Music Shops

Music shops were where we all hung out, looking at the gear, looking cool and .. occasionally buying the odd item.

There were a number of notable shops -
A1 :: Barratts :: Godleys :: Highams :: Johnny Roadhouse :: Mamelok :: Mazel Radio :: Mayle and Harrison :: Renos :: Stock and Chapman :: Music Exchange :: Reynolds :: RSC :: Tony Savilles :: Nield and Hardy :: Forsyth :: Rhythm House :: Nield and Hardy :: Reynolds :: Guitar Player, Rochdale :: Midgelys :: Mary's Music Accrington


Also look at Shudehill Memories - Godleys, record market stall and those great radio/electronics shops.  Bought a couple of Fan 12" there.  Plus my Elpico 2 watt stereo amp!


Mayer and Harrison
Jackson Street, Hulme
Near the BBC studios (remember Pop North with Gaye Byrne and Bernard Herrman and the NDO), the shop and its location has long since disappeared due to redevelopment.

Tony Lingard, however, well remembers the shop, having bought his first bass there. A Burns for 15 quid.

Burning the candle at three ends gigging around the London jazz scene 1959-1962 I returned with some reluctance to Manchester and spent almost one year hardly leaving the house gradually getting my head together.

The first day job a got was working at Mayer and Harrison. What an establishment - Dickensian with brass might just about describe it - owned by the redoubtable Mr.Mayer. Brass was for him; brass instrument-wise and what made the ancient cash-register ring. He was I think, under the hard northern businessman persona, a kind man but business and profit was for him a very serious matter and his eye was always firmly fixed on what we would call during this current era - The Bottom Line. His small foibles included a single-bar electric fire to heat the entire shop. Recycling all string and brown paper. Paying very low wages. Regarding the concept of a lunch hour as a hopelessly modern conceit.

The shop premises where in a very poor state of repair but were nevertheless a combination of museum and an almost buried treasure. There were room after room of brass band instruments in various stages of disrepair ready to be refurbished in the equally Dickensian workshop he owned just down the street from the shop.

Really interesting for me where the many pitch-paper parcels tucked away in various corners. Strange brass instruments with multiple crooks and slides. Bugles with stops similar the one favoured by a member of the Alberts. There were dozens of these instrumental curiosities. I sometime wonder what happened to them.

I freely admit the year I spent there was an education. It provided me with sharp exposure to the realities of business and the making of profit. Encounters with a very sober world referred to then as 'The Movement' that is the brass band world and something that I am sure has long ceased to exist in that manifestation. Superb musicians who earned their living in factories and mines. Portly gentlemen with a great sense of their own importance the members of sundry organising committees.

After one year of doing my six days a week - with no lunch hour (it reminded me to some extent of my time in the RAF and the 'We can take it ' attitudes you would experience in the ranks) I succumbed during a particularly cold December - the one bar electric fire - to a very bad case of tonsillitis and thus ended my brief and I must admit interesting career in the employment of Mayer and Harrison.

There is a sense in which the disappearance the shop and the very street in which it stood is a fitItng closure on a time and a world that seems ever more remote.

Peter Maguire

In 1965 Mayer and Harrison's gave me 50 pounds for a harmony 358 and sold me for an extra 20 pounds, a Gibson 330. I still have the guitar today, playing in Austalia - it's perfect and was the best deal I have ever made.

I was sorry to hear Grahame from A.1 music had passed away, he was a great guy and I bought a lot of gear off him.

Alan Roberts


 Highams Harmony House

A friend of mine worked there and talked me into buying a Fender Precision bass (I was playing a Fender six string bass at the time), but I didn't like it, it wasn't anywhere near as good as the Jazz bass I used to play so I took it back and asked for my money back, and believe it or not they gave it me back !

Butch Mepham

I remember Highams from about 1963, I bought a Hofner Verithin bass guitar, (my first bass), a lovely cherry red colour. It was £49 and my dad signed as guarantor and put down the deposit,(£5-12-6.)and I had to pay 12/6 a week for ever! I only earned £2-12-3 a week as an apprenticed electrician, and my mum had the 2 quid for my board. Happy days!

