Chris Wellard set up his Jazz & Blues Record Shop at 6 Lewisham Way, New Cross in the late 1950s, after he completed his National Service in the RAF and it was there until the mid-1970s. The shop was highly regarded for its knowledgeable and friendly staff and was mentioned in the specialist music magazines and the underground press, such as International Times, as a source of obscure imports. It was used regularly by John Peel and writer/broadcaster Charlie Gillett. Chris and his staff were enthusiastic about promoting the music, organising the National Jazz Convention at Conway Hall and blues expert Chris Trimming founded the London Blues Society in 1967 at the nearby Royal Albert in Blackheath. Other members of staff over the years included jazz writer and discographer Tony Middleton, Stella Williams (later Mrs Wellard), Sue Little and ex-Goldsmiths College student and former lead singer of Johnny Rock & the Prowlers, John Glockler.As a student at nearby Goldsmiths in the late 60s, I visited the shop a great deal, often joining Chris and others for a drink in the New Cross House, a few doors away. Record recitals and music performances took place in the back room. Regular visitors to the shop and pub included jazz trombonist Paul Rutherford, saxophonist and writer Dave Gelly, pianist Howard Riley, Manfred Mann, Tom McGuiness and even Malcolm McLaren who was a fellow Goldsmiths student at the time. At one point, Texan blues guitarist Johnny Winter stayed in the upstairs rooms at the shop. When I left college in the early 1970s, I went to work for Chris at both his New Cross shop and at his shop in Passey Place, Eltham, which was managed by Rosie Jones. Chris ran his wholesale distribution from here, handling jazz and blues labels. The late Neil Kellas worked in the distribution. He was to work extensively within the record industry for Delta Music, Proper and others, and he was later responsible for the wonderful Buzzola compilation series. After the shops closed, Chris continued to operate his wholesale business from his home until he retired. Matthew Wright.
Worked for Chris from 1974 until (can!t really remember!!) Not that long but had a great time. Used to work for Jeany Reed in Peckham before. In the shop with Wendy!! and of course Les!! - now who could forget Les for various reasons. Now a Mother and Grandmother and still working but now in an office in Camberwell. Great times I will never forget. Comment: Jackie Cook
Hi Chris, Peter Lapper here you might remember me, the guy with the bad leg! I used to work @H Hunt and sons gymnastic equipment next to Goldsmiths. I bought my first jazz EP at the shop, Mulligan quartet in 1957-58. I spent many dinner hours in that great shop, I was about 18 then, 74 next month !! at this age it's nice to reminisce. Good luck an good health Chris. Peter (now in Ireland) Comment: Peter Petetheleg
How bizarre to stumble on this site whilst googling Chris Wellard.......my time at the shop certainly had a massive impact on my life. Leaving school at 15 and coming from an estate in south London, I believed my options were limited, but coming into contact with ideas and such bright, interesting, passionate people who all shared a love of life (and jazz)certainly opened the world up to me. I will never forget - Tony commenting loudly on a customer's " heaving bosoms" and asking me to take over serving her the toilet falling through the first floor, the armed bank robbery opposite Dave Rutherford (gorgeous man) setting fire to the top floor Chris yelping loudly due to his piles in the pub the till never being right due to Chris subbing musicians
John G sacking me for throwing out a stapler and a massive crush on Matthew!Wonderful times Comment: Sue Little
(Aug 10, 2014) Anonymous said:I was especially reminded of Chris when Jazzwise did a piece on Chris and the shop in their Brilliant Corners Column.
Really brought back an awful lot of great memories of Chris, and Chris Trimming.
(June 20, 2014) Paul Dinnage said:Spoke to Chris in Eltham today (20.6.14). Hadn't seen him for years. Glad to see him looking so well. Well remember rifling the second hand bin and finding "Blues and Roots" for £1 2s 6d. The start of an obsession. Great days!
