Giant Music Centre

By Paul Blackman

In 1963 a new factory opened on Denton Island. It was originally called Ferguson Radio Corporation, then British Radio Corporation, then Thorn Consumer Electronics and finally J2T Video. It closed in 1988. It was always the same Company but the name changed to reflect the products being made.

I worked there for 25 years. The picture below was taken around the mid 70's and is obviously a Music Centre which is an exact copy of the largest selling product of it's day although made completely out of wood ! It was made so we could enter the Newhaven Carnival. The man responsible for building it was Keith Nicks who is seated fifth from the left. He was a very skillful cabinet maker and jig maker who worked for the Company for most of his life. Many 'locals' will know Keith who transferred from Newhaven Cabinets in the Drove.

Front row left to right: Joe Blackman,Jean Tapp,Tom Martin,?,Keith Nicks,?,Jim Elliott,Colin Clarke (holding the plug),Jimmy James,?,Dave Deakin,Paul Blackman.

Standing left to right: ?,Dave Corver,Ken Self,?,?,?,?,?,Mike Foster,Ian Everdell,?,Albert Martin.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'RADIO FACTORY ON DENTON ISLAND' page
This page was added by Paul Blackman on 10/04/2009.
Comments about this page

And they were good value-for-money music centres in their day too. I owned one of the same model for about 6 months. It must have been good because a burglar took it away one night. I woke up in the morning and it was gone.

By William Still
On 11/04/2009

My sister also worked there during the 60s. Her name was Colleen Roche and she bought one of the Ferguson Radios which I believe travelled with her belongings when she emigrated to Australia in 1968.

By Marion Goodwin
On 11/04/2009

Has anyone earlier photos of the factory? I am looking for a photo of my father who was from Barbados in about 1961.

By Andrew Wiltshire
On 28/06/2009

Noting your request Andrew, I was at the factory from it's opening in 1963 so do you mean you would like to see photo's from that time onward. I do remember a lady who worked there at the same time as me, her name was Phyllis Wiltshire, I think she lived in Newhaven, maybe up the Mount, she was a Supervisor on one of the Production Lines. Any relation ?

By Paul Blackman
On 07/07/2009

I well remember leaving the factory early each morning around 4am to do the London run in one of the two Newby's lorries that were contracted to Ferguson's or Thorn's. Often had trouble trying to pass parked cars beside the Bridge Hotel. I remember one morning I gave up and tried the river wall route along past the back of the Co-op and the RNVR Base and coming out by the swing bridge. Only tried it the once as there wasn't much room along there and being on ones own, in the dark, it was a slow drive I can tell you. Thought for sure I was going to end up in the river. I used to do the run to Abridge in Essex and then sometimes onto Southend for Cabinets, or the other way to Enfield for components. Great bunch of guy's worked at the factory dispatch and receiving dock. Can't remember the names but can still see the faces. Happy Day's.

By Jim Still
On 31/07/2009

Hello Paul. Good to see pictures of You and Joe on Denton Island are there any pictures of Walser and Turner Plumbers on the Riverside ? I can just remember when Dad ( Oscar ) had a handcart and then progressed to a three wheeled van for his plumbing works with Ben Turner ( my Uncle ).

By Steve Walser
On 30/01/2010

Hi Steve, great that we've got back in touch after all these years. Have left message for you on 'Message Board' page.

By Paul Blackman
On 01/02/2010

I wonder if anyone on the technical side can help with my ongoing research into the British tape recorder industry, particularly Thorn Industries (see Would you please contact me on Thanks.

By Barry M Jones
On 18/04/2010

Hi Paul, I worked here as well in the 70's. Does anyone remember Mark and Jenny Giles or Ginger Sue? Please let me know.

By chris bishop
On 03/12/2010

Hi Chris. Yes I remember all 3 of those you mentioned. I am still in touch with Mark.

By Paul Blackman
On 21/01/2011

I used to be an apprentice at Thorn in the 70s. I remember that big music center, somewhere there is a photo with me next to it. I spent a lot of time troubleshooting those things, our first time yield couldn't have been very good Ha ha! I also worked for Bill Day during my last 2 years. Cheers Bill Redhead

By Bill Redhead
On 20/04/2012

I was at J2T for about six years from 1982. I would guess that most of Newhaven and surrounding area put in time at Thorn/J2T, Concord or Parker.

By Paul Tucknott
On 22/04/2012

I worked at the factory from 1970 until about 1978. On the production line as an apprentice and then in the Test Gear Lab with Dave HUNT, Chris TIDY, George WHITE etc.