Chris Evans

Could the guy, Geoff Parkinson & possibly Butch Mepham, refer to,  be Terry Morton? I'm sure he worked there around this period, He was also a member of The Paiges & later The Country Gentlemen & The Scorpions ?

Phil Roberts

Personally I could never work out the reason for the location of this shop. I worked at CWS around the corner and passed it almost every day (on the way to the chippie, that did 3/3d specials of pie and chips, tea and bread and butter) and it always seemed to be in the wrong place.

Did anyone ever buy there? I presume it must have been a popular place in the early sixties but it was way off the Oxford Road muso route.

Mal Thompson bought there - here's a copy of his HP agreement!


"Higham's was interesting, there was a guy worked there called Terry, who I still see around South Manchester. It's location was in the area where all the electronics suppliers, Globe Radio, and Newcross Supplies are the only two I can recall, and hi-fi shops, Godley's (owned by Kevin Godley's family) was also on Withy Grove. Higham's auctioned off their remaining gear and closed in the early 70s.

In the same area there was a very tiny music shop, that I can't remember the name of, on a little street called Sugar Lane, now swallowed up by the Arndale! "

I have fond memories of Highams Music on Shudehill. My first ever job was repairing hairdryers at Pifco who had a warehouse/office opposite.

During the dinner hour we used to sit on the steps and the current guitarist of Johnny Martin and the Paiges (whose name escapes me) used to bring in his Colorama guitar and show off to us lesser mortals. He was very good at Buddy Holly style rhythm and lead and inspired me to stick at it.

I remember going over to Highams window to ogle at a Harmony bass (Ronnie Lane/Spencer Davis style) which I think was 45 guineas and way out of reach for a kid earning a measly £2.50 a week

Geoff Parkinson


My first guitar came from Highams (for 38 guineas). An anonymous (probably Japanese) twin pickup solid in red and white with tremelo. No maker's name on it except for a fancy letter 'Z'at the top of the neck. It's still in the back of the wardrobe!

Also ventured into Reno's some years later and ended up with a 'Ranger' 12-string acoustic. still got this also. I'm a hoarder!

Tom Bancroft

I remember Highams, although the only thing I recall buying there was a shaped hard guitar case at the auction when the shop closed. I had recently acquired a yellow sunburst Gibson 330 with the financial assistance of my uncle and to the annoyance of my wife and only had a plastic cover for it. I wonder what that guitar would be worth now had I kept it!

Bob Ainsworth


The Music Exchange

Situated on the corner of Oxford Road and Portland Street, the Music Exchange stocked sheet music for those muso's who could read.

Me? I can remember buying Tommy Quickly's "Walk the streets at night". Why? It was reduced.

Now situated in St. Peter's Square.

Wasn't there another in Boot's Arcade?

The Music Exchange. Spent many, many hours in that old shop looking through boxes of bargain sheet music. Little light classical pieces which I used to then play on piano to my ballet teacher aunt, Joan Bates in Stockport, for her to weave her magic with. Late 60s / early 70s.

I forget the name of the family but do remember us doing a kids party entertainment for the younger generation years later in the 1980s around Bramhall area. What I remember in particular was the owner, - a gent of advancing years, used to stand on a balcony looking down at everyone in the packed out shop on a Saturday afternoon, probably making sure nothing ever got nicked. To the best of my knowledge no other Branch. The one in an Arcade was Wright Greaves I think.

Yeah, to readers like myself that shop was pure gold. They had all the latest pop covers on the main counter at about 5 shillings or 6 shillings and sixpence each.  

Tony Gayle

Tony Saville's

Tony Saville's shop was located round the corner from Oxford Street facing the side of the Midland Hotel - a later shop opened in the mid 70s. Terry Smith, an excellent electronics engineer previously with Barratt's, went to work for Tony.

I bought an AC30 Top and a 2X12 cab from there. Tony always did a great deal and would drag you into the shop to try some instrument he just bought in.

Sadly he was killed in a Go-carting accident and although Tony's wife tried to keep things going they had to close about a year later.

Oldham Street

RSC may not have been the leaders in group gear but many aspiring muso's would have spent their hard earned cash at the shop on a small but acceptable range of mikes, amps, stands and leads.


We had an amp from RSC and as a first amp it was great. Just a big box with the speakers in and the amp sat on top.