(Sept 1, 2013) Chris Wellard said:Would Peter Lowe or Rebecca be kind enough to contact me please? email@example.com
(Aug 27, 2013) Chris Wellard said:It's a lovely feeling to see the shop on the web, and to hear about Peter Lowe is really good. If he could email me, firstname.lastname@example.org I'd be so pleased. The words from Paul also gives me cheer, I remember you Paul. How wonderful to hear that working in the shop altered your musical tastes and outlook. It broadened them I hope. It broadened mine! Thank you Matthew and thank you Tony for the terrific picture. I thank all the wonderful friends who worked there. Stella and I have never forgotten you.
(July 18, 2013) Rebecca Lowe said:Was just with my Dad Peter Lowe the other day and he was reminiscing about the Good Old Days in the record shop so I said I would try and find out if anyone who remembers him is still kicking about. He was good mates with Mr Wellard and Chris Trimming who I am vaguely related to. Anyone got any info?
(July 12, 2013) Paul Wickenden said:I was the Saturday boy here in 1973/74 and it did actually change not only my music taste but also my outlook on life.
(February 1, 2015)My father had a shop in New Cross and in the 60s and early 70s most Saturday's I would go to Chris's shop and spend hours just exploring and spending my pocket money. Chris was a great guy. I remember when a major release was coming out Chris would decorate his window with the album cover and the release date. It's sad that record shops are so few. Steve Sounds and Cheapo Cheapo records were also great places to buy music. Happy times, Chris.
(Feb 6, 2015) I used to call in to the New Cross shop on my home from a Millwall game on a Saturday afternoon around 1970. Sometimes I would also call in to the young man's clothes shop nearer to New Cross Station. I believe that shop was called Dales. Looking back, I was more of a browser than a buyer in Chris's shop but it was a good place to spend part of your afternoon. It was a shop where you could find the difficult to purchase records that were not available elsewhere. Comment:
(May 14. 2015) I met my husband Derrick in Chris Wellard's shop in 1959 Chris was best man at our wedding in 1960. I was at school with Marion. We have very fond memories of the shop and my introduction to Jazz. Comment: June Hall.
(July 20, 2015) Old customers and friends will be interested to know that Chris has retained his enthusiasm for the music. This week I went with him to Eltham Jazz where saxophonist Alan Barnes was appearing with pianist Hugh Ockenden's trio. (Organiser of Eltham Jazz, and Hugh's wife, is Marion, who worked for Chris at New Cross way back.) Alan played well, as usual, with great virtuosity, from Websterish baritone to Parker and Adderley inspired alto - the audience appreciative, none more so than Chris! Looking forward to the next time. Matthew Wright
(October 01, 2015) Hello Chris. Fantastic reminiscences of the shop in the 60's Would like to contact Chris Trimming. Do you have any contact information for him. Kind regards Beth (Beryl but couldn't stand the name)
(October 28, 2015)I'm delighted to find this memoir! (And I remember you from Goldsmiths', Sue Little). I spent many hours in the shop, trying the two Chris' patience with unreasonable demands relating to American folk and blues imports. It's no exaggeration to say that had it not been for that patience and the passion, humour and diligence that were the hallmarks of Chris W's business practice, my subsequent musical development would have been significantly hampered. Both the long-forgotten Goldsmiths skiffle band Bismark's Imperial Jug Wizards and its psychedelic successor the Nervous System drew substantially on Chris' stock. In the first instance, imported Folkways and Arhoolie albums provided us with a jug band repertoire and in the second imported Elektra and Vanguard LPs gave the Nervous System access to the cutting edge folk-rock bands breaking in the States in '66 and '67. So I'm glad to be able to file a tribute to our friend Chris Wellard who provided us with the musica l software to be just that little bit different at a crucial time. A New Cross House pint of Guinness, please, Bernie, for the mighty Chris Wellard: Comment:Dick Jones.
(December 13, 2015) Whilst musing on my all too brief time spent in London my mind wandered onto Chris Wellard's shop. What a pleasant surprise to find this web page, and a piece by my one-time friend Matthew Wright. (Matthew, if you see this, it would be great to hear from you). I was at Goldsmith's 1969-70 and was bass player with the above-mentioned Johnny Rock and the Prowlers. Several of my vinyl albums still bear a Chris Wellard sticker. Comment: Alan Hale.