By Richard Holloway
On 24/07/2012

I expect you would all remember my dad Reg Laycock. He has a lot of health problems now but still sharp as a knife; when he annoys mum she always says "OK OK you're not in the factory now". I know he has great memories of the place.

By Christina Mitchell
On 13/08/2012

I worked there for nine months as part of my degree industrial placement - with Paul, Chris, Alan Godsmark (DoB), all led by Neville Chapman. I remember staying at Mrs. Friend's guesthouse in Seaford (25p per night including breakfast and evening meal). Jim Elliot used to give me a lift to Brighton Station on Friday nights to travel back home to London.The unidentified girl in the light blue top on the right is Jennie Froud from personnel ("educated Jen" to some). She is now Jennie Terry - we got married in 1979 and are both retired and living in Somerset. Jennie recognises the woman fourth from the left as the person who ran a very good canteen - but can't remember her name. We were told about this website by a student predecessor, Andy Taylor.

By George Terry
On 14/12/2012

Hi George, I just got Jenny's card and came straight to the website to check it out. I can't believe we all look so young! Can you tell Jenny that the woman at the back who ran the canteen is Mrs Cunningham (can't remember her christian name) How brilliant. Paul I hope you are well. Jean Cutmore (Tapp)

By Jean Cutmore
On 20/12/2012

Hi Guys. I worked at the Newhaven Cabinet Company on the Drove,as a apprentice from 1961 to 1963 in the mill dept. Just wondered if anyone has a photo or two of the factory from back then, and also if there are any former workers still about from that time. It was my first job after leaving school, and was a very friendly place to work at. I know most of the cabinets that were made there went to Denton Island. Thanks .

By Ray Wheeler
On 20/01/2013

I was an apprentice from 1972-76 and worked in the test gear lab with Chris Tidy, George White, Dave Brooks and others, all under the caring mentorship of the boss, Dave Hunt. I wonder where they all are now?

By Tony Gray
On 04/05/2013

Message for Jean Cutmore. Yes Jean I am well and retired now. One thing I need to ask. Is your brother Alan still OK. I was best man at his wedding to Pat but have lost contact with him and haven't seen him for some 40 years or so. Hope you are well.

By Paul Blackman
On 09/05/2013

My dad John Wellfare worked throughout each of the different companies, I still have his reel tape to tape player and record player (both Ferguson) and both still fully working. I went there many a time when I was growing up and learnt my electronics there too.

By Richard Wellfare
On 09/05/2013

Hi Christina I remember your dad Reg, my dad John Wellfare and him worked for years together.... I worked with Reg afterwards for a couple of years... so glad to hear his still doing ok and such a wonderful man.

By Richard Wellfare
On 10/05/2013

Just a small piece of information ........Keith Knicks, who is in the above photo was responsible for making the 'Giant Music Centre' pictured, sadly passed away last December. Although originally from Brighton Keith worked in Newaven all his working life starting at 'Champions Cabinets' in the Drove and then moved to Fergusons on Denton Island where I worked with him for 25 years. He then went to 'Bevan Funnell' when the factory closed on the Island and then retired. A real craftsman, a gentleman and a good friend.

By Paul Blackman
On 10/05/2013

Hi Paul. I am glad you are well. I am good thank you, unfortunately not retired however. Joan is really good too (82 now) I still can't walk past your parents place on Brighton Road without thinking about them. Happy days. Yes I saw Alan and Pat last week they both are really well and still living in the same house up the Mount.

By Jean Cutmore
On 10/05/2013

Hi Again Jean, Thanks for your response and please give my best wishes to Joan. Thanks also for the memory of passing Mum and Dad's house in Brighton Road. Pleased to hear Alan and Pat are well although unfortunately I know they live 'up the mount'.  I don't know exactly where they live but I will try to find out because I would like to see them again.

By Paul Blackman
On 13/05/2013

Just to say that I remember Tony Gray above and worked with him in the Test Gear Lab. I have been retired for nearly ten years now and am living in France.

By Richard Holloway
On 16/05/2013

Interesting to hear Richard! I tracked down Dave Brookes recently - he's working in California for Dolby Labs. So from small beginnings on Denton Island some of us at least seem to have branched out around the world. I live in Poland with my Polish wife and work for a German firm. All the best to all old friends and colleagues.

By Tony Gray
On 18/05/2013

Hi Richard (Welfare), thank you for your kind words about Dad (Reg Laycock) I passed them onto him and he sent his best wishes to you and your Mum.  Sadly he passed away 31st July - sad days. I remember your Dad John very well, also seem to remember his sister Daphne was our neighbour in Lee Way for many years. I too have Dad's reel to reel - built to last!!!

