363 Oxford Street: hmv comes home
On July 20th 1921, presided over by composer Sir Edward Elgar, the very first hmv store was opened by The Gramophone Company, later to become EMI, at 363 Oxford Street, London.
In the 92 years that have passed since then, a lot has happened. Back then, hmv not only sold records but also the gramophones to play them on, and buying an ‘album’ literally meant carting home a boxed set of 78-rpm discs. We even had our own recording studio on the second floor!
History in the making…
The original store was destroyed by fire on Boxing Day in 1937 and had to be completely rebuilt by architect Joseph Emberton, meaning a temporary move to Bond Street until the store reopened in 1939. During WWII, 363’s basement was even designated as an official air-raid shelter, with Londoners huddling beneath the racks of vinyl to escape the bombs.
In another interesting turn in 363’s history, the store was visited in February 1962 by a young entrepreneur from Liverpool named Brian Epstein, who wanted to use the store’s recording facilities to cut a demo with a band he was managing – a little-known act named The Beatles. As the story goes, the tracks were heard by publishing company Ardmore & Beechwood, based in the same building, who put the young Epstein in touch with Parlophone’s George Martin and…well, you know the rest.
Old dog, new tricks…
363 Oxford Street was the home of many innovations – it was the first store to feature our famous ‘listening posts’, as well as self-service record counters and dedicated customer service from product specialists. 1986 saw us move our flagship store further up Oxford Street to No. 150, where it’s been ever since…until now that is. On Friday 18th October, hmv officially moved back home to 363 where, fittingly, Sir Paul McCartney met fans and signed autographs to mark the occasion.
After a difficult start to the year, it’s been amazing to re-open in the location that helped make hmv one of the best-known and best-loved names on the high street. The landscape has changed a lot over the last century, both in the entertainment industry and on the high street, but it feels good to…as some band or other once said…get back to where we once belonged.