( Jan 18, 2016) Great times,great people! I don't know where to start, but Matthew may need to edit this before it exceeds "War & Peace". One of the things that has always impressed me was the range of music Chris sold: Chart stuff (as per most record shops), Jazz, Folk, Blues, "Hippy" imports (John Fahey, Frank Zappa), The Irish Top 20, Brass & Military Bands, Jim Reeves (or "Sacred Music" as some of our customers called it)...Blue Beat(Before my time: Chris Blackwell delivering Jamaican singles out of the back of his car... then "Humpity Dumpity" being requested to be played 25 times in 1 day - and the decision..."No more Bluebeats"), Easy Listening and on and on. How did it all fit into that tiny shop?
Bebop being explained to me by Chris - how many Charlie Parker albums have I now got??? (Tons)
Johnny Harris (SP&S Records) (Our biggest supplier at 1 time) used to visit on a Saturday with a van-load of deleted albums. I later went to work for John (as did Ros & Neil.). Whilst working for SP&S I met Malcolm Mills who started what is now Proper Music Group and I'm still working there. I must say I don't remember sacking Sue Little. I am currently listening to:
Howard Riley Trio - Discussions (with Barry Guy & John Hiseman) recently reissued by Dusk Fire Records (DUSKCD114) which Chris put out in 1968. The original LP would set you back over £1,000.00 as Chris only pressed 99 copies - it's probably the most sort after UK jazz LP ever. Thanks, Chris & Stella, and what I will refer to as the mob. Comment: John Glockler.
P.S. Does Sue still have the poems Philip Larkin sent her when he was a customer of hers?
Jimmy Huff 'I loved this shop and great looking at the photos. I used to love his mental sales where you could pick up an album for a penny and advertise an album in whitewash on front of shop great days. (June 3, 2016)
Brendan Talbott 'It's misty eyes time. I lived in New Cross and bought my first record from Chris' shop in 1958 when I was 13. It was Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson on a Coral 78. I've still got it. I went back a month or so later to get my second, Great Balls Of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis when Chris handed it to me on 45, saying this is the future. From then on I bought regularly, pocket money permitting. It was that shop that started me on my passion for the Blues. I remember going past the shop a few years later and Muddy Waters Live At Newport import LP was in the window. I rushed in and bought it immediately. After 7 years of building my record collection I moved away from New Cross and lost track until a few years later when I discovered the mail order side of Chris' business. Later I discovered Asmans, Collets, Dobells, Mole and Ray's but Chris Wellards was the first and the most influential in my life. I wonder where the staff are now, I remember two young girls, Lynn and Eileen who I got to know. As I said misty eyed time.' ( June 22, 2016)
Name Christer Svensson Comment: Now that I'm an old geezer of 70 I think it's wonderful to find this on the Internet. I was a mail order customer in the 60s, buying Dylan, blues and Woody Guthrie records which were hard to find in Sweden. Visited the shop in '65 and met friendly Chris and Stella and thought I bought way too many records. Not enough, I now would say. Kept coming back the next few summers. Spent a lunch break with Chris and another guy in the pub nearby (I can't remember either of us eating anything) and went straight back in the shop and got a couple of more records and the Godrich & Dixon blues discography which I treasure to this day. That's one time my resistance was thankfully lowered by beer. Chris even provided me with a penfriend, a lovely darkhaired girl. I also remember coming into the shop asking if they had any John Mayall records and was instead treated to Elmore James which immediately changed my priorities. And once the window display featured a harmonica alleged to have been lost by Sonny Boy Williamson in the toilet at some venue. "His favourite harp. Losing it broke his heart and killed him". (August 19, 2016).
Name Bernard Vyner Comment: Just decided to listen to a 10in LP called Oscar Pettiford Quartet recorded in March 1954 with Al Cohn, Kai Winding, Tal Farlow, Max Roach, Henri Renaud and of course Oscar Pettifird. An absolute classic. Thanks to Chris who had it for sale at 0.75p in May 1973.Ah memories of fantastic bargains in those days. ( Sept 17, 2016).