By Christina Mitchell
On 12/08/2013

Hi Christina Mitchell... I'm so sorry to hear about Reg passing... mum and I send you and your mum all our love, thoughts and best wishes. If you want it would be nice to catch up (if you want to), my dads sister is Beryl..... I also have my nans Ferguson record player and yes it still works as you say built to last.

By Richard Wellfare
On 20/09/2013

I was an apprentice when I left school in 1969. I started work at the factory in the Drove, on the solder bath run controlled by a large lady called Eileen after being there for a couple of months, I was transferred to Denton Island, to work in the metal trim section, glueing all sorts of metal trims to go on the front of the record players, this section was run by Frank and a lady called Carol we used to be given milk to drink as the glue was quite nasty stuff, after working there I was given the job of fault finding, on one of the lines, our chargehand was Keith Pybos a really great bloke he was always keeping us repair boys out of trouble. I wonder what happened to him? We used to come in on a Saturday morning on overtime and would hear lots of stories from Dennis Hedges when he came in latter in the morning. I have lots of fond memories of Thorns and was always in the test gear lab talking to Chris Tidy and a guy called George who I think lived in Seaford. My time at Thorns was short only a couple of years as I left and got a job at a bakery in Woodingdean as an electrician. Living in Newhaven I remember catching the bus to Lewes many times and talking to Paul Blackman who was going out with a girl from Lewes.

By Les Call
On 17/10/2013

Hello Paul; as the man holding the plug, I too have a copy of this photograph. The guy two places to your right is Chris Hawks (or might be Hawkes). Chris, me, Nigel Deller and Dave (can't remember his second name) shared a rented house at 110a Phyllis Ave. Peacehaven while we were doing our industrial training with TCE April to September 1975. I worked in the design office with you, Neville (can't remember his surname), Paul Godsmark and Chris. Have got some old photographs of us in the office. If you e-mail me I'll send you the scans. Regards Colin

Paul, if you contact us via our email we will pass on Colin's email address to you. Carol - Editor

By Colin Clarke
On 02/12/2013

Correction - it was Chris Hawes (not Hawks). I also see from an earlier entry that the guys in the office were Neville Chapman and Alan Godsmark - brings it all back to me! I wonder if anyone remembers me driving to work in my silver Messerschmitt bubble car? I hope no-one remembers me buillding an entire cassette deck with tacho-gen motor and dolby board, having blagged all the components off the line! I used it for years.

By Colin Clarke
On 02/12/2013

Hi Les. Yes I remember you working at Thorns and catching the bus to Lewes together. Just by way of 'catch up' I eneded up marrying the girl from Lewes, we have now been married for 43 years and we still live in Lewes. I am a regular 'reader' and have contributed some items and photos to this site so pleased to have caught up with you.

By Paul Blackman
On 04/12/2013

Hi Colin, great to see you hear from you after some 35 plus years. You're right with all the names. When I first posted the photo above I couldn't remember Chris Hawes' name but now you have reminded me, I think you and he came to work in our office at the same time or only a few weeks apart. When you lived in the house in Peacehaven maybe one of the names you can't remember is Malcolm Austen. I think he originally rented to whole house and then 'took you guys in. I vividly remember you coming to work in the Messerschmitt bubble car. How did you ever survive it and also you 'borrowing' the parts from the production line to build your casstte deck ! I am contacting the editor of this site, as has been recommended, to get your email address so hopefully you will send me some of the photos you have. Kind Regards, Paul.

By Paul Blackman
On 04/12/2013

Hi Paul, I look forward to receiving an e-mail from you. Can't remember Malcolm Austen, but have remembered that Dave's surname is Llewellyn, and that his home was in Roundhay, Leeds. He was so taken with the 'Schmitt that he bought one off a mate of mine, and I delivered it to him. Do you recall that I built a test rig for Philips motors because they were suffering from bearing oil migrating to the brushes? Do you also remember that a year or so later I contacted you for some spare bits which you kindly posted? I've still got the plastic bag and comps slip. Cheers, Colin

By Colin Clarke
On 05/12/2013

Oxley & Bennett used to do much of the maintenance at this factory. However there was a problem. Once a young apprentice was sent there to carry out a minor job in a section where there were only women working. He eventually came back to the yard complaining that "That randy lot had relieved him of his clothes" Thereafter is was difficult to get any young man to go there unescorted.

By Trevor Bennett
On 03/03/2014

Yes, Trevor, I remember it well !!!!!!.

By Colin Brandon
On 04/03/2014

My wife (Maureen) worked on the twilight shift there for a number of years although when she told me of some of the antics I'm surprised anything they completed worked. She can still solder though.

