Remembering the old record shops of Leeds


My assignment from the Community Reporters Course, or my mission, should I choose to accept it, was to sign up for a new social media account and write a story from a social media site I already use.

I’m on Friends Reunited. Look me up, Kenneth Ingram Hunslet Carr School 1953-63.

This is a social media site I’ve used for quite some time. The Old Hunslet Carr school reunion started 10 years ago, as we looked up old school mates to join the group. It’s held on the first Tuesday in every month at Hunslet Sports & Social Club. There is a post elsewhere on South Leeds Life about these reunions.

Our remit was to tell a story from a social web site we already use. Looking at the music part of the Friends Reunited site, reminded me of when I left school and had a short spell working for a tailoring company. Then after a few months, started work for Vallances (some people knew it as Vallance & Davison). Vallances were known as the biggest independent family owned electrical retailer, at that time.

After working with the delivery team for about a year, started work on the Small Electrical and Record department. This really is where my story begins, although poorly paid as shop assistants, where and I believe still are in some stores, to me was the best job in the world.

The Batchelors sign records in Vallances August 1964. Photo courtesy of
The Bachelors sign records in Vallances August 1964.
Photo courtesy of West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds, ref WYL 5000/119

Many artists and bands that were playing nearby at the Odeon, Queens Hall & Leeds University (refectory) visited Vallances to sign records for the public. So I got to see many of these artists and bands and get autographs. I also got many demos of songs, which bands where asking our opinion on, or just a demo of a record due to come out. If I had saved these, they would now be worth a fortune. I also got free tickets for many of the gigs. I used to love going to the University on a Saturday night. I saw The Who, who at that time had the reputation of being the loudest band ever. Watching bands, with speakers two feet away from us, it’s no wonder I’m partially deaf.

The other well-known record store in Leeds was Virgin Records. Just a small store on King Edward Street. Virgin records specialised in importing records from other countries that never got released in the UK or released a few months before us.

I remember queuing outside Virgin Records for two days (alternating with a lady friend) to get tickets to see the best rock’n’roll band of all time, Led Zeppelin. They were appearing at Earls Court in London. Recently Led Zeppelin again did a gig at the O2 in London. Millions went on line to get tickets, and me. Only, I believe, 20,000 where of course lucky enough to get them.

Anyway back to Vallances, it had a coffee bar (typical 60’s style), next to the record department, which customers used all day it would seem coming in for drinks and lunch and listen to records. On a lunchtime, one day a week, we would go and listen to more records at the Mecca, Mecca Arcade, where Jimmy Saville was DJ.

Woolworths was on Briggate not too far from Vallances at the Corn Exchange. Woolworths sold the top 20 pop records by unknown artists, for a couple of bob cheaper than the original artists. I never did this, as I got staff discount on the originals anyway.

Me and many of my mates would also record on cassette the top 20 which was on BBC radio on Sunday afternoon. Many tried to stop the recording between tracks to cut out Alan Freeman, so we could have a continues music tape without interruptions.

I worked for Vallances until they were sold to Rumbelows in 1986. By that time I was one of the buyers for the group, when I was buying around £30m of goods a year.

Being made redundant (Rumbelows had their own buyers), I started up my own Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Business. I was in business for 24 years until two years ago when I had to retire early due to ill health. I’m now enjoying life in a sheltered flat. Being retired is like being on holiday all the time. I’m pleased to say I have been in employment or Self-employment for all my working life. I have loved every minute of it, well nearly every minute.


This article was written by Kenneth Ingram using our Community Reporters website

3 Replies to “Remembering the old record shops of Leeds”

  1. Ken, I still have the first LP I ever bought and it was from the shop you worked in. How funny, you might have sold it to me. I also went to the Uni every saturday night. Small world 🙂

  2. It is a small world indeed. Been to the Belle Isle in bloom committee meeting today. 2 new members I knew them both. So as you say a small world. See you next Wednesday.

  3. Hello Ken, What a pleasant surprise to see your script, I started work at Vallances with you and Reg Walton, on Saturdays, on the small electrical counter, and repairs, on the first floor at New Market Street branch, in 1969. I also remember Les Marvill, Dave, Mr.Mathie, and John Somebody, who was his deputy. Did that Mullard Valve tester ever work correctly? Happy memories.
    Roy Walker.

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