Bringing back some musical memories

THE name of Farmer meant one thing in Luton for 100 years – music of all kinds. From 1880 to 1980, it was the place to buy radios, gramophones and records. Or you could do it yourself with pianos, fiddles and flutes straight off the shelf.

Market gardener Albert Farmer founded the firm in a little place in Bute Street with his business partner Fred Gostelow, organist at St Mary’s Parish Church, Luton, for many years.

Albert’s cousin Sydney became a partner and the business moved to 2 Wellington Street. Around the corner, a larger unit, 83 George Street, was added to the Wellington Street shop with the ability to walk through from one to the other.

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The family then leased the corner buildings and one was occupied by tobacconists Lewis of Westminster when the main picture, left, was taken in January 1950. Nearby are Harry King’s fancy goods shop and the Luton Electricity Company showrooms.

Looting of stock and damage to S. Farmer & Co took place in the early hours of Sunday, July 20, 1919 during the riots following the peace celebrations when Luton Town Hall was burnt down.

Farmer’s were especially proud to hold the local agency for His Masters Voice, the horn gramophone complete with Nipper the dog often being displayed in the window.

In the 1960s, the shop was named Farmers Music Centre and moved to larger premises, Connaught House, Upper George Street.

For the full story of S. Farmer & Co, see Bob Norman’s book Were You Being Served? remembering 50 Luton shops of yesteryear.

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