By Ernie Robinson
On 07/03/2014

Hi Paul, Do you have anymore of the photographs of the giant music centre? I remember posing for a photo with some of the other lads, but I haven't seen that photo in a long long time. One of my jobs at Thorn was to troubleshoot and repair those music centres. I left Thorn in 1979 after 6 years and moved on to other Radio/Electronics companies in the UK, (ITT, Marconi, Multitone and Nokia. Since 2000 I have been living in California USA and I'm still working in the radio industry, my current employer is Skyworks Solutions Inc. We design and manufacture analog semiconductors for use in all kinds of wireless devices. I remember Dave Corver, he was the mentor for the apprentices. Mark Giles and Bob Jenner are names that come to mind.

By William Redhead
On 11/04/2014

Sorry William but the photo I posted above is the only one I have of the music centre. Good to hear you are well.


By Paul Blackman
On 14/04/2014

Does anybody remember Morris Deakin and if he ok and what he is up to.

By Richard Wellfare
On 25/07/2014

I worked with Maurice at the factory for nearly 24 many years and was best man at his wedding to Kaye. Sadly lost contact with him many years ago so like you I would be interested to know where he is now.

By Paul Blackman
On 28/07/2014

If we are talking about the same Maurice Deakin, I heard he was at one time manager of the Ship Hotel at the bottom of the high street.

By William Still
On 30/07/2014

Hi Paul................ I just realised I spelt Maurice name wrong.............. My dad used to work and spend many good times with him and Kaye and I lost touch over the years like you............ if I hear anything from anyone else I shall update you

By Richard Wellfare
On 30/07/2014

Knew your Dad, John, very well Richard, he was the Production Planner for many years and was always willing to help out if problems arose. Regarding the other comment from William above, yes I did know that Maurice and Kaye were at the Ship Hotel as they went there after living next door, for many years, to my Mum and Dad in Brighton Road, They married around 1969 if I remember correctly and moved into Brighton Road then. From there to the 'Ship'. From there...........who knows.

By Paul Blackman
On 31/07/2014

Hi Paul, do you remember me in the drawing office? with Dave Deakon, Dave Newcomb, Alan Howard. I remember doing the Furguson Logo on the big music centre, my daughter was on the float when it came to at Eastbourne! Regards David. 

By David Chadwick
On 12/10/2014

Hi Dave,

Yes of course I remember you. Blue Ford Anglia van comes to mind or is my memory failing me ? We worked to together in the Drawing Office on Denton Island when Alan Howard was Chief Draughtsman. I have never seen Dave Deakin since we all went our separate ways but you may be aware that Dave Newcombe passed away a few years ago. I see Alan Howard from time to time around Lewes where I still live. Hope you're well Dave. Good to hear from you.  

By Paul Blackman
On 14/10/2014

Hi Paul,

So what stories you got to tell about my dad, I'm sure there is a few I know quiet a few from over the years.......... I knew Maurice lived in Brighton Road went there many times as I used to goto football with his eldest son Tony............... I worked with Maurice at the Ship hotel for about 6 months before going to work with Reg, Paul and Bob in Hailsham

Does anybody know how Paul is ? and I remember a guy called Gorden  he was last I knew working with Mark Giles........

By Richard Wellfare
On 16/10/2014

Hi Richard.

Regarding your enquiry about Reg, Paul and Bob......Reg I assume is Reg Laycock who I believed moved to Essex but not sure, Paul is Paul Davis, sadly he passed away earlier this year and Bob you refer to is Bob Inman who I remember lived in Peacehaven but I have had no contact with since we all left the factory on the island in 1989. Gorden is Gordon Martin who went to work with Mark Giles for some while but again I know he is not working there now. I only saw Mark last week so I will enquire about Reg, Bob and Gorden to see where they all are now. 

By Paul Blackman
On 17/10/2014

Yes Reg Laycock did move to Essex where I believe he sadly passed away, that is such bad news to here that Paul Davis has passed away this year, as for Bob Inman I last heard he was living in Hellingly near Hailsham............ it must be about 7 years since I last saw Paul how time flies....... that's it Gorden Martin last I knew he was living in Denton..................... have you heard anymore about Maurice ?

By Richard Wellfare
On 17/10/2014

Hi Paul,

I worked in the test gear lab from about 72 to 74 (can't remember exactly) with Dave Hunt, Chris Tidy, Alan Millar and George White.  Chris sadly passed away about 20 years ago. I have lived near Gloucester since I left Thorns.  I still see George White occasionally. I remember most of the names that have been mentioned.   I loved my time there.  I nearly went back to work for Dave a few years after I left, but decided to stay in Gloucester.  We used to have great evenings out with the bunch of students working at Thorns.  Does anyone remember Sue Parkinson?  I was great friends with her and Dave, her husband.  Sadly lost touch about 25 years ago. 

