Records Limited.
132 Western Road.
Mitcham