Record Shop memories

My long-time friend ‘Martin63’ suggested that a page dedicated to the record shops of High Wycombe would be a great way of stirring memories – so here it goes.

For fans of live music, alongside the actual live music venues themselves and the pre-gig pubs, the next most significant places were probably the local record shops. High Wycombe has been blessed with a number of record shops over the years the names that spring to mind are; Percy Priors, Scorpion, Venus and most recently Counter Culture.

If you have any memories, pictures or memorabilia relating to the record shops in High Wycombe, please reply to this post or get in touch via the contact page.

By way of jogging some memories, this is what I can remember.

I’m assuming that the first record store in High Wycombe was Percy Priors in White Hart Street?  A picture from the SWOP website show this shop dating back to the mid 1950’s.

White Hart Street (circa 1957) with Percy Priors on the right – picture from swop.org.uk ref 33593

When the Octagon Shopping Centre opened in the late 1960’s, Percy Priors opened another shop on the upper floor specialising in instruments and sheet music.  The record shop continued in White Hart Street but later became Harlequin Records and then Our Price.

Elsewhere in the Octagon, there was Derek Records (this later became Venus Records).  This was situated in Octagon Parade and close to Mike Keen Sports.

There was also a record stall at the market held in an area behind the old bus station and next to the original location of Sainsbury, in the Octagon shopping centre.

Perhaps the most famous record shop in High Wycombe was Scorpion Records along the Oxford Road.  Scorpion opened in late 1977/early 1978 next to Sun Music.  Scorpion bought and sold second-hand records and cassettes but also quickly became the main outlet for tickets for local gigs – particularly Aylesbury Friars.  For high demand gigs it was not uncommon to have queuing along the pavement outside.

Another record selling outlet opened at a similar time to Scorpion. Rising Sun records was situated at the rear of Wycombe Fayre – a small indoor shopping area that opened in the middle of 1977 on the site of the original Woolworth’s store on Church Street.  Rising Sun was a regular meeting point for music fans and had a great selection of punk and new wave singles.  In 1979 ‘Rising Sun Records’ a released a double A side single featuring local punk bands The Xtraverts and Plastic People – that is now a collector’s item.  Rising Sun eventually closed, with Wycombe Fayre being replaced by The Chiltern Centre in 1987.

It was back in 2006 that Scorpion shop owner Jeff Amor was finally forced out to make way for an expanded Sainsburys.  Co-workers Stegg and Cheryl kept the independent flame alive with Counter Culture in Desborough Road but that was eventually hit by the trend towards digital downloads and closed down in 2015 – thus Wycombe was left without an independent record shop for the first time in more than 50 years.

Filmmaker John Rogers made a video in late 2004 documenting the existence of Scorpion Records. It is a wonderful piece of social history.

7 thoughts on “Record Shop memories”

  1. Scorpion was always my favourite Paul but Venus was always a good place for new releases at decent prices. During the ‘format wars’ of the late 1980s when every release seemed to be 7 inch, 12 inch, picture disc, cd single and even came with a free t shirt etc Venus tended to have them all. I even recall getting a Captain Sensible 12 inch with a free stick on beard! Venus was also where a I bought my first cd single – The Damned’s cover of Love’s ‘Alone Again Or’

  2. Pete Key will post some of his Wycombe record shop memories soon Paul – and maybe Beaconsfield and Chalfont too as he had quite a few years flogging vinyl and later cds in Bucks in the 80s and 90s! This link goes to some great record shop bag images that I found on the British record shop archive. http://www.britishrecordshoparchive.org/buckinghamshire.html. Click on the bag and it takes you to the story of the shop. It includes an early Percy Prior’s bag from White Hart Street (near Murrays!) and a Scorpion bag too. I know it’s not Wycombe but Buck’s Music Stores from Slough too is a great bag design – back in the days when Slough was still Bucks not Berks! Also featured is Slough Record Centre on the Farnham Road which was a great, very large, independent record shop. A chart return shop too that catered to a lot of DJays. Always a great selection at good prices. I seem to recall it’s 10 years now since it finally closed……I’m enjoying the site. Great to see Wycombe Gigs taking off!