By Martin Wakely
On 12/08/2015

Hi Martin, I remember you and your Mini Marcos springs to mind. Spoke to George White about 12 years ago. He was still living in Seaford. Also made contact with Tony Gray. Very sad to hear about Chris Tidy.

By Richard Holloway
On 22/08/2015

Hi Richard,

Yes the green mini Marcos was mine.  I bought it from someone at Thorn, but I can't remember who.  I think he worked in the drawing office. 

I remember your your name but can't remember where you worked, sorry.  Were you in the test lab?

By Martin Wakely
On 31/08/2015

Martin......I remember very well the Mini Marcos because the guy who built it was a student studying Mechanical Engineering and worked alongside myself in the Engineering Department. His name was Tim Leaton and he lived in Herstmonceux at the time.

By Paul Blackman
On 03/09/2015

I worked with many of these guys as an apprentice. Dave Corver and so many of these people made me who I became, a gratitude I have never paid them. I now own and run ONIX GB and started ONIX AUDIO along with Tony Brady in the 80s. I have travelled and have had a great life .. Thorn EMI is the reason I went in my chosen Direction. "Not the normal humdrum life". Its the reason I can design from nothing my product range, it is the reason I created a company and made its systems efficient. There were some great people at Thorns that shaped so many, sadly many won't ever have understood why. I thank ALL of the people there that created who I am good or bad they all left a mark. The UK left manufacturing behind. J2t was the end of Thorn EMI for us. All these people were characters and we all complained every day about so many things. Were were however united in our plight.

By Adam Worsfold
On 16/11/2016

I worked at the factory from 1968, mostly on production but also in the test lab with Chris Tidy and Dave Hunt. I was transferred to the Bexhill site and became the site engineer and safety manager until I left in 1978 to work at Bright College. I remember many of the people at the factory including George White, Mike Kerr and Joe Blackman. The large music centre was used in the Bexhill Carnival I recall with many of the young girls dressed as nursery characters. Retired now but still living in Sussex.    

By Tony Humphrey
On 20/07/2017

Hi, I did not work at this factory but I am a member of the bowling club, I was interested in finding out about the building and what it was used for. I just wanted to say how fantastic it was to read your texts and finding out about your works, its fantastic that you can all get in touch with each other and share your memories.

By Nigel Bridle
On 11/08/2019

When it closed wasn't it called DI Electronics?

By Bryan Greenfield
On 22/08/2019

I've been following this site for a while. I used to work in the electronics development lab (next to the test lab) with the chief designer, a guy called Alain, forgotten his surname. From 1973 to 1977 I was working at the British Radio Corporation (Thorn EMI Ferguson) site in Bexhill-On-Sea before working in Newhaven from 1977 to 1980 when I left to go to Coventry Poly (as it was then).
I remember Chris Tidy from the test lab. I have lost touch with all at the Bexhill and Newhaven sites. But I'm glad to see a few familiar names pop up in the chats, Tony Humphrey from Bexhill... Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to share.
I moved to France in 1987 and married my French wife. We have been here ever since. I am still working as a software engineer on embedded TCP/IP data transmission and GPS and IoT. But looking forward to retirement! Have been a keen guitarist from by Bexhill days and have had a couple of successful groups here in France.
I remember a guy from the test lab always raving about his "Cibies" headlights! We had a common taste for top-end (for the 70's) cassette recorders! Also a chap in the components department with whom we built our own remote-control equipment for radio-controlled cars!
Would love to hear a few more stories...

By Mark Reeves
On 09/06/2020

I was shown an old photo of a group of youngsters taken about the late 1950s attending a birthday party. The venue was, I believe, at an house in Outlook Avenue, Peacehaven and the host was a school friend, Pauline Martin. Now for the question. The man standing on the right end of the picture, Albert Martin. Was he the father of Pauline and did he live at Outlook Avenue?. He looks very much like another person in the old photo. I remember Pauline's mother as being a rather elegant lady. Have not seen or heard anything about this family since leaving school in 1960. 

By Colin Brandon
On 03/10/2020

Hi Colin.

