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Roburt

CBS Pressing Plant, Aylesbury

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When I was still working (for Thames Water), I used to get jobs in the Aylesbury area a lot. Many times I'd have to attend meetings at TW's works at the end of Rabans Lane. That meant I'd drive past the old CBS Pressing Plant on that road.

CBS moved from their old record pressing plant in Aston Clinton (a village just south of Aylesbury) in 1980, after starting building their new plant on Raybans Lane in 1978. From 1980 onwards, all their rekkids (& some other UK record companies) were pressed up at the Aylesbury plant. Ahead of that move, as I said, they had their factory in Aston Clinton, just to the south of Aylesbury. They'd bought this off Oriole's Morris Levy in 1964 but the plant had actually opened up way back in the 50's.

JUST THINKING ... what great modern soul stuff was manufactured on Raybans Lane in Aylesbury from 1980 till the plant was taken over by Cinram in 2004. I guess some of the guys who worked there ended up taking home old 45 / 12" / LP acetates / test pressings when it was working & again when it was closed down ... 

Anyone from the town come across any old CBS workers who have a stash of rare soul rekkids ?? 

CBSAylesburyPlantMont2.jpg

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No doubt a lot of their workers transferred to the new Aylesbury plant in 1980, after initially being employed at the Aston Clinton facility. Up to 1964, this is where all of Oriole's records were made. 

Thinking about the stuff the staff could have 'taken home' from the new place from 1980 onwards is totally eclipsed by what the guys in the Aston Clinton facility could have gotten hold of ... all the early Oriole America Motown stuff, all the CBS / Direction 60's / 70's soul 45's & LP's  .. plus 70's stuff on Warner Bros, Atlantic, Reprise, Whitfield, etc .... ... bet there were a few priceless 45 acetates & test pressing made in there.

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Edited by Roburt

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Posted (edited)

John Schroeder was Orioles A&R man in the period 1962 to 64 ...    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Schroeder_(musician)

He was the guy behind Oriole's decision to release Motown product in the UK. He had a distinguished 'soul linked' music career ...

SEE ...  http://www.johnschroeder.co.uk/   for more details

He obviously lost his job when Oriole was bought out by CBS but he moved on to Pye Records (1964) and stayed with soul there & later  ... 

 

Edited by Roburt

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Posted (edited)

Rekkids are round pieces of playstick that you put on raydiowgranns. 

You shouldn't have let me know it annoys you, it'll be used even more from now on

                BIG BRO

Edited by Roburt

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A few Oriole 45's from the late 50's thru to 64 ...

Anyone got a Oriole American Advance Copy 45 ?? .. or were Oriole just putting stickers on normal labels by then ?

Oriole45Mont.jpg

Edited by Roburt

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Found a bit more info on the Oriole / CBS set-up in Aston Clinton. I've established where the plant  was in the village, where Oriole's plant managers house was (next to the pressing plant site) & where a record storage warehouse that was certainly used in CBS days was ... see maps ..... 

... at both locations, the industrial buildings were demolished and housing (+ a surgery) erected.

AstonClintonMap5.jpg

 

AstonClintonMap.jpg

Edited by Roburt

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A pic of the Oriole Plant in the village, it had originally been Baker's Garage before the Levy's bought the building in the 50's & converted it into a record pressing plant ... also a pic of two young workers at the place in the early to mid 60's ... I've been told it was a bit of a ramshackle place even back then ... ... NOTHING AT ALL LIKE ... EMI's massive high tech facility in Hayes or the new CBS facility up the road in Aylesbury ... .... 

The street scene in Aston Clinton looks very different today (see modern London Road pic) .. the Rising Sun Pub is now a Chinese restaurant.

 

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Edited by Roburt

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Some years back I used to have a table on Hitchin market. A chap I'd known for many years would come & see me most weeks as I would find him bits & pieces that he collected, he liked vintage advertising items, local postcards, etc. On my table I had a couple of boxes of records and one week he said he had some records in his loft. Every now & then I'd ask him to bring them along, he'd then reply with "Find me something I want & I might do". Anyway, one week I'd found about 8 or 10 old local postcards & I had them at the back of the table. He spotted them & he really wanted them. I agreed to keep them for him until the next week to give him time to go in the loft.