RSC was in Oldham Street, Manchester and loads of groups went there for gear.

Graham Pilkington


OK, it wasn't a music shop but it does have good links to the Manchester scene. The most obvious is that it was owned by the family of Kevin Godley of Mockingbirds, Hotlegs, 10cc and Godley-Creme.

Its also important as many musos would have bought their record decks and hi-fi's from there. Not a great reason but the pic is just so good and brings back many memories.

Nield and Hardy

There used to be a great musical instrument shop in Gortoncross Street off Hyde Road in Gorton Manchester.

It was called Nield and Hardys and sold loads of guitars, amplifiers, drums etc. It was a sad day when Gortoncross Street was knocked down. In fact the whole of Hyde Road shops from Clowes Street right up to Gortoncross Street were demolished and turned into a 'Green Belt'. What a waste!

Belle Vue also came down around the same time or just after, if my memory serves me well! Another disaster!

Leslie Kenneth Marsden

Neild and Hardy was originally on Underbank in Stockport. They had a major fire and had to move.

Tont Roberts

Nield and Hardy

Nield and Hardy's used to be on Gt. Underbank in Stockport.

It was managed by a guy called Geoff. He was a great organist, and used to do demo evenings at the shop.

There was an old cockney guy who worked there called Archie. He was absolutely lovely to us as kids, and never tired of us trying out gear we could obviously not afford !! We would spend most of Saturday there, and he was always great to us. I also remember a studio being opened on the third floor, and sat in as Mike Curtis and the Estelles recorded a session. I clearly remember them recording "Lucille", but can't remember the rest of it.

I had a 2 track reel of the session given to me, and had it for got lost somewhere. I remember buying 2 sound city 100 watt amps and 2 4x12 cabs, plus 2 jap 335 copies on hp from there for my brother and me. They were on hp, and good old Archie signed "guarantor" for us !! imagine that nowadays !! After a serious fire (I think in the early 80's) they closed for good.

Archie will be long gone now, God bless him.

Rob Parkes

I bought a Hofner President Bass from Nield and Hardy's in 1964. I still have it and it is still in excellent shape even after travelling all the way across the ocean to Canada and crossing Canada and the U.S. several times: final resting place near Chicago, Illinois.

I used to go in Nield and Hardy's a lot, (at the time I lived in Denton so it wasn't far to come). They were always very helpful in there and as someone else said, there was never a problem about trying stuff out, even though they knew you could never afford it. There used to be a young guy worked there, (forgotten his name now), and if you bought something such as an amp or a guitar he would always slip a lead in or something. I used to think he was fiddling the store, but looking back on it it made good business sense. Most people would return to the store again and again.

I also bought a 'talking suitcase' there, (Vox AC-30 amp), and then later a Vox T-60 Bass amp. They are long gone. I wonder where they ended up? Anyway, I have to say I miss browsing and playing in Nield and Hardy's. It was an excellent music store!

Chris Birkbeck

The Archie mentioned was my grandfather and the young lad who was free with guitar leads was myself.

I worked there from  14 as a Saturday job and then full time for a couple of years before going into  violin restoration with David Vernons .

It was an interesting place to work  in that it was owned by Vernons Pools and was in effect a nice little tax loss for them . The fire in the eighties was the third that I know of - and my grandfather always said they were deliberate insurance frauds - he saw managers throwing guitars and brass instruments into the back of a truck - 'lost' in the fire - only to turn up as new stock later. I think everyone had an angle - the piano dept. at Oldfield Road were always buying pianos, restoring them in the workshop and then splitting the proceeds. The managers always had nice cars - the best instruments.

I'm pretty sure that 'fiddling' in  the music business was pretty common  in those days - other mates in the trade would tell me similar stories of making a bit on the side.

Martin Taylor

I learned to play on an old downstrung Nield Piano as a child.

Rememember in the mid 1970s going in there to try out and purchase a small 6 octave piano that I was going to use for gigs (yes really!! Now I have a Yamaha that I carry under my right arm!!). It was quite a daunting experience however as blind Jazz Pianist Eddie Thompson - who'd worked all over the place including NY was sat tuning pianos. Eddie played the Warren Bulkeley Jazz Cellar, Stockport every Friday night, and was just one of those guys you never forget. Anyway, I just played a few bars of something - Eddie stopped tuning and listened!! and I said "ok I'll buy it".

Within six months I'd sold it as bass player and drummer complaining of impending hernias - and bought a Vox Continental from the Rhythm House that to my pianist's ears sounded like hell on earth. But it was portable . . .

I also bought my first Philips reel to reel tape recorder from this shop as a teenager.

Tony Gayle




Forysth Bros, Manchester

Forsyth Bros

I first went in the shop in the late 50's and incredibly very little has changed,.

This I was told was because the building is listed. 

As I mentioned in a previous email I bought my gear from
Stock & Chapmans and Barratts.

John Hynes (Pete Maclaine & The Clan 1963-1964) 

Rhythm House
22 Middle Hillgate, Stockport

Anyone remember the "Rhythm House" Stockport?

Owned by Jack Anderson, (who had a big band resident at the Mersey Hotel for years), and managed by Graham King, a great drummer, who was resident at the Domino, and many other venues.

The original shop was near to the site of the Stockport air disaster of 1967, when 80 people died. The plane crashed just behind Strawberry Studios, on Waterloo Road, Middle Hillgate. The shop then moved accross the road, and remained there for many years.

When Jack Anderson retired, Graham Stuart bought the business, and did very well.

I remember Kevin Godley coming in one day whilst I was looking after the shop for Graham, and buying a crappy battery operated box, that made poxy drum type sounds, this was used for the intro on "Rubber Bullets".

Happy days!!! It was £7.50.

Rob Parkes

In the late 80s & early 90s, I think Eric Haydock had some kind of deal/input to the shop. A greating from Eric when you entered the premises was always an occasion, nowt to do with sales or busines.  More important questions i.e. " Will you be partaking in the liquid this evening?" 

Then occasional visits from Dodgy Bob Murdoch, from Yorshire, with exotic guitars, guest appearances from the eccentric Dixie Kidd from Yorkshire with proper Yorkshire accent, flogging all sorts of bits, amps, strings, straps, leads plectums. blackpuddings!!

I have more memories ...


I got ripped off by the Rhythm House in Stockport.

When I was a young lad of 16 in 1976 I bought a Fender Strat from them and was told that it was a 1958 model.

Since the invention of the internet I've found out that it was actually made in 1964. Doesn't bother me though, it's now worth a lot more than I paid for it all them years ago!!


Aha Rhythm House!!!,,,great shop..loved the drum cellar..always had in original kits ...luddy sparkels...remember seeing one of the early perspex kits in orange...i was always sent to the barbers over the road to get my hair cut by a Gerry Rafferty look alike...then popped over the road..before me dad picked me up...

Remember seeing The Smiths, Housemartins, New Order....and others...god bless Strawberry...and Mr Hannett...I still have a Gordon Smith with the R'House sticker on the back of the Headstock!


I had the absolute pleasure of working at the Rhythm House on and off around 89 - 92, great shop, crammed with characters, both customers and staff. Best job I ever had, working for Eric was a privilege, (by god he loved to hoover that place!)

I was sad to see the old shop go from the top of Hillgate when it moved down towards the brewery. The walk to the Red Bull after work was never the same! Eric eventually let me go one Saturday because I was late one too many times, one of many life lessons from Eric that have served me well ever since. One of my most valuable possessions is a guitar I bought from there at the time, not for the guitar itself, but the sticker on the back of the headstock.


And the beat goes on ...

I just bought an old Japanese Precision bass copy. The brand is Fresher. On the back of the neck below tuners is a sticker Rhythm House Music Center, 22 Middle Hillgate, Stockport. Tel.0614807371. The bass is now in Finland. Pictured on the right.

Pekka Kivinen


I just bought a "1961 Hofner Colorama I" (pictured on the right) from gumtree which was located in Lancashire.

I bought it for a side project 50-60s cover band up in Glasgow where I portray John Lennon full time in a tribute band calld Them Beatles.

I was actually learning The Hollies' version of Fortune Teller when I decided to try and find out some information about the shop where it was from. On the headstock is a sticker that shows:

I was pleasantly surprised then to read that Eric Haydock was once involved in the running of the shop. I've attached some pictures in a separate email. Great site! Nice to see that the beat goes on...

