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Gavin Underhill
06 Jun 2023 at 07:41
Bennett & Escott's might well have been top of the hit parade when it came to record shops in Weymouth when the above bag was printed (presumably in the 1950s? I've just discovered the shop itself had been there a lot longer than that!), but was bottom by the 1970s when I was a record-obsessed teenager living there. In fact, I rarely if ever went in there looking for any as I knew it would almost certainly be a waste of time!

Surprisingly for a small and fairly isolated town on the south coast, punters like myself were relatively well-served. Apart from the chains like WH Smith, Woolies and Debenhams all having half-decent vinyl stock, the town had at least a couple of switched-on independent stores selling new releases: Austins on the seafront (where you could order in specialist records that weren't normally stocked) and Tape & Record Exchange in Frederick Square (which always had a good selection of funky disco 45s that had barely scraped the charts, and could thus be picked up for 25p from bargain bins stuck on the front of the counter. The downside was that the miserable git behind it would stare down at you in disgust as you rifled your way through them!)

Perhaps the fondest memory for me though was rummaging through what I only later realised were culled from local pub jukeboxes (like US 45s they had no "centre", so you had to buy spindles to stick in!) in Dave's Disc Den every Saturday morning. It was actually only open then as Dave's day job was as a postie (and I presume he only did that to make a bit of cash on the side, as he never seemed particularly interested in the stock). Also the shop was tiny, to put it mildly, with the singles crates stacked around an L-shaped counter that took up at least half the space! But despite that, my chums and I were always like pigs in shit - never leaving the place without a handful of 45s that had been chart hits a few months previously - or at least as many as we could afford to buy with our meagre pocket money handouts, ha ha!

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