OVER 100 YEARS OF HISTORY
IN THE MAKING
THE TOP DOG
The Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba — the Adele of the 1900s – lays the foundation stone of the Gramophone Company factory in Hayes. This trailblazing company not only builds gramophones – Captain Scott takes a pair to the Antarctic with him – but also releases 78 rpm records on its record label, His Master's Voice. HMV's logo, a Jack Russell called Nipper listening to a gramophone, is one of the 20th century's most enduring images.
With the Gramophone Company's runaway success, architecture firm Wallis, Gilbert & Partners are invited to design a new state-of-the art factory. The result is three monumental buildings with art deco touches and innovative open-plan reinforced concrete floors which are flooded with natural light. The architects go on to gain critical acclaim for their work on Victoria Coach Station in central London and the Hoover Building in Perivale.
A STAR IS BORN
EMI is born when the Gramophone Company merges with its competitor Colombia. Hayes is no longer just a pressing plant, it is a global hotspot of technological innovation. The company's in-house innovation department, the Central Research Laboratory (CRL), makes breakthroughs in high-definition TV and stereo sound. The world's first stereo recording is of trains pulling in and out of Hayes station. During the Second World War, the CRL also pioneers airborne radar, saving thousands of lives.
THE BRITISH INVASION
An unknown band from Liverpool called The Beatles sign to the label in 1963, quickly propelling EMI to front and centre of the music industry. Every single Beatles album, from Revolver to Sgt Pepper, is mastered and manufactured in Hayes. Into the 1970s, EMI spearheads the progressive rock revolution. Emblematic records from Queen, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple keeping the factory floors busier than ever. At its peak, the EMI plant employs 22,000 people.
DON'T STOP THE MUSIC
In the late 1970s, vinyl sales begin to dwindle when the cassette player becomes the new must-have. EMI merges with Thorn and makes the difficult decision to move its vinyl operations away from Hayes. Many of the factory buildings are left empty, although its central laboratory stays open until 1996. The impact this has on Hayes, whose fortunes have been tied to the factory, is profound.
THE VINYL RENAISSANCE
The factory is acquired by U+I and renamed The Old Vinyl Factory in honour of its enviable heritage, beginning a new chapter for Hayes. Architects Studio Egret West reimagine the factory buildings for the digital age while retaining the site's incredible heritage. CRL relaunches as an incubator for startups. Inspired by EMI's musical and technological pedigree, the first commercial tenants in the Shipping Building include Sonos, the wireless speaker pioneers, air transport technology leaders SITA and internet giant GoDaddy.
REIMAGINED & REMASTERED
The 'factory city' that once revolutionised the music industry is once again revolutionising West London. With 642 homes on site, The Old Vinyl Factory is bringing in a new generation of people to live, work and play in Hayes.