Name Rosie/Ros Ray (nee Jones) Comment: I’ve come across this site with great joy and also great sadness, having recently learnt of John Glockler’s death. John was a really lovely man, with such passion for music (and a soft spot for Gene Vincent in particular) and I have hugely fond memories of him.
Working for Chris was a life-changing experience, and I owe him a great debt of gratitude. I had a fabulous musical education from him, and also from Tony M and John G, all of them generous in sharing their encyclopaedic knowledge and passion. It was the best and most fun place I ever worked, met so many interesting and vibrant people and made some life-long friends.
Yes, Sue Little, I remember the armed robbery in the bank at New Cross! What a shock we got, hearing the shots, then a bank clerk telling us that a bullet had gone through the seat of his chair upstairs – fortunately he wasn’t sitting in it at the time! And, yes, the lovely and talented Paul Rutherford was a favourite visitor.
I started at the New Cross shop in 1971, a naive 17 year old. Tony took me under his wing and got me to mend his jumpers. He would buy cream cakes for the 2 of us at lunchtime so frequently that I eventually had to hide them in my bag and pretend I’d eaten them, as he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Indeed, all I ever seemed to consume was cream cakes and beer, the New Cross House being the other lunchtime destination (always being wary of the landlady’s sandwiches as her hygiene was a bit suspect). Memories of going to the pub after closing Thursday half day, then reeling back to put ridiculous sale stickers on records. Buying records from hard up Goldsmiths students towards the end of term, and them coming back to buy more records at the beginning of term when they got their grant.
The old lady who, after I’d bought her secondhand classical records for the shop, leaned over and handed me 50p, whispering, ‘Here you are dear, buy yourself a bra’. Chris, ever generous, letting me have his Fiat 500 on indefinite loan and paying for half my driving lessons. Chris, passed out on the floor upstairs. In fact, there often seemed to be someone passed out on the floor upstairs on Saturday afternoons. 1972-1976 I managed the new shop at Eltham, working with Matthew and Sue A’court, amongst others. (April 1, 2017)
Paul Wickenden said: I worked in Chris Wellard Records 1973/74 as the Saturday boy. Tony Middleton run the shop although Chris was the boss. Chris opened a shop in Eltham in 1974 but it never had the same impact as the New Cross shop and soon closed. Tony went on to work in Dobles.
Good to see Chris Wellard's New Cross shop remembered. Spent many a happy hour there in the late '60's, bought so many of my blues albums there. Never forget getting hold of the then unreleased Robert Johnson 'second' album from him - a white label bootleg which I still have.
In 1968, at the age of twelve, I began collecting blues records with as an insatiable appetite as my paper-round earnings would allow. In 1970, through advertisements in Blues Unlimited magazine, I discovered Chris Wellard’s shop. Living just outside of Hull, in East Yorkshire, I had my own circuit of record shops (both new and second-hand records) in the city, which I would tour, most Saturdays. Added to this was Chris Wellard’s, all the way down there, “in that London”. The BU adverts would include fabulous, sales, offers of imported blues albums. At the time, I was crazy about pre-war country blues and with labels, such a s Yazoo at discounted prices, such temptations required financial capitulation.
Receiving those wonderful LPs, packaged in what had become the recognisable, corrugated cardboard packaging, with the postmark of that far off place, was a thrill that would only be matched (entirely?) in my later, teenage years.
Among my record buying of the time, I also acquired, at a prolific rate, albums on the obscure, Austrian label, Roots. As Chris Wellard and his staff helped me on my way into and along blues record buying bliss, little did I know that thirty years later I would own the record company that had, as part of its family tree, the Roots label.
This year, my fellow director and wife, Gillian and I received the 2018 award from The Blues Foundation for “Keeping The Blues Alive” and I thank Chris Wellard and his staff of the time, for their part in helping me, by sending me those wonderful records during those magical years in my quest to hear more and more of this amazing music.
Gary Atkinson. (2018)
I spent many happy hours in the shop. Mostly when I was supposed to be at Addey & Stanhope school in New Cross Road. Tony was happy to let me listen to loads of stuff even though I rarely had the money to buy anything. I did buy some landmark albums there which I still have and I have an Arlo Guthrie poster on my living room wall which Tony gave me.
