October 21st 1975

“Trip to London – Audio Fair = great!, Design centre = yawn!, London Motor Show = great bar crawl!”

I wish I had commented on who I went with and how we all got to London. The latter I suspect would have been via the train, but surely I didn’t venture to all these things by myself?….

I think this was my one and only London Audio Fair. I remember feeling daunted by all the stereo equipment on show and how everyone looking at and testing the new shiny boxes were all so very much older – and thus, to my mind, wiser – than me.

The only online reference I could find to the show was a review of it published in the December 1975 edition of Gramophone Magazine, which I have précised below, acknowledging their copyright in the content…

DISAPPOINTMENT could be seen on the faces of most people at this year’s London Audio Fair: it could even be read between the lines on the faces of those salesmen accustomed to dissemble, ie hide their true feelings behind a mask of bonhomie and apparent optimism. The number of exhibitors was disappointing. The quality of exhibitors was just as varied as usual, but there were many more British absentees than foreigners in proportion and this produced a rather uncomfortable air of being transported to other shores. The poor showing by British manufacturers seemed particularly ironic in view of the recently launched “Buy British” campaigns. Attendance was disappointing too, despite the programme of pop concerts and disc-jockey radio items. This must in part be because advance publicity was rather sparse this year, and the 75p admission charge may have put some people off. 
(© Gramophone Magazine Dec 1975)

Looks like a I wasted a whole 75p?!

Oh how I wish I could relive certain portions of my life… like today when I visited the London Design Centre

The London Design Centre was an offshoot of the Council of Industrial Design, itself dreamt up by the British government’s Board of Trade at the tail end of the 2nd World War. The Council’s objective was to promote the improvement of design in the production of UK-manufactured goods.

The council was renamed The Design Council and in 1956 the Design Centre was opened to the public in London’s Haymarket. It combined floating exhibitions with examples of stand out British design and proved popular with both regular consumers and manufacturers (looking for ideas for their products) alike.

This day in 1975 I described my time there as “yawn” suggesting it was a boring side event to the day’s proceedings. I am hugely embarrassed by this as I am sure that – now – I would be old enough to fully appreciate it and describe it with abject glee instead. Such is a teenager’s mind!

It may be that I was ‘saving all my concentration’ for the Motor Show, specifically the described ‘great bar crawl

The first British Motor Show took place way back in 1903 and it was held every year in London until 1976 when it moved to the vast National Exhibition Centre (N.E.C.)  in Birmingham where it became a biannual event. The show got cancelled in 2009, other events undermining its appeal to traders and the public.

The shows were a chance for vehicle and accessory manufacturers to show off their new wares, sometimes aided by a plethora of scantily-clad women who would drape themselves, somewhat unflatteringly, across the bonnets of the cars.

The cars on show would vary from the mundanely ugly (like the hideous Austin Allegro Mk.2 – seen below on the left) to the stunningly beautiful Series 3 E-Type V12 Jaguar (below right)

Other well-known cars which made their debut at the 1975 show include the Lotus Esprit (one of the most famous cars – along with the Aston Martin DB5 – to appear in James Bond movies), the omnipresent Volkswagon Golf and the Jensen Interceptor Coupe.


But, like I have said, my fascination we probably less for the cars than the huge number of bars that surrounded the display floor, all offering ‘liquid beverage’ and all, apparently, extremely lax in checking that their customers were of a legal drinking age. You gotta love Britain in the 70’s!

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