Ponchos + pendolinos revisted

I was contacted by Tony recently who ran the Bold Street Virgin shop in the early 70’s. I had thought that this was the first site (which I must admit did seem unlikely to me!) but Tony put me straight. Below is Tony’s account of the year he ran virgin Bold Street which makes a great addition to our growing archive of all things Bold Street.

“I saw your article on the website about the Virgin Record Store in Bold St and felt I should reply. I opened the shop in about 1971 and was the first manager for about a year. This was the 3rd Virgin shop as the first was opened in Oxford St in London although we had run as a mail order business for cut price records some time before this. Brighton was next and Liverpool shortly after.

I arrived on my first day from London to find a carpenter and we proceeded to build the fittings for the shop including the counters and shelving, all do-it-yourself in those days as money was very short and we were fighting the big record companies to break the monopoly on record sales and provide customers with discounts. The shop had been a women’s clothes/bridal shop before we took it over and was very large with lots of room upstairs. I think it was number 90 Bold St but can’t be sure. I lived in the shop for some time before eventually finding a flat locally. We kept a rabbit at the time and sometimes she lived in the shop but had to be moved when she started chewing the alarm wires and setting it off in the middle of the night.

Most record shops of the time made you stand in a small booth to listen to records and limited the time you could spend there. Virgin’s philosophy was to give people a comfortable environment and no limit on how many records you could listen to hence the cushions. Richard had decided to sell waterbeds and at one point we  had one as well as the cushions but this did not survive visits from the Scottie Rd School kids who delighted in sticking pins and knives into it until we had a very soggy carpet.

There wasn’t a doorman in my day but if anyone was seen taking drugs they  would be asked to leave as it risked the closure of the shop by the police. We were raided by the police once who arrived with dogs, plainclothes and lots of uniformed officers. They closed the shop and searched everyone there but nothing was found except a mess on the carpet by a police dog.

Sadly I do not have any photographs of the shop at this time.”

If anyone does have any photo’s of the Virgin Shop Bold Street we would love to see them. Thanks so much to Tony for this.

2 Responses to “Ponchos + pendolinos revisted”

  1. 1 Dave Murphy Jan 19th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Just happened across the post about Virgin Records on Bold Street.
    I remember it very well as my best pal at the time Dave Scott worked there in 1972 and I used to bunk off work and hang out there.
    The manager at the time was an Irish guy called Mike McCardle who had a company flat by Princes park but seldom stayed there as he had a mattress upstairs above the shop.
    We used to meet up in the morning over the other side of bold street at the Nine ’til Midnight cafe drink lots of coffee and smoke endless cigarettes.
    The decor was very “hippychic” and there was a local artist who did posters for the shop.
    The headphones never lasted very long as they were being constantly removed by less honest customers.
    I remember there was an antiques shop facing Virgin and there was always a certain amount of friction between the two mainly due to the generation gap.
    I worked there for a couple of days to cover for my friemd when Richard Branson got married.
    Also had a pint with Branson on Wood street when he told me they were considering going into selling clothes as he admired the satin inserts in my denim jeans!
    Sadly my pal died in August of that year in a motorcycle accident riding home through Cronton.
    Best Wishes Dave Murphy

  2. 2 kathy gore Feb 21st, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I remember the Virgin shop very well. I was about 16/17 at the time. I remember the Irish guy who was manager and the water bed which very soon seemed to be covered in puncture repairs. I remember it was a great place to meet lads! I don’t think I ever bought a record there, but I did spend a fair amount of time there!
    Later on I worked in the Nine til Midnight (the name caused a fair amount of confusion….we never stayed open that late)and made some great friends there. It had a big front window and when I wasn’t busy I would stand and watch the world going by on Bold Street. I worked there for about 5 years. Very happy days.

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