Best regards,
Clark ~ Them Beatles



I remember purchasing my Gibson Les Paul 1954 Custom from the New Rhythm House 22 Middle Hillgate in 1975.

I traded a Fender Stratocaster in to be able to raise the purchase price of £395.00.

I got £100.00 part exchange for the Fender and spent a further £12.00 pounds on insurance.

I've still got my Gibson and remember playing around the working mens clubs and pubs around Manchester.

I've attached the receipts I got on the day.

Hope this might be of some interest.

Alan Coverley



Guitar Player

The shop was owned by the Bird Brothers - Peter and his brother (I forget his name).Their real interest was in Bird Bros branded PAs and amps which they either made or had made for them. I seem to remember Peter telling me that they were trying to get into the cruise ship business for some reason.

I first met them when they owned a guitar shop in Oldham and bought my first "real" guitar from them, a 1969 Fender Telecaster Custom in black.I hated that guitar with a passion because it never sounded "right" somehow (Keith Richards would subsequently disagree with this view and cause the value of just such a guitar to rocket...).

When they opened "Guitar Player" in Rochdale in the 70s, it rapidly became a Mecca for all aspiring guitarists due to their policy of only stocking high end new and used American guitars - principally Gibson, Fender and Rickenbacker. Their shop window was a never ending education in both new and more importantly old and obscure models.

Since I knew them and had bought the Fender from them, I did a deal with Peter whereby in exchange for the Fender and £100, I could have the pick of any Gibson SG that arrived instore over the next few weeks.After 3 attempts I finally plumped for a 1971 SG Deluxe in Cherry Sunburst. I now shudder to think of the guitars that I turned down (1961 SG Junior for £150...)but I still have that guitar and, to those that know me, it's my signature instrument.

Thank you Bird Brothers, wherever you are!

Chris Farmer
Lead Guitarist of The Electric Blues Band 1982-1984 


I just a bought 1978 Musicman Stingray 1 guitar which has a sticker on the back of the head saying it was sold by the "The Guitar Player in Rochdale".

I was going to take the sticker off as I had never heard of it but then came across your web site. I have a feeling the shop would have meant a lot to some people so the sticker stays on.

Graeme Mitchell

The other Bird Brother was called Arthur ... a drummer and thoroughly nice chap. He was the owner of the Rickenbacker bass that I played that started my career long affair with the mighty Rick although my 1978 (now faded) white 4001 did not come from the Brothers. Mind you, the 1975 Fender I swapped for it did.

Their first shop was Rock Island on Waterloo Street in Oldham.

Shameless ad......two collegues and I have recently opened Muso's on Yorkshire Street in Oldham to carry on the proud tradition of musician owned shops! If you are in town, call in for a brew and a chat.

Pete Clarke
ex-Wall Street, Smug Fairies, Bite The Dust and others.

The name of the missing Bird Brother is Arthur, he ran the store in Rochdale unril it closed (I knew Arthur well for a number of years personally - not seen him for years now, hows it going Arthur?). 

Strangely enough Arthur was a drummer, and a good one at that!
They also manufactured excellent flight cases. They were (and probably still are) great people to know.

Ian Tattersall

A fantastic shop displaying only quality gear. I understood that they had regular trips out to U.S.A. to precure stocks of vintage gibos, fender, s/gretches, etc. On one trip I came across a new ROLAND GR800 with the blue GR808 box Guitar synth.

I snapped it up & after a few weeks of getting to grips with it (no midi technology then) I took it out on the road with my band CAPRICORN.It was & still is a fabulous piece of kit enabling a 3 piece outfit to have a big sound. I was once nearly sent packing from one venue for using a tape recorder untill I demonstrated to the concert sec. what I was using.

Ken Porter

Guitar Player in Rochdale was where I spent my afternoons when I should have been in lectures at the Tech college down the road.

Dave and Arthur were the two assistants and I poured many thousands of pounds into that little shop over the years. Best buy from them was a beautiful 1988 Japanese Fender Telecaster which I still have.

John Francis





Midgelys Radio

OK not a music shop but in the early sixties the distinction was often blurred with sale of small amplifiers, supply of valves, etc.

Anyway it needed to go somewhere :-)




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