Family behind Ripley music shop reach grand finale, closing after 112 years

Jim and David Melbourne pictured in their music shop on Oxford Street which is closing after 112 years.
Jim and David Melbourne pictured in their music shop on Oxford Street which is closing after 112 years.

A Ripley home entertainment shop is to close this month, ending three generations of a family business which has served the town for 112 years.

Fowlers Music on Oxford Street will sound its final note at the end of the month, as brothers David and Jim Melbourne prepare to retire.

Albert Fowler's original music Shop on Nottingham Road, Ripley.

Albert Fowler's original music Shop on Nottingham Road, Ripley.

It is the end of an era for the store, which has pioneered new electronics and musical instruments in the region throughout a century of technological revolutions.

David, 72, said: “Our grandfather Albert Fowler moved here in 1904 and bought two cottages. He played the banjo and mandolin, and used to travel all round the local villages giving piano lessons.

“He sold pedal organs and pianos, which he’d take out on a pony and trap. He also sold jam-jar cylinder records, then HMV gramophones with the first 78rpm vinyl.”

When Albert died in 1954, the shop passed on to his daughter and then to her sons. Jim, 83, served in the armed forces early in his career, but David said: “I’ve never known anything but the shop.”

Original shop owner Albert Fowler, grandfather to David and Jim.

Original shop owner Albert Fowler, grandfather to David and Jim.

They maintained their heritage, travelling around the region to demonstrate their stock of pianos, organs and instruments and attracting customers from miles around.

David recalls: “Our trade was best when everyone thought they’d be a Beatle, and the buses would bring people in from Heanor and Langley Mill. The town was packed.”

In later years, they moved into CDs, television repairs and high-end audio, becoming mid-Derbyshire’s leading dealer of brands such as Bose and Technics before they became mass-market names.

The shop’s services became a fixture in the community and both brothers say this is what they will miss most.

The windows stocked with original HMV gramophones and 78rpm records.

The windows stocked with original HMV gramophones and 78rpm records.

Jim, who used to run the Post Office too, said: “We have customers in every day to say they don’t know what they’ll do without us. Nothing will ever replace this Aladdin’s cave.

“It’s been a hard decision and we’ll take a lot of fond memories with us, but retail has changed and I’d like more time with my wife.”

The closing down sale is now on with a great range of bargains on offer.

Jim and David Melbourne pictured in their music shop with television presenter Larry Grayson.

Jim and David Melbourne pictured in their music shop with television presenter Larry Grayson.