Heslop & Co. Limited

Contract cabinet makers for JMI, 1965-1967

The location of the Heslop Works in Rayleigh, Essex - detail from an Ordnance Survey map

Little is known about the early years of Heslop and Company Limited. Official incorporation came in October 1955, the business: "manufacturer of and dealer in electronic equipment". Quite how long Heslop had traded as a non-registered entity before 1955 is hard to say at present - perhaps as far back as the late 1940s. Businesses generally ran for some time - years and years very often - before registering formally with Companies House.

In October 1958 Heslop became part of the Royston Group of Companies, selling a controlling stake in the company (in the form of shares) in exchange for capitalisation. This was a fairly tried and tested means in the 1950s and 1960s of funding development and expansion. In the report that Royston made to shareholders in 1959, Heslop was described as a "Contract Drawing Office". Evidently the company had many strings to its bow.

Detail from a bound copy of the Royston annual report, 1959.

The story begins to pick up pace in late 1962 and early 1963. In order to raise capital for a new factory at 119 Dartford Road, Tom Jennings effectively did what Heslop had done in 1958 - sold a controlling interesting in his company (JMI naturally in Tom's case) to Royston Industries in exchange for capitalisation.

Heslop however was not Tom's route to Royston. That is more likely to have been someone at Burndept Electronics, a member of the Group from 1960. In the autumn of 1962, Burndept had become one of JMI's main contractors for the assembly of amplifier chassis. All will have fitted together very neatly. One of Royston's stated aims was to help companies within its group work together and if possible supply services to one another (if they were not already).

If Heslop and JMI worked together, or at least for one another, between 1963 and 1965, their collaboration is unrecorded. It may be, however, that Heslop in its role as "Contract Drawing Office" produced mechanical drawings of various types for Jennings. Huge numbers of JMI design and layout sheets for amplifier chassis, speaker cabinets, and so on, have simply disappeared into oblivion.

In late 1964 things changed. Royston, primarily for the benefit of JMI, helped Heslop take over the premises and business of "Timber Techniques" in Rayleigh, Essex, which had produced small runs of cabinets for JMI earlier in the year. What better than to have a cabinet-making business in the hands of another Royston member?

A further consequence of the take-over was the inheriting by Heslop of the right to make Timber Technique's "Gladlyn Ware" (presumably along with much else), Danish-style oiled teak furniture that was hugely popular in the 1960s. Heslop's name was duly added to the patent at some point in 1965, its address given as "Gladlyn Works, Brook Road, Rayleigh, Essex". More on Gladlyn Ware below..

A couple of small thumbnails of "Gladlyn Ware" for orientation.

Detail of the first page of the published patent for "Gladlyn Ware", naming Heslop & Co.

The main purpose of the take-over though, as indicated, was to provide JMI with a continuing flow of cabinets for its amplifiers, speakers, organs, and accessories (echo units and so on), along with bodies and necks for its guitars. Below, a Continental case being made ready for dispatch to the Vox Works at Erith.

One of a series of pictures taken in the Heslop Works in late 1965 / early 1966.

Thanks to Martin Kelly for the two pics above.

Below a label inside a Line Source 40 speaker column of 1965/1966, now stuck to the one of the speakers rather than to the cabinet interior, as is normal.

The standard Heslop label - others can be seen below.

Although Heslop made increasing numbers of cabinets in 1966 and 1967, it was by no means JMI's only supplier. Chief among the others was Henry Glass and Heathpoint Timber. Heathpoint later went on to supply "Vox Sound Equipment Limited", the company formed in the summer of 1968 to take the VOX name forward following the collapse of JMI.

All three companies supplied both fully finished cabinets (with vinyl covering, grille cloth, piping, and so on), and bare wooden cases. The latter were finished at the Vox Works in Erith.

Finishing at the Vox Works, Erith.

Below, pictures taken in the Vox Works, Erith, at some point in or after June 1967. They could be as late as June 1969.

Vox Works, Erith, June 1969

Adding the vinyl covering. In the foreground a Super Foundation Bass. The glue is common or garden PVA. In the background at right, stacks of solid state amplifier section cases awaiting covering.

Vox Works, Erith, June 1969

Conqueror speaker cabinets. Adding the fittings. Note the jig for the drilling of holes for the handle fixings.

Vox Works, Erith
Vox Works, Erith

Said to have been taken at the P.A.Glock premises in Crayford, but this is actually the Vox Works, June 1969, as above. Note the "V" of the "VOX" logo on the work-coat. Ironing the cloth of a Super Foundation Bass baffle - around 17 diamonds wide.

1967 and the end

Detail from Ordnance Survey Map TQ8089A - scale 1:2500.

Detail from the frontispiece of "The Beacon", Journal of the Royston Group of Companies, 1967.

In April 1967, Heslop and JMI shared a stand, under the auspices of Royston, at the Ideal Home Exhibition. Below, the slightly incongruous sight of an AC100 and AC50 (and other Vox equipment) surrounded by sitting room and garden furniture made by Heslop.

Page from the Ideal Home Exhibition catalogue, 1967. "Heslop & Co. have a tasteful range of "Gladlyn Ware" products for the home ...".

The Royston Industries stand at the Ideal Home Exhibition - in view an AC100, and AC50 Foundation Bass, a new Riviera organ, and Phantom bass and guitar.

When the Royston Industries collapsed in December 1967, both JMI and Heslop effectively came to an end. JMI struggled on manfully for some months, finally throwing in the towel in late April 1968. Heslop, being so closely tied to JMI in terms of production, came to an end too (the time unknown at present).

Below, probably what remains of the old Timber Techniques / Heslop & Co. works, Brook Road, Rayleigh.

Picture from Google Street View. Apologies for the van.


Labels most commonly survive in Vox solid state amplifier cabinets - the Conqueror to Supreme, Dynamic to Super Foundation Bass range. Whether Heslop also produced the accompanying speaker cabinets is not known. It may be that some at least were farmed out to Gla-Rev in Hainault.

At present no label has come to light or been reported in an AC30 cabinet. It seems very unlikely that Heslop made any AC30 cases before 1966 possibly even before 1967.

Defiant serial no. 1198. Heslop sticker dated 15th May 1967.

Dynamic Bass serial number 1135. Heslop sticker dated 12th May 1967.