    1. Great Site Paul! & some very interesting posts, Cheers Martin!
      I do have some fond memories of my time working in a couple of the Record shops in Wycombe in the early 1990’s. I first started in “Record World” in Chalfont St Peter, a little independent family run store in the High Street & a Gallup chart returns shop. With myself, Warren & Louise behind the counter, it seemed to be a favourite stop for many record company reps to come in for a chat & a cuppa! as well as trying to promote their latest LP’s, 12″, 7″ & CD singles they were pushing that month. Being a Gallup store, it was not uncommon for the reps to offer us various “freebies” such as White Labels, Vinyl Promo’s, T-Shirts & Gig tickets to put their latest releases through the chart returns “bar code” reader & push them up the charts a bit! To this day i’d say that half of my own record collection was given to me free as a bribe by the reps to push their latest bands up the charts! It was always good fun working there but sadly it was towards the start of record shops decline throughout the UK.
      Another good local independent record shop around in the 80’s & 90’s was “Atlantis records” on Gregories Road in Beaconsfield. Run by Jeremy, it had a little bit of everything, good knowledge of all genre’s & a traditional feel that a local record store should have. On occasion, i would pop over to Atlantis Records from Record World to swap some stock with Jeremy if certain titles were moving slow for either of us.
      Shortly after the closure of Record World in Chalfont i moved on to “Our Price Records” in the Octagon shopping center & the atmosphere was a little different but still enjoyable. Gone was the independent feel of a “Local” record store & in was a big push towards shifting boxes & hitting targets! Some of the reps i knew from my time at “Record World” would pop in occasionally but ordering & promoting had moved to phone sales & the rapport had been lost a little between the Shop & the reps!
      At this time in the early 1990’s, I believe that “Our Price Records” still owned the shopping unit in White Hart Street & they decided to open up a shop called “Surplus Records” on the site for a while. It was a little more like an independent store & would take in the stock from other “Our Price” stores from around the UK that was not selling particularly well. Over two floors with Vinyl upstairs & CD’s on the ground floor, myself & a colleague, Chris, would run this little store almost like a Pop-Up shop for a few months at a time. There would always be a few gems available if you had the time to go crate digging!
      In the mid 1990’s it seemed that “Our Price” along with many other record stores were having a hard time of it & i think “Zavvi” ended up taking over the “Our Price” unit in the Octagon for a while. I had moved to “Lakes TV & Hi-Fi” a few doors down from “Scorpion Records” in Oxford Road by this time, but i would still see a number of familiar faces from the record shops around Wycombe coming into “Lakes” for their Hi-Fi needs. Among them would be Jeff & Stegg from Scorpion getting a bit of info on the latest Hi-Fi & video equipment & i was quite often to be found in Scorpion in my lunch break picking up the latest 4AD release that Jeff, Stegg & Cheryl had kept under the counter for me. Happy Days.
      A great friend of mine to this day, that i met & worked with at “Lakes”, Dave Rogers, also ran a record store in Wycombe with one of the record company reps i used to deal with back at Record World in Chalfont, his name was Kane! I think the unit was where “Venus Records” stood, but i’ll let Dave add his memories of this time in due course.

      1. Great stories Pete – I can recall asking one of the staff in the White Hart Street ‘Our Price’ to save me a Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls poster in 1980 and the Banshees ‘Once upon a Time’ album poster too the next year. That shop was where I bought what I think was my first full price album – the Tom Robinson Bands’ ‘Power in the Darkness’ in 1978. It was a rubbish pressing and I had to take it back! People are very fond of vinyl nowadays (including me) but some of the major label pressings were very poor. Paul and I are going to see TR in December – that will be 40 years on from my first gig, TRB at the Town Hall in 1977, that I went to with Andy Chalk. I think the first gig I went to with Paul was the next TRB Town Hall appearance in April 1979 that was broadcast by the BBC. The long narrow shape of both ‘Our Price’ (and of course the ‘Harlequin Records’ before it) as well as Scorpion always seemed to add to the mystique of those shops. I suspect it was a pain in the neck for the staff though and a modern day ‘Retail Space Optimisation Consultant’ would no doubt be appalled!

Leave a Reply