From c. 1978 or so onwards, a trip to some of the records shops of Stoke-on-Trent became a weekly activity for the boys from Strand Records. This was usually a Saturday morning jaunt although after school was an option too if you got a wriggle on before shop closing time! We flew solo at first but from 1984 we hunted in packs!
The three towns visted most often by us were Hanley, Stoke and Longton. The main shopping centre for Stoke-on-Trent is Hanley and there were some key record shops located here;
- Mike Lloyd Music was originally based on Percy Street and this was arguably the epicentre of punk and rock in Stoke. Mike Lloyd was also a concert promoter and so you would buy your gig tickets here both for Stoke-on-Trent gigs (mainly at Hanley’s Victoria Hall) but also for concerts taking place outside of the city (with coach travel if needed). In the mid 1980s, a considerably larger Mike Lloyd Megastore opened on Brunswick Street.
- Lotus Records was in the Piccadilly Arcade and it seemed desperately cool with very trendy staff. This space is still a record shop – Music Mania
- Terry Bloods was situated on the corner of Piccadilly and Cheapside and was based on two floors just like Lotus.
- In addition to the above big hitters, WH Smiths had a decent independent records section for the time and Woolworths always had good sales. There was also Our Price in the Potteries Centre and HMV moved into the centre during the early 1990s too (it’s still there today). You could also get some records from Fantasy World (a kind of forerunner of the Forbidden Planet sci-fi/comic shop). We bought Dead kennedys’ Too drunk to f*** on 7″ from there. There was also Clay Records on Hope Street whch was a shop and a record label (Discharge were one of their artists).
Stoke town also had a Woolworths and the marvellous Legendary Lonnie’s located on Church Street (although it moved along London Road later on). Lonnie Cooke is a music legend and he once stood for the Raving Monster Loony Party in Stoke!
In Longton there was Bevan’s, which had the strongest record shop smell ever. This family business was located on the Strand (where Strand Records is situated) and they were great for stocking the entire hit parade as well as ordering records and providing a range of styluses.
In Longton’s Bennett Precinct, you found Disco 1 which later became Replay Records which later became Musique (or maybe the other way around?). You also had Tony Denson’s on Market Street which is where Strand Records’ Dave bought The Specials’ Gangsters. Of course, there was also the ubiquitous Woolworths further along Market Street.
Here is a photo of Strand Records’ Dave outside Mike Lloyd’s Megastore, Hanley in 1997.
We realise that memories fade and so there were probably other record shops that we have forgotten about. Any comments are most welcome. For example, there was a downstairs record shop in Longton on the Strand but we can’t remember the name (Editor’s note: we now know it was called Madcap Records). There were various record stalls that popped up in indoor markets too but it was all so long ago.
Here’s a couple more bag designs for Mike Lloyd Music. These were the smaller bags for 7″, CDs and tapes.
These really were great days for the Strand Records boys. From ’84, we’d generally meet up in Hanley and then wander from bargain bin to bargain bin. Initially of course, our individual crate digging had been for classic albums (e.g. Legendary Lonnie provided Strands’ Dave with almost all of the Beatles albums) but over time we moved on to the slightly more obscure Factory Records releases, Rough Trade, Creation, 4AD, Kitchenware, C86 material, Sarah Records, hip hop imports, Sub Pop, Heavenly, etc. We bought oh so many LPs, 12″s, picture discs, 7″s, double-packs, cassettes, cassingles, blank TDK tapes, patches, badges and posters.
The record shop was a big part of our education, leisure time and cultural development. As music supervisor Gary Calamar states in Record store days (2010), “The record store was a place of escape. It was a library and a clubhouse”.
Boy did we seek sanctuary and learn and have fun.