Firstly, myself, I started in the sound industry way back in 1967, valves in amplifiers were on the way out and the ‘modern’ transistor was replacing them.

Now before progressing there is one thing I will point out, I have a good memory on most things except dates so I will try to avoid any precise dates unless I can be 100% sure that they are right

In the first few years we tried a number of different manufacturers and used a few Grampian, Magneta, Millbank (Tony Walker), and via a distributor called Golding we found TOA and a man called Harry Greenaway.

Who in the industry hasn’t heard of Ken Faure when talking 100-volt line speakers, we bought off him and his via many different companies over a period of time and this brought me into contact with David Hopkins.

Just a brief potted personal history, I worked for a national telecoms company (Modern Telephones – who became part of Shipton Automation) they rented, sold and maintained a wide range of products including PA and radio paging (these were back in the days of loop wired systems (Telefunken) and also some time control systems.

I did not think I could progress and whilst looking for another job spotted a local Time Recorder company looking for a trainee time recording engineer, it looked interesting so I duly applied and got an interview.

The company was incorporated back in 1947 and was owned by a Yorkshire man Mr G V Pickup, the man interviewing me was in fact his son in law who ran the company. He was Geoff Young and had modern ideas to offer the very latest time control systems but also saw a place in the companies range for communication products.

So I was employed to work on the time side of the business but also to start up the communications side. In fact the first systems we supplied were done under the North East Time Recorders Ltd name however a new company, Blaydon Communications Ltd. was registered.

One of the hardest things I remember was sorting out suppliers and products, no Internet back then! but through trade magazines and such things as Kelly directories and Barbour index a range of equipment was sourced.

Many companies have gone or been bought up by others, and some still exist here’s a few names to remind you – Interphone, Silk & Mackman, Intercom Nottingham, Delta Sound, Modular, Stentofon, Grampian, Magneta, Ken Faure, Bell Systems (Telephones), Goldring, Barkway, Audix, Clarke & Smith, B and J Stevenson Induction Loops,

Also as time progressed we became members of the APAE and COMSA. - More about this organisation later.

Blaydon Communications Ltd continued to increase its range of products and installations, for a brief time we sold, installed and maintained telephone systems following BT’s monopoly going. We were in fact the first company to install a system (Vision) as a test site in our own premises and later other manufacturers were used.

Another change in equipment availability and BT regulations saw us in the telephone answering equipment market, firstly with Storacall equipment and then with Panasonic and eventually many others (more later).

We also developed another side to the business, we were appointed distributorship for many types of equipment and were able to offer them to the ‘trade’ with the relevant trade discount, Companies ranged from UK manufactured (Delta Sound, ADS, etc) to international companies such as TOA.

This side of the business brought me into contact with the trade throughout the North East of England and met and became friends with lots of the people that were and still are the heart and soul of the sound industry.

I was happily looking forward to retiring and had originally planned this happening at between 50 to 55 years of age, however due to prior ‘financial’ problems in the market place, which in simple terms meant my pension pot was not as full as it should have been I it looked nearer the 55 age.

However in the middle of this Geoff Young suddenly decided to retire, this left a number of options open but the one we decided on was that of a management buy out. With 4 other members of staff we had only about 6 months to sort everything out, which thankfully we managed to do. I should mention that the accountant we choose and solicitors were fantastic and helped us throughout.

Anyway the buyout took place and we managed to pay everything off in 3 years, I of course then promptly announce my retirement was next on the agenda and this was planned to take place only when the company and remaining directors could afford to complete the deal. It took 3 years in total but eventually I retired form NETR and BCL at the end of March 2008 at the age of 61.

I then started up a Photographic Company
(Digifocus Photography) with Jack Chen and also a consultancy in the sound industry.