I can easily sort this one out for you. Yes Albert was the father of Pauline and yes they did live in Outlook Avenue, although I also remember them living somewhere in another location also in Peacehaven, maybe Gladys Avenue or around there. I can give you a bit of 'history' as well. Albert is the one standing on the right hand end and I remember him with great affection. He was what would be called today the Production Engineering Manager where, from 1964 we were making 'reel to reel' Taper Recorders at what was then the new factory on Denton Island, having moved down from Essex Place. Albert interviewed me for my very first job upon leaving school and I got the job ! I worked alongside another Enginneer who is standing 2 away from Albert in the back row, his name is Ian Everdell and he was married to Albert's daughter Pauline. I remember very well making a mistake one day and having to build up courage to go and tell Albert. To this very day I can see him standing there and saying to me 'Don't worry Son......a man who never made a mistake never made anything........all you have to do is learn by it'. I've often used those words since. Also you said you remember Pauline's mum being a very elegant lady, I can confirm that is also true as on the few occassions that I saw her thats excatly how I would describe her. I know Albert passed away some while ago but I've no further information of whatever happened to Pauline. Hope this has been of some help.

By Paul Blackman
On 05/10/2020

Paul, when I worked in the drawing office it was alongside a chap called Henry (Howitt?) I believe he emigrated to Australia and Neville C.  I bought a Ford Consul convertible from Henry for £10 but it blew up and he gave me my money back. The Chief Engineer was Dave Charlsworth, I think he was moved on, or scapegoated, for plagiarising Philips stuff, am I making all this up?  Your knowledge of the place seems all encompassing!

By Rob Vinall
On 06/10/2020

Hi Paul, many thanks for the interesting information and it has for certain, rattled " the old grey matter" a bit. I can remember the party and Pauline's father being a decent, friendly sort of a gentleman. Something in my mind kept telling me, after looking at the photo, his name was George?. Another senior moment I suppose. Now, Paul this is the strange bit, I worked on the construction of the island factory and later on its maintenance when it was up and running and knew Albert, but never connected him and Pauline. Just for good measure, I purchased one of those reel to reel four track tape recorders you were making from the 2nds shop. It was in there because it had a scratch on the front panel. Before I actually took it home the next day, some kind person, had put a new front on it!!!. That machine is still in good working to this day.  

Many thanks again.

By Colin Brandon
On 06/10/2020

Quick piece of information for comment by Mark Reeves above. Person you're thinking of about his 'Cibie' headlights was Dave Brooks. He worked in the 'Test Gear' lab. and had a Vauxhall that he added the 'Cibies' to. 

By Paul Blackman
On 06/10/2020

I know I'm a year late in responding to question by Bryan Greenfield above but yes Bryan you're right it was called DI Electronics when the factory finally closed. Since the factory was built around 1963/64 until it's end it went through a number of different names but in 1988 when it was called J2T ('J' being the Japanese Company JVC and the 2 'T's being Thorn and Thomson) the company finally finished production of Video Recorders and became subject to a 'Management Buy Out' where it took on sub contract  electrical work. The Management called the company DI Electronics, for obvious reasons being on Denton Island. The company only lasted another year or so and the entire contents of the factory were put up for auction and having worked there for some 25 years and seeing everything being sold off was not a very pleasant experience. However I have nothing but happy memories and still keep in touch with some of my old workmates.

By Paul Blackman
On 06/10/2020

Hi Rob. Your memory of working in the drawing office is correct. Henry Howitt was a draughtsman alongside Neville Chapman and the Chief Draughtsman whose name was Jim Gardener. I went into the drawing office after working for 4 years in all the other Departments in 1968. The Chief Engineer was indeed Dave Charlesworth who was transferred from the head office of 'Thorn' Enfield and to our site in Newhaven. He disappeared in mysterious circumstances as I remember, so your thoughts regarding his exit may well be correct.  I'm thinking that your the Rob Vinall that I was in same year at school with. If so then I seem to remember you being in a band with Glen Bates, Colin Norton and Mick Noakes. Am I right ?

By Paul Blackman
On 06/10/2020

Yes Paul, the very same, we met briefly much later at Drax Plastics in Burgess Hill.

By Rob Vinall
On 07/10/2020

I am happy for the website editor to forward my email to you Paul if you want to get in contact.

Will be happy to do so for you Rob.

John Hills - Editor

By Rob Vinall
On 07/10/2020

Hi Paul,

I would also be happy for this website to pass on my e-mail address to you. I have some other information to tell you.

No sooner said then done Colin, unfortunately Pauls email address is "undeliverable". I will try and resolve the situation for you.

John -- Editor          

By Colin Brandon
On 08/10/2020

Editor: Yes I'm happy to hear from Rob and Colin. Thanks.

Thank you Paul.. unfortunately the email address you have registered pings back as "

Reason: A message that you sent to the following recipient could not be delivered due to a permanent error. ** The remote server ?? responded with: ** ??:?? This message was created automatically by mail delivery software on the server .

" could you please check this out for us?

John  --  Editor

By Paul Blackman
On 12/10/2020

Hi John. Not quite sure why my email address is givng problem. The email address I 'log on' is showing the correct address. So are you saying you want me to confirm it by going through the normal procedure, i.e 'Add a comment about this page'. 

