c1956 Watkins Westminster 10 watt Amplifier, courtesy of Michael
The Westminster was the first Watkins amp to be produced in any quantity in
1954, following earlier limited runs of experimental models. The earliest versions were apparently in plain grey coverings, probably like
this Clubman. White and black with stars
pattern, maroon & cream and then
turquoise & cream versions followed. Early control panels were black, later ones silver.
Through most of its manufacture period, the Westminster was a 10watt output amp,
usually equipped with tremolo.
There was a period from around 1959 to 1961/62 however when two
versions existed : the usual 10watt single-channel 2-input version, and a 14
watt 2-channel 4-input version with a
control panel and chassis very similar to the Dominator. (A version in a V-front cabinet
apparently also existed briefly.) In this early period, it would seem that a
non-tremolo 10watt version was also produced, but we have yet to find one.
In 1963/64 when Watkins morphed into Wem, the Westminster Mk II acquired a new livery : black cabinet, silver control panel and a decorative aluminium
plate covering the front of the amp. It was seemingly a smaller version of the Custom 15, itself a descendant of the Scout. Examples are rarely
In the late 60s it reverted to being the Clubman's big brother again, first as a larger version of the plain-looking solid-state model with tremolo,
then circa 1972 both re-gained their valves and acquired identical black cabs
with red/gold diamond pattern on black grillcloth and 12" speaker, very
attractive and value-for-money little practice amps. The tremolo was omitted, either to reduce cost or because it was considered old-fashioned by that time It remained in production with some cosmetic changes until the late 70s. There was a bass version with a heavy-duty speaker.
Mid-1950's WATKINS WESTMINSTER AMPLIFIER
I have never seen one like this one before! Is it a prototype? Is it a c1956
amp like the one below that has been "modified"? I'm not sure. It is very
interesting though! It is fitted with the tremolo circuit.
WATKINS WESTMINSTER 15 WATT AMPLIFIER V-FRONT This very rare amp
could well be the immediate fore-runner to the famous V-Front Dominator, or
even its prototype. It uses the same control panel as the two single speaker
10watt combos above, but it has a power stage using two EL84 valves. It also
employs 2 x ECC83 + 2 x EF86 valves in the preamp section, an unusual
combination for a Watkins amplifier. And then of course there are the twin
10" Elac speakers!.
1957/58 WATKINS WESTMINSTER 10 WATT
AMPLIFIER A maroon & cream amp, rarer and seemingly earlier than the turquoise & cream models which followed. This
single-channel 10 watt model would probably have 2 x ECL82 power valves, 1 x ECC83 pre-amp valves and
an EZ80 rectifier. Price circa 15 gns.
Late 1950's WATKINS WESTMINSTER 14(?) WATT AMPLIFIER A
very unusual black and cream ("Black-Star") finished amp that also has a tremolo circuit,
but has two channels. It is powered with EL90 valves, rather than EL84's.
According to Charlie Watkins, only about ten amps in this format were made,
to the acclaim of Jazz players who liked the sound. After the reverting to
EL84's however, the Westminster "then sold like hot cakes"!
c1960 WATKINS WESTMINSTER 14 WATT
AMPLIFIER The twin-channel 14 watt version of the Westminster which seemingly partnered the single-channel 10 watt model from
c1959 until c1962/3, when it became the
Scout. This model is in the most common turquoise & cream covering
which was introduced in around 1960.
Two EL84s provide the extra 4 watts, along with three ECC83 and an EZ81 rectifier.
The chassis is apparently identical to early versions of the V-front Dominator. Price 19gns in the early 60s.
c1960-62 WATKINS WESTMINSTER 14 WATT V-FRONT
AMPLIFIER Charlie Watkins is reported as saying that this version of
the twin-channel 14W Westminster was made only briefly for 6 months or so,
and it is certainly very rare nowadays. This may have been in the period
before it became the Scout (?).
c1962 WATKINS WESTMINSTER 10 WATT
AMPLIFIER As the maroon & cream
model above, but in the later and more common turquoise & cream covering. 2 x ECL82 power valves,
1 x ECC83 pre-amp valves and an EZ80 rectifier. Price 19 gns.
WATKINS WESTMINSTER 10 WATT AMPLIFIER One of the last of the Mk I
Westminsters made. A mint condition amp that still has its original
instructions, manufacturer's Guarantee Certificate, and a copy of the
original Hire Purchase Agreement!
Mid-1960's WEM WESTMINSTER Mk II 10 WATT AMPLIFIER Around 1964, when the transformation into Wem styling became complete, the Westminster acquired a new identity as a smaller version of the
Custom 15 in a plain black cabinet with decorative aluminium facing
and grill covering the entire front. It is assumed that the circuitry remained similar or identical to earlier models. This model is very rare and may have only been produced for a couple of years. Price was 23 gns in the mid-60s.
Early 1970's WEM WESTMINSTER 10 WATT
AMPLIFIER Towards the end of the 60s the Westminster relinquished it's identity as a smaller version of the
Custom 15 in favour of being the Clubman's big brother again, a solid-state model in an undistinguished black cabinet. It stayed this way until c1972. Price £30 10s 0d in the early 70s.
Mid 1970's WEM WESTMINSTER 10 WATT AMPLIFIER (Mk IX) Around
1972 the Westminster got it's valves back and a smart new livery, which it
retained until the late 70s. The tremolo feature was dropped at this point,
either because it was considered old-fashioned by that time or as a
cost-saving measure, possibly both. The cabinet, speaker and control
panel are identical to that of the contemporary Clubman model. Valves: 2 x
ECL82; 1 x ECC83. Price £51.00
in the mid-70s.
Late 1970's WEM WESTMINSTER AMPLIFIER We
are not quite sure where this one fits in with the above models, except that
it was produced sometime towards the end of the 1970's. Can anyone help us
out with more details?