Reading this brings back so many memories. I was 16 when I worked there, I'm 61 now. I had forgotten some of the names mentioned but faces came flooding back.
I remember the well known people who shopped, well more lingered really, too many to mention.
So thank you Chris Wellard and all the people who made me happy to go to work and for dragging me into the New Cross Arms for a light ale. Happy days
Went to Haberdashers' Aske's at New Cross from '59 to '66. We used to go to the shop after school and listen to Jazz Messengers, Cannonball Adderly, plus rhythm & blues artists such as Little Walter, Howling' Wolf. Muddy Walters, Bo Diddley and others. I remember that we used to try to make out that we undecided as to whether to buy or not - the truth being of course that we had no money.
At the time we thought that we were being so clever; the reality is that we fooled nobody except ourselves. I suspect that Chris just enjoyed other people liking jazz and R&B.
I'm just sorting through 60 odd years of my vinyl before I give them all away to good homes, when I came across Songs of Leonard Cohen with a Chris Wellard Records Ltd price sticker on it (£2.17), which then brought me to this site. I recall buying it there vividly.
My memories of Chris go way back into my childhood, childhood, childhood. His parents were my god parents, or whatever the cp equivalent might have been, apparently. Anyway on birthdays and Christmasses through my childhood, Chris would give me an absolute gem of a Jazz record. I can remember an LP of Louis Armstrong’s early recordings with Louis playing with Johnny Dodds, Ma Rainy, Trixey Smith and many more. How could I not grow up with an historical appreciation of Jazz especially as my mum and dad were such fans as well. Over the years I heard music that many of my mates had never come across like Ornette Coleman, John Handy, Charlie Christian (Swing to Bop), Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Barnie Kessel, Django Reinhardt, and on and on including Lonnie Donnigan. My knowledge of the Jazz greats was unusually broad by the time I got to be 16 all due th Chris. Thanks mate. So generous! After that I started frequenting the shop on a Saturday afternoon and going to the blues record recitals in the local pub, run jointly by himself and Chris Trimming. I met Tony Middleton as well which was a bonus. Such a great and generous guy who went out of his way to introduce me to the local musicians like, Manfred Mann, Tom McGuiness and Alexis Korner and hired out the flat over the shop for me to rehearse my latest blues band. Great times. Hope you’re going well all of you especially you, Chris and Stella. Thanks for the Christmas card. Love, Martin. P.S Lovely site this! xx
I went to Aske's School at New Cross from 1959 -66. The school was just round the corner and up the (long) hill!. From about 1961 We used to call into the shop most weeks and listen to the latest jazz and blues imports. We always came up with some excuse for not buying. We thought that we so sophisticated - but Chris knew that we were hard-up school kids and could only afford one record every blue moon. He never minded I think spreading the love of music was reward enough for him.
First heard Giant Steps in his shop, I still have the copy that I bought there.
Great times when the "thing" was to own the vinyl and read the cover until you could remember the liner notes by heart.
Thank you Chris and staff for helping encourage my musical development.
I was just going through some old Jazz News mags that I bought from about 1960 on when I was a teenager and came across an ad for Chris' New X shop. This brought back great memories of Saturday afternoons there listening to the records and occasionally buying some. Usually this was with my old chum Richard Letchford (still a friend) who played double bass and sax and his wife Julie,a lovely jazz singer, they lived in Peckham at the time and were great friends of Chris. I also remember the sessions in the New X House and the evening bring your own record club sessions hosted by Chris in the upper room of the Marquess of Granby pub opposite (can't see that anyone has mentioned that here). I'll always remember the look on Chris' face when I asked him if he had the latest Beach Boys album one day, we all loved a gee-up ! Anyway it was thinking about those days that made me look him up on the web today and found this site. Thanks for the happy memories Chris.
Image John Low
This ad attached that brought back the memories. John Low
Image Anthony Middleton
Bill Carey Looks At The London Jazz Disc Jazz Scene. Image Mick Brocking
Image Matthew Wright
Image Matthew Wright