Tony Darke's Account of Working in Selmer's Theobalds Road Factory).

I have very fond memories of working at Theobald Road. I started there in December 1965. I was taken on by Dick Twydell as a wireman assembler, the only guy working with about nine or ten women. That was rather daunting to a shy 16 year old lad, but they were very sweet. Some names that I can remember were Ronnie, Yvonne, Sue, and Mary. Mary was an inspector. The Production Manager was Tom Sawyer, who was a tall man with a voice like a Sergeant Major. He used to F... and Blind at everyone; a practice that would not be considered very P.C. these days! The models that I first started on were the Treble 'N Base 50, the Zodiac 50 and the Thunderbird 50.

I used to talk to John Weir, John Crocker, and Allan Baldwin, who all worked in the Test Department, about my interest in electronics and after about six months on the wiring bench I was offered a position as a trainee Test Engineer. I really enjoyed the job, especially as I had a keen interest in music. I used to talk for hours to with John (Crocker) and Allan, and they put me onto the music of Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Chet Atkins, Wes Montgomery, and Charlie Byrd. I also remember listening to Allan and John having jam sessions at lunch time in their test cabin. John Weir encouraged me to go to night school and study for the City & Guild Examination, which I did obtain. I am still into electronics forty years later, thanks to him. As I got more proficient, I started carrying out repairs to gear that was brought in by the bands that used Selmer gear, such as Pink Floyd, The Mindbenders, The Artwoods, and Unit 4+2. Unit 4+2's roadie, called Bill, was really friendly. He had been responsible for the record "I was Kaiser Bill's Batman, which he explained had been done for a laugh. (ED: It was recorded by Billy Moeller who called himself "Whistling Jack Smith" and actually got to No 5 with it in the UK Charts.)

Another character that I can remember is Felix, who was the supervisor in the Boxing Department which assembled the amps and speakers into their cabinets. He was Polish, and a little excitable!  Then there was Charlie who was the guitar repairman. He always had Gibsons and Epiphones in for repair, and he showed me his trick of how to get the pickups, controls, and output socket through the F-holes of a semi acoustic guitar. Not a mean trick! There were also the guys who worked in the Lowry Organ Department; a real bunch of characters!

Towards the middle of 1967, Selmer amplifier sales were suffering, with the majority of muscians opting for Marshall, Fender, and Vox gear, which was a shame as Selmer amps were very well built with proper wooden cabinets and excellent speakers (including the Celestion G12). I was eventually made redundant in June 1967. I kept in touch with Allan for a while, but finally moved back to Essex and lost touch with him. However, I have fond memories of my time at Selmer, and I am glad that they have had a resurgence in the current vintage market. I was reading an American magazine called Tone Quest which featured a collector who owns a huge collection of vintage Selmer amps, including the Little Giant and other croc-skin covered beauties. It's nice to see the name kept alive. Thanks for the memories.

Tony Darke