Forging Ahead: Stanton's Music Shop

As part of the BCLM: Forging Ahead development, Black Country Living Museum will be recreating Stanton’s, the iconic music shop that previously stood in the heart of Dudley’s town centre.

The shop was opened by James Stanton at 10 Castle Street in Dudley in 1895. In the late 1950s, much of Castle Street was demolished for Dudley’s town centre redevelopment, including Stanton’s Georgian building – which will be recreated at the Museum.

What we need & how to contact us

Stanton’s music shop sold a range of musical instruments, including brass instruments, electric organs and electric guitars. They later moved on from gramophones to sell radiograms, radios, televisions and record players, as well as records that could be tested on Stanton’s listening booths first.

We are very keen to hear from anyone with memories of the 1950s shop; Did you purchase records, instruments, or electronics from Stanton’s?; or Do you know anyone connected with the Stanton, Howarth or Nash families?.

We are also appealing for people to come forward with 1940s-50s instruments such as guitars, brass instruments, recorders, and musical items including books, music sheets, stands, amplifiers and even advertising signs and materials. If you or anyone you know may have items to donate and help bring this once iconic high street shop back to life, please get in touch with our Collections Team:

  • Tel: 0121 521 5600
  • Email: [email protected] 
  • Post address: Collections Team, Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4SQ 

Items of specific interest:

We are looking for items in the list below that were used or manufactured in the 1940s to late 1950s. 

  • Locally-made musical instruments, such as Jews Harps
  • Recorders and other smaller instruments such as Harmonicas, tambourines and triangles
  • 1950s Guitars – electrical, classical and acoustic 
  • 1950s instruments including brass, woodwind, string, plucked, electrical and acoustic instruments
  • Music records 
  • Record Players and speakers from the late 1950s 
  • Radios from the late 1950s
  • Televisions from the late 1950s
  • Hymn books and sheet music 
  • Music tutorial books
  • Music stands and microphone stands
  • 1950s Amplifiers such as Supersound, Jennings Vox, Bentley, Besson Electone, Selmer, Watkins
  • 1950s shop cash till and a hire purchase till
  • Music window display materials and advertising posters/signs
  • Smaller items including guitar strings, plectrums, straps and capos. Drumsticks, microphones, tuning forks, electric guitar cables

Please note we have kindly received donations of 2 Stanton’s pianos and do not have any capacity for any more. 

James Stanton founded his piano tuning business in Tipton in 1870, and shortly after set up a “pianoforte and harmonium warehouse” on Owen Street. In 1895, he opened a shop at 10 Castle Street, in Dudley. By the 1950s, the shop was in the hands of his daughter-in-law Florence, her daughter Audrey Howarth, and a managing director, Frederick Nash.

In the late 1950s, much of Castle Street was demolished for Dudley’s town centre redevelopment, including replacing the old, Georgian building with a brand new block. It is the older building that will be recreated in the Museum’s new 1940s-60s town centre.

Stanton’s sold a range of musical instruments, including their traditional pianos but also electric organs and electric guitars. They moved on from gramophones to sell radiograms, radios, televisions and record players, as well as records to play on them which could be tested at listening booths first.

Stanton’s enables us to talk about the music and culture of the Black Country in the 1950s, including the rise of rock’n’roll and changing fashions.

We are researching the older building, Stanton’s original shop in Dudley. It gives us the opportunity to display early televisions, record players (like the Dansette, with its changers manufactured by the tens of thousand at BSR in Stourbridge), transistor radios (like those made by Ever Ready in Wolverhampton) and even early reel-to-reel tape recorders. We will be able to demonstrate and invite customers to have a go at playing musical instruments like electric organs and guitars, and listen to records in the listening booth. Through this, we will tell the changing story of Black Country culture: the birth of rock’n’roll, the rise and fall of the teddy boy, and much more.

Thanks to a generous donation of this 1950s Dansette Record player in full working order, with BSR parts made in the Black Country and further donations of 50s records. These items will help to bring the story of Stanton’s Music Shop to life.

After seeing our call out for memories of Stanton’s Music Shop, an eagle eyed visitor spotted this Stanton & Sons piano in search of a new home.

The owner was contacted and has kindly donated the piano which has been in their family since the 1930s to the Museum’s collection. After a re-tune and little bit of cosmetic restoration, we plan to display the piano in Stanton’s shop as part of our BCLM Forging Ahead development.

This payment book was an agreement with Stanton’s for the purchase of a Hausmann piano.

It belonged to Mr & Mrs Hobbs who bought the piano for their son in August 1937. An initial deposit of £1 was paid along with a trade in of their old piano to the value of £4. We can see that payments of around 5 shillings were paid weekly until 1938 when this was increased to £1 a month. The purchase was completed almost 4 years later in February 1941 a total of £43.20 with a signature settled with thanks. 

At the time, the family ran a guest house on Claughton Road in Dudley and welcomed many lodgers who were visiting or performing at the Dudley Hippodrome. Mr Hobbs had an evening job at the Hippodrome operating the curtains. 

They welcomed many stars into their guesthouse even several big names such as Harry Secombe and Julie Andrews’ family. The Hobbs family remember stories of how Julie Andrews enjoyed to play the piano in their guesthouse.

Unfortunately, it is not known where the piano now resides but it was lovely to hear the story and see the payment book from Stanton’s.