Next week he was there early in the morning. We went over to the car park to his car, he insisted I take my few postcards with me, and he opens the boot up. I nearly fell over it was full of boxes of CBS demo's ! I asked him how he'd managed to get them ? He said he worked for CBS from the mid 60's, he told me he pretty much ran the whole thing. I only got a few records in swaps for the cards, so I asked could I buy the rest ? No you find me some more trades & I'll put them back in the loft for now he said. That was about 12/15 years ago, I see him a couple of times over the following year but not seen him since.

I'd rather not say what I managed to get in swaps that day, but the important thing was we were both happy (-;

 

Edited by pottsy

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Great story Pottsy. Hope you get more from the stash.

I've made contact with some ex workers at the Oriole / CBS plants and they have told me what their work life was like there … I'll pull together the info & post it up here. 

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As stated earlier, the Oriole pressing plant building had once been a garage (Bakers), so it was quite antiquated (when compared to CBS's later facility in Aylesbury). Most people in Aston Clinton village knew each other, so the set-up at Oriole had a very informal atmosphere. Back when Oriole took over the London Rd building (1954) & set up their operation, most people got to work by bike or bus. So the workforce was just about all local. The plant manager lived in a house located next to the factory. If jobs were available with Oriole, staff would tell local family / friends and they would apply & land the posts, so it ran very much on the 'big family' principal. Oriole Records under the Levy's also pressed up the cheap cover versions of current hits on it's Embassy label . Each week, workers were allowed to take a record of their choice home for free. The factory site was opposite to the Rising Sun pub (now the China Water restaurant), so I'd guess on a Friday after work, the lads would have a drink before heading off home. I haven't been able to establish how many people were employed there, but it can't have been that many. The factory was famous in the village for the Christmas parties it put on. Certainly, in CBS days, they took on temporary staff in busy periods, usually older kids in their school holidays (no doubt mainly the children of existing workers). After CBS moved out, it was sold on & used for a while by Leading Plastics who made powder plastic coated parts for cars, so it retained a connection to it's two old uses.  

Going back a bit, things (initially) carried on much as before after CBS took over from Oriole (64). They (CBS) had a storage warehouse in the village as well (don't know if this had been Oriole's before CBS), this was at the opposite end of the village. A local firm, Shorewood packaging printed the record labels for CBS and also made their record sleeves / LP covers, family members of Oriole / CBS workers had jobs there. Even in CBS's days, the workers / locals still called it 'Oriole Records'. After CBS moved to Aylesbury, a company called Leading Plastics took over the building until it was demolished to make way for flats and the local doctors surgery. The plant managers old house (from Oriole / CBS records days) was sold off in 1982 (a couple of years after CBS relocated to their new Aylesbury plant). The people that bought the house found the loft floor space totally lined out with old Oriole record boxes to form a floor that some stuff had been left on. A large number of records were up there still, obviously old stock from the plant (the guy told me had no interest in vinyl, so couldn't remember if it was Oriole or CBS stuff). Also up in the loft was a 'transcribed presentation clock' awarded to the plant's manager (probably when he'd retired). All the records & the clock were just dumped by the house's new owners. The building that had housed the Oriole / CBS plant was knocked down a long time ago, but the managers house lasted till a few years ago (when the new housing estate was being built). 

The warehouse CBS used was located off Brook Street in the village. In 1988, this was being cleared out & locals remember seeing loads of cassettes & some records being thrown into skips. After CBS moved out another company took it over before the warehouse was eventually  demolished. I'm told that it wasn't an old brick warehouse but a fairly modern one. The building was still levelled though & the site cleared, to make way for a small housing estate (a cul-de-sac, Bonham Court). So, the village's connection to the record business ended but many locals still look back fondly on that period.

It must have been great working there for Oriole in the 1962 - 64 period, you'd have been able to take home an Oriole American (Motown) 45 or LP free every week. I believe the policy continued after CBS took over, so you'd then have the opportunity to have Shirley Ellis, Spellbinders, Direction stuff … not a bad perk of the job.  

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Edited by Roburt

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One of the rarest Oriole American 45's  … wonder if there was a box of these in the old manager's house loft ….

… if so, the guy that sent them to the dump was a chump ...

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