Garrard

Garrard Engineering and Manufacturing Co 

Of 17 Grafton Street, London, W1. Works: Swindon, Wiltshire. (1922)

Of Newcastle Street, Swindon, Wiltshire. Telephone: Swindon 190. Cables: "Garrard, Swindon". (1929)

1721 Garrard and Company appointed Crown Jewellers of London. One of their duties being the care and maintenance of the British Crown Jewels and the Royal Crown. They had an international reputation for craftsmanship in the design and manufacture of jewellery, gold and silverware.


1914 Garrard and Co were asked to manufacture precision range finders for the British Artillery because they had both the craftsmen and special machinery needed.


1915 They formed the Garrard Engineering and Manufacturing Company Ltd with Major S. H. Garrard as Chairman, to run a factory set up in the premises the White Heather Laundry in Willesden, London, to create precision rangefinders, as they had the specialist equipment necessary.


1918 At the end of the war, the workers returned to their previous jobs, and Garrard decided to continue to operate the company and look for consumer products to manufacture. They hired a young engineer, who became General Manager, and started the production of small lathes and boring tools. He had also seen a need for quality spring wound motors for the fast developing gramophone manufacturing industry.


1919 The White Heather Laundry had requested its premises back, and so the company looked for a new location. They moved to Swindon where there were plenty of skilled engineering apprentices from the Great Western Railway Company, the largest employer in the town.


1920 The development of the spring wound motor continued and as a result of its quality, silent running and price, it was used by the major gramophone companies. The company had a policy that one model of every range should be the best obtainable.


1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Highest-class Gramophone Single and Double Spring Motors, Pressed Steel Turntables, Brakes, Winding Cranks, etc. (Stand No. B.25).


1920-1928 Other products produced at this time included motors for construction kits (Primus), a cine-camera/projector ( Campro), and a device for playing records at a constant linear speed which almost doubled the playing time (The World Record Controller).


1926 Garrard became a public company to finance the expansion needed to meet the demand for spring motors.


1928 Development started on electrical motors for gramophones, which resulted in a belt drive motor. Because there were few electrical supply standards at that time, it could be used with AC and DC, 25 to 100 Hz, and 50 to 250 Volts.


1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Spring Motors for Gramophones and other purposes. Precision Tools and parts. (Stand No. MM.12)


1930 The motor development programme led to the first Garrard gramophone. Previously it had only produced motors for its customers. They decided to make a super quality alternating current gramophone motor as a prestige model. It was taken up by the BBC and other broadcasters, cinemas, and it became very popular with HiFi enthusiasts. It was originally just for 78rpm records, but was later modified to play the 331/3rpm, 16 inch records used in cinemas. It was the first of what were later to be called transcription turntables.


1931 A subsidiary company, Garrard Clock Ltd, was set up to manufacture and sell clocks using spring motors produced by the parent company.


1932 The first Garrard record changer was developed. The development of radio tuners and amplifiers meant that electronic pickups could replace the old acoustic horn systems. This led to a big increase in the sales of radiograms, and record players. Garrard produced some arms and pickups for its turntables.


1938 The RC100 record changer, which could play both sides of each record, and also mixtures of 10 and 12 inch records, was produced for sale in the USA.


1939-1945 Production ceased. Large numbers of clock-based mechanisms were made for mines, and other military equipment.


1945 Following the death of Major S. H. Garrard, all the links with Garrard and Company, the Crown Jewellers, were severed and The Garrard Engineering and Manufacturing Company Ltd became a separate entity.


1946 Competition was fierce and a new record changer had to be rapidly developed. It, and similar models, were produced around the clock as demand escalated. It was the last model to play only 78rpm records.


1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Automatic Record Changers, Radio Gram Units, Gramophone Motors, Spring Gramophone Motors, Pick-up Magnetic, Crystal and High Fidelity. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. C.1522).


1948 The Model RC70 record changer was introduced to play the new 10 and 12 inch, 331/3rpm and 7 inch 45rpm vinyl records, as well as the older 78rpm records. It was the forerunner of the RC80 in 1950, which sold for many years. Large numbers were sold in the USA. New lightweight pickups and arms were developed for these records, and the RC80 was the first with a magnetic cartridge.


1954 A Garrard turntable was launched for the serious HiFi market. It has become one of the icons of design and performance. Clockmaking was stopped due to cut-price competition.


1957 Garrard released one of the first stereo pickups when stereophonic records were introduced.


1958 A serious factory fire occurred, but production was restored with the help of a neighbouring company, Plessey, which loaned factory space. A further small factory in Blunsdon was acquired to produce component parts.


1959 The new Autoslim series was launched with help from Plessey. The SP25 was probably the most popular model Garrard ever produced.


1960 Garrard became part of the Plessey group of companies with the name Garrard Engineering Ltd. Another factory was acquired in Swindon. There was also a factory in Wigan which exported to the USA via Liverpool.


1961 Garrard developed a novel Magazine Tape Deck, but it failed as it was more cumbersome than the Philips Compact Cassette launched in 1963.


1964 The Model Lab 80 was launched as the first record changer which had the performance of a transcription turntable. It had many unique adjustment features including a wooden arm.


1965 A disco version, the Disco 80, was also produced.


1971 The Zero 100 automatic transcription table was introduced with its revolutionary tangential tracking arm. Garrard received a series of awards for its development - The Queens Award, The Italian Mercurio d'Oro Award, and the USA's Emile Berliner Award.


1975-1976 Garrard's first direct drive player began production. These stayed in production with design changes until 1979.


1979 Garrard was sold to Gradiente Electronica of Brazil.


1992 The company closed.