Hi Paul,

The email address you have registered with the website returns the following message:-

      This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.     


Delivery to the following recipients failed permanently:




Reason: A message that you sent to the following recipient could not be delivered due to a permanent error. ** The remote server ?? responded with: ** YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED??:?? This message was created automatically by mail delivery software on the server .

I have replaced your registered email address with " YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED" in the above text if that makes sense.

So it does not work and I cannot contact you directly via that email address I am afraid.

You can still use it to log on your account in the normal way and post pages/comments.

Alternatively you can post a comment on the site with your contact details i.e. phone number which I will not publish but only I will be able to see and then delete the comment, if that helps.

PS. Can you check the SPAM FILTER SETTINGS associated with your registered email address please Paul


John -- Editor 

By Paul Blackman
On 14/10/2020

Paul’s comment on 6/10 about Rob being in a group really made me smile. I remember going to see my big brother on stage when I was 11 or 12, a hall in South Road I think, and thinking he was a pop star. Those were the days. Best not to mention the cost of his guitars though....

By Val Lidster (nee Vinall)
On 01/11/2020

All, I would love to catch up with someone from the old days in the test gear lab on Denton Island someday if anyone has any contacts? I'm particularly thinking about people like Dave Hunt (the boss), George "Beanz" White and so on. I gather Chris Tidy passed away unfortunately, so thus far my only relatively recent contact is Dave Brookes who's in California working at Dolby Labs. Grateful for any pointers thanks.

By Tony Gray
On 27/12/2020

Hi, I think my late uncle, Les Allen, worked at this factory, though I'm not 100% sure. Does anyone remember him, please, and could he be the man, standing 3rd from left, in this photo?

By Teresa Fowler
On 26/01/2022

Hi Teresa.

I can help you with your question about your Uncle Les Allen. I knew Les when he worked with my Dad (Joe Blackman) at the 'old' Ferguson factory in Essex Place. They we both Fault Finders on the Printed Circuit Board Assembly lines back in 1962/63. Late in 1963 the production moved to a new factory on Denton Island and Les and my Dad both worked there together for a while. I'm not sure whether Les retired or moved to other employment but he wasn't at the new factory for long so can't help you with any more details. Regarding your comment about the photo, I originally 'posted' that on this site and still have the print but I think Gentleman with the cap is the one who your asking about. That is not Les but he's Tom Martin who was one of the Security Officers who was on duty the day the photo was taken.

Hope this gives you a little insight.  

By Paul Blackman
On 28/01/2022

Hi Teresa, Yes I remember your uncle, Les Allen. I started work at the factory in 1970/71 and it was my first proper job after leaving school. I worked initially in one of the testing booth's and Les was my supervisor. I remember him as being a patient and helpful man, never knew him to have a bad word for anyone. Enjoyed my time there.

By Richard Holloway
On 29/01/2022

I came across this page some years ago. My parents bought one in October 1974, possibly to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary. Also to replace a valve radiogram which went up in smoke a few years earlier. My mum was impressed with the record deck having a cueing device. I remember it being brought home, and my parents eagerly setting it up on a drop leaf table. It was then temporarily placed on a folded Z bed. Dad later used square tubing to make a stand for it.  

I was 8 at the time, and my first experience of stereo. To have the ability to pick up radio signals, and decode and indicate stereo was magic! It was where my interest in radio and electronics began. For years, I assumed it was made in Enfield. In 1980 I bought an Ultra radio, and noticed the address for servicing was Newhaven. I had no idea Ferguson audio products were made here. Nice to think our music centre was made in Sussex.  

By Tony Fadelle
On 30/07/2022

I worked for British Radio Corporation at Chigwell and visited the Newhaven and Enfield sites regularly.  I remember Harry Kotler, but lost contact when I was transferred to Goodmans at Havant.  I would love to know what happened to Harry, but couldn't find any mention of him on here, so it might be before anyone's time, I guess?


By Roger Walker
On 28/09/2022

Hi Roger.

I remember Harry Kotler very well, although we never called him by his first name it was always Mr Kotler.

I joined BRC in February 1964 and he was MD at the time. He was a very imposing man, whenever he came onto the 'shop floor' although you may not be able to see him for some reason you knew he was around because he had a 'presence' about him.

He was always 'suited up' unless it was exceptionally warm then he might come onto the shop floor without a jacket, such was his demeanour.

I can only ever remember speaking to him on one occasion as in those says you didn't speak to the MD unless he spoke to you first. However he was a very popular MD and as I remember he did quite a bit for the local community even though he lived in Hove, I think he was on the Newhaven Chamber of Commerce or something like that so he was involved in local things.

He passed away one evening suddenly around the late 60's which was a big shock to us all as he was at work that very same day.

One memory that sticks in my mind is that one of my work colleagues had the job of washing his car (dark blue Jaguar Reg. JPG 99 yes sadly I even remember the reg.) parked at the front of the factory on Denton Island every Friday morning. His name was Alfie Hawkins and it maybe that someone else reading this thread might remember Alfie.

I worked at the factory for 25 years and starting in the Stores and finally ended up as a Draftsman in the Mechanical Engineering Section.

The Company name went through a number of changes from Ferguson Radio Corporation to British Radio Corporation to Thorn Consumer Electronics then J2T Video and finally DI Electronics when the factory finally closed in 1989 and was demolished.

Hope this gives you some insite to Mr Kotler.

By Paul Blackman
On 03/10/2022

Hi my Uncle Stan Spencer was Thorn EMI Ferguson production director and also later CEO of J2T.

Wonder if you have any stories about him or the company you could share with us, Colin.

John  --  Editor 

By Colin Spencer
On 31/12/2022

Hi Colin.

As you may have read from my above comments I worked at the factory on Denton Island from when it was first built in 1963 and I made a comment just before this one about Harry Kotler the CEO of Thorn Electrical Industries.

Your Uncle, Stan Spencer, replaced Mr Kotler when he passed away and Stan remained CEO from that time on and through the change from Thorn to J2T until he retired.

He was a 'gordie' and my lasting memory of him was that he would have all the Managers and Supervisors meeting in the canteen at 5pm every working day to discuss any problems had had occurred during the day so they could be rectified before the next working day and he would always start the meeting by lighting up his pipe and showering us all in smoke.

His 'pet hate' was seeing anyone with their hands in their pockets, he would come up behind you and tap you on the arm and you knew exactly what he was saying without even having to say anything.

I think he lived in Eastbourne and I seem to remember that he may have been a 'hospital visitor', someone who would just go into hospital at visiting times and talk to anyone who didn't appear to have a visitor, but maybe someone else can remember that more than me.

By Paul Blackman
On 20/01/2023

@Paul Blackman - I’m Bob Story’s son.  He’d be keen to get in touch if you’re able !

By Tom Story
On 09/08/2023

Just been reading through all the comments on here, so I think I'll add some of mine....

I worked at the Denton Island Factory from 1970 to 1979. The Manager was still Harry Kotler until about 1972 I think. Mr. Kotler signed my apprenticeship indenture in 1971, but Stan Spencer signed it when my apprenticeship ended.

I first started in one of the (final) test booths in the tape recorder department. These were reel-to-reel monophonic machines I can still remember the model nos. 3245 & 3246 for the Ferguson branded ones. Reg Laycock was the Foreman in the that department, Reg Laycock's Dad was still working there at that time on the packing line. Joan Saunders was supervisor for the line my test booth was on, and John Hackett was supervisor for the repairers and testers.

When production came to an end, I worked on the newly introduced cassette recorders, until these were succeeded by the ubiquitous "Music Centre" which became the 'in-thing' in the 1970's. 

I went next door into the record player department, and I was in at the forefront of the "Music centres" repairing and sometimes testing them. The first model to come out was the '3460'. This was quickly succeeded by an improved version, the '3463' almost identical in appearance. In this department the Foreman was Paul Davis, our supervisor was firstly Colin Doughty, and then Colin Bell.

Various models came out over the years, ranging from the budget ones to the expensive ones with Dolby 'B' Tape machines.

I did work for a time in the "Service to Stock" department with a chap called 'Tom' (can't remember his surname). This department closed and went to Bexhill when Tom retired. So I was back out on the factory floor again, where I remained until I left in 1979. It was still called "Thorn Consumer Electronics" at that time.

After a very short stint at another Electronics Factory in Newhaven, because the production came to an end. I had a complete change of job direction, by going on the Buses as a Driver and later Driver-Conductor. I stayed with Brighton & Hove Bus & Coach Co (and it's predecessor, Southdown, Brighton Hove & District), for 26 years until I moved to Blackpool (Lancs.) in 2006, and joined Blackpool Transport and became a Bus & Tram Driver until I took early retirement in 2014. I've been retired now for 10 years, and it's certainly, the best 10 years of my life !! (lol)

I still live in Blackpool and love it here, so I intend to stay !! 

I do have mostly happy memories at the Denton Island Factory. I'm amazed it was demolished though, as it was quite a modern building and very large. I wonder what is on the site now ? 


By John Shorten
On 18/06/2024

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