Jennings Musical Industries - The Queen's Award

21st April, 1967

Below, Tom Jennings, along with Eric Summer (of Royston Industries), formally receiving the Queen's Award to Industry on 10th July, 1967 - picture from a local Dartford newspaper. The award - for services to Export - had been announced on the 21st April (the Queen's birthday), having been signed off by the Prime Minster, Harold Wilson, earlier that month.

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Above, the cover and inner page of the "Beacon", house journal of Royston Industries, the company that had a controlling interest in Vox / Jennings Musical Industries (JMI). For the issue in its entirety, .

The blurb says " which the name of Royston Industries appears, honoured for the Export Achievements of Jennings Musical Industries, which last year exported over £750,000 worth of electronic musical equipment to over 70 countries in all parts of the world."

Extract from the "London Gazette" for Friday 21st April, 1967 - the page listing Royston and Jennings.

The immediate background to Jennings's export drive in 1966 was widely reported in music newspapers and magazines, much as the sales to Thomas Organ in America had been in 1965 - by "The Economist", "Billboard Magazine" and many others.

Billboard magazine, May 1966, Vox export drive in Russia

Billboard magazine, May 1966.

"The Stage" newspaper, 30th June 1966.

"The Stage" newspaper, 18th August 1966.

The Stage newspaper, Vox demonstration in Russia

"Billboard Magazine", 28th January 1967 - short report pre-dating the Queen's Award by a few months.

The selection process

Some material on the selecting of JMI for the Queen's Award (more to follow). The company was the second musical instrument manufacturer to win the award, the first being Premier drums (which Tom had distributed in the early 1950s). Below, a pic. from the local Dartford press of an official visit to the Dartford Road Works on 10th January, 1967.

In 1967, as in 1966, Queen's Awards were made in two categories: "Services to Export" and "Technological Achievement". Jennings's was for the former. The process of assessing candidates - overseen by various committees of the Board of Trade - was a fairly protracted one. Companies were asked to provide various details - number of employees, turnover, percentage of exports - which were checked, cross-referenced, and discussed; four provisional lists for each category were then drawn up in descending order of merit, the last being of "exclusions". In 1967 Selmer was excluded early on for being French owned. But that did not stop Timex's name proceeding a good way forward before someone realised that the company was in fact American.

Jennings, vetted initially in January (photo above), figures in List 1 from the outset. In the material that survives, little is said in detail about the selection process on a case by case basis. Some companies evidently proposed themselves, others were put forward by recommenders. It may be that Sydney Irving, the MP for Dartford, played a part in proposing Jennings.

Checks into the statements made by various companies sometimes revealed interesting infelicities - that the engines supplied by Rolls Royce for trams in Jamaica had been extremely unreliable (as they had also proved in Singapore); and that Jaguar motor cars had a terrible reputation in France, principally due to the scarcity and cost of replacement parts. Embassies and Consulates around the world were consulted along with other Whitehall departments.

In the details from the two documents below, Jennings received a whole-hearted thumbs up: - "Appraisal by Government Departments. Aggresive exporters drawing favourable comment from all departments consulted. No competitors match drive and ingenuity over whole field."

Early to mid-February, 1967. The figures given at the head of the page are the same as those in the later page illustrated below. Note the sentence at the end of the first paragraph: "This has not been substantiated by Government departments". Tom was always ready with a good line, exaggeration simply being part of the charm.

Later February 1967, Tom's claim left in place.

In late March / early April, the final lists were submitted to the Prime Minister for signing off, and the recipients of the award published on the Queen's birthday - 21st April.

The photo-shoot at Royston Industries' head office

Most of "The Beacon" for July 1967 is devoted to Jennings, and three photos from the gathering at 3 Hill Street in Mayfair were published - a detail of Dick Denney; of Colin Barratt (chief overseas sales representative); and Dave Clark of the "Dave Clark Five" taking tea:

Note the flock wallpaper in the background. Other photos from the day have also turned up, a wide shot of Dick Denney playing his Vox "New Escort Special" guitar into a wah-wah pedal and Vox Supreme, and of Denney and Dave Clark in front of the amp:

A note really, the pic. below was published in "Beat Instrumental", January 1969 - organs and Gyrotones in the same room at the head office: