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Market Place, Romford 1976 This photograph includes a sea cadet marching band, possibly Romford Sea Cadets and provides a rare view of Downtown Records at 36, Market Place. Downtown Records began on a Market stall as Clive’s Records and shops were opened Basildon, Brentwood, Westcliff-on-Sea, Ilford and Billericay, with the Romford shop opening c. 1971/2. It later moved to 3, Lockwood Walk in the Liberty Shopping Centre and became Downtown Discount Record and Tape Centre before being sold to HMV sometime in the mid to late 1980s, after over a decade as Romford’s outlet for the radical cultural change and music trends wrought by Prog Rock, punk, new wave, ska and the mod revival. Alan Jones

It started as a Market Stall and became briefly a chain! There was also a branch of Downtown in Westcliff London Road near The Plough pub where they would sell you bootlegs under the counter. I remember buying King Crimson and Yes boots in the pre-punk era with my paper round money. Comment: Graham Burnett

In the 60's and 70's Downtown Records on London Road near The Plough pub where they would sell you bootlegs under the counter. I remember buying King Crimson and Yes boots in the pre-punk era with my paper round money. Comment: Quercusrobur.
Worked with Chris sandy, Alan jones and Donna, still my best friend, from 1978 to 1984 in the Basildon shop. Still playing my records, my musical education now being passed on to my kids. Comment: Caroline

I've still got all my Jam picture cover 7 inch singles and most of my Two Tone and Mod stuff. From '79 to '83 I spent what little money I had in there and used to love jumping on the old 87 from 'The Bronx' - walking around the proper old Romford and mingling with the Mods, Skinheads, Punks, Rude Boys etc inside and outside Downtown. Brings back proper memories. Just played a mates original copy of Setting Sons - mint condition - including the Downtown price sticker!!! £4.99 ahhhhhhhhh happy days. Comment: Dave Creevy

I used to use the romford branch as my office.in the days before mobiles i used to give the number of one of the two phoneboxes outside for people to contact me.reading a lot of revisionist history about those days now.seems to me that in a skin/mod stronghold,as it very much was,the only other person dying their hair was the legend Gary Drew.Downtown was great,but it wasn't the 'fountain'. Comment: GLENN MACFARLANE-VAGE

Loved the Romford Branch. Went through a stage where I used to buy virtually everything from the Punk/oi section. Broke my heart when it closed. Often wonder happened to the Skinhead bloke with all the piercings? Comment: Dan Herbert.

Jeff Anonymous "I was that skinhead with all the piercings back in 1980\1985" ( April 26, 2016)

(May 19, 2014) Moonboy said:Used to sit in the doorway of the Ilford branch in the early eighties waiting for Chris to open the store on delivery days, I always got a cup of tea and first dibs on items as they came out of the box. Bauhaus - The skys gone out with free live LP and poster being a big memory. This was weekdays when I was on the dole. Weekends once I started working saw me and fellow Kallous Boy - Vincent Van Hire make our way to the Romford store where we would invairably divvy up the new punk 7" singles one of us buying the latest releases on No Future and the other buying all the releases on Riot City Records! I dread to think how much money I spent in Downtown but to be honest I always left happy and still have a fair chink of the Vinyl I bought there. I reckon Downtown at that point were my favourite record store alongside Rough Trade at Notting Hill and Small Wonder at Walthamstow. I am off to chuck a couple of Cravats singles on the turntable and pretend I am 17 again

(Apr 23, 2014) Paul Bakewell said:Bagged a new/ mint copy of Small Faces Ogdens (original press with round cover) in the sale for 69p in Romford !

(Apr 9, 2014) Anonymous said:fantastic. what memories seeing that red downtown bag again

(June 7, 2013) Anonymous said:Brilliant shop in Romford. When a new record I was after came out I'd finish school, jump on a 248, get off, straight into Downtown, buy it then get straight back home on the 248, perusing the sleeve, inner sleeve and vinyl (including runn off notes!). Great Indie 7 inch section down the back. I managed to pick up the first Wonder Stuff single (Wonderful day) of which there were only 1000 made. Most of my sadly departed Madness records came from here too. Every trip to Romford on a Saturday was built around Downtown...our price and parrot never really cut it!

(Feb 13, 2013) Preston Morley said:Worked in Downtown in Romford from '79 to '81 on Saturdays and school holidays. Used to get 50p an hour for a 10 hour shift and no lunch break! Loved it though - a really cool place to work.

(Jan 30, 2013) mikey said:remember the guys years ago use to work gravesend market nice guys

(Jan 1, 2013) Paul Cooper said:Downtown in Romford accounted for most of my school dinner money in the late 70s/early 80s. I'd buy very punk single released each week and plenty of LPs too. I'd love some photos if anybody has any to share. Recently found a Downtown 7" carrier bag whilst digging through records in a charity shop.

(Feb 6, 2015) Some of the best days of my life as co- owner of DOWNTOWN. Comment: Clive Spelman

(November 3, (2015)....the happiest days ever. Romford - Dumc & Mick christened me 'Peanut' on the first evening after school I worked and it stuck. Wednesday & Friday 4pm till close. Saturday 8am till whenever. £6 Clive ; co-owner with your brother Paul who ran Romford. Have in mind that ELO were your favoured band at the time ? Dave'Woodstock' Milner bought Romford as the focus became 'Rumours' . Happy times. Comment: Andy Briggs.

( Jan 28, 2016) I was co-owner of Downtown with my brother Paul ... Heady days 😄

( Jan 30, 2016) Clive, I remember you well. As well as Romford I came over a couple of times to Brentwood. You shouted a lot as I recall.... But always with a twinkle in your eyes. Best wishes Andy (Peanut).

Ian Rudall "Bought so many albums and singles from the Basildon branch in the 70's.I was just discovering "real" music and was backtracking on Bowie,Hawkwind Uriah Heep etc.Later on it was where I'd buy all the latest punk and reggae music.
Seeing the bags and especially the gold stickers brings back so many memories of those musically exciting times." ( April 18, 2016)

Name Dave Raeburn Comment Where it all started!! Used to spend all day Saturday in Brentwood store. ( July 21, 2016)

Name Stuart Hamilton Comment: Best job ever working downtown Ilford and Wembley market alongside Clive and Paul Spelman . Happy days really miss it. ( Sep 2, 2016)

Name Mike Harris Comment I used to visit the Romford branch in the late seventies. Not much pocket money so used to by random discounted singles and square mirrored badges. Rolling Stones 'lips' a favourite Used to have a sly look at the cover of Roxy's 'Country Life' in there too! (Nov 4, 2016)

Name Duncan Barnes Comment: Just discovered this page, fantastic.... I worked in the Romford shop from 1975 to 1982 and loved every minute; could write a book about the place but Paul and Clive might sue! Remember all the names of the people mentioned here and more. (hello Peanut, wondered what happened to you! - remember us taping you to a chair and putting you on the counter?!) what happened to Nobby and Mick Zip - anyone know? Hello Clive! - still drinking them all under the table? - we should meet up and carry on...! Better go before I get into trouble with my memories(I'm still selling records by the way) Best to all. (Dec 6, 2016).

Name Ken Parsons Comment: Just had this forwarded on to me. What can I say? Downtown Records,what memories! Am very touched that people out there still remember, and still care. The picture of the oblong gold sticker is the second version. The first was a small round one, about the size of a 1p piece. It was black and white, and depicted a girls face with her hand resting under her chin, just like the one on the black and white image of the bag.It was said to resemble the face of the then wife of one of the owners (hello Annette). I started work with them just as the Billericay branch came into being. Noel Edmonds opened the shop, and it brought the High Street to a standstill! From there I became the manager of the Westcliff branch. Yes, I was the one responsible for selling 'bootlegs'to special customers. Very naughty back then! Like you Duncan, I too could write a book (and make a film) about a lot of what went on. Just like to add, good job the bonnet of a Bentley was strong! But had better keep most of this to myself. The Spelman brothers can probably afford better lawyers than me! Hello, Clive, Paul,and Colin. We had some crazy times. Some of the best times of my life! I got to know customers who became great friends,and I am still in contact with today. I can honestly say I do not regret a single day that I worked for them. It was a gas. The memories still bring back floods of tears (from laughter), even after all these years. I used to have a pet snake, and somehow ended up with the nickname 'python'. A lot of the staff had nicknsmes, so I was not alone! So does anyone out there know what happened, to Dave Pegg,(manager of the Ilfo rd branch),Chris Sandy (manager of the Basildon branch),Dave Milner,aka 'Woodstock', (manager of the Romford branch)? Also the following staff: Gary,aka 'Plod', Gary Fairburn,aka 'Jaws', Alan Jones,aka 'Killer', Steve Ellis, Paul Keys, Barry Stanton,Steve Div, Trevor Beaman, and John and Lance who worked at Westcliff with me. Also Fred and Pinky, the market divs. Guess I better shut up for now. If you do have any info, please post it. Thank you all for your memories. Ken Parsons,aka Kenny Python. (Jan 1, 2017)

Name Mark Luffman Comment: I was red bag generation, worked the market stalls with Dave (who apparently was known as 'Woodstock', but not to me) Milner and Pinky 77/79 - Gravesend Saturday, Wembley Sunday (I used to sleep over at Dave's place Saturday nights where I'd stickybeak his collection - two of every Dylan record) and (my home town) Swanley on Wednesdays. Lots of great memories, and still have records bought there that mean so much to me they made the trip with me when I came to live down under. Street Corner Symphony by Carrie Lucas, in the masterbag with Dave's writing on the label. (March 9, 2017)

Name Aleks Kotulski Comment: Nice page, good memories. Hi to Clive, Chris, Dave based in Brentwood '74-'79 with spells on the market Clive's and drops to Basildon, Westcliff in my Humber. Worked for vinyl which I guess we all did and still have it.
Thanks guys who looked out for my brother Mark after I left. Spent three tours in the states. Heard Dave was based in Rhodes.
Guess the vinyl is making a comeback through supermarkets at £16 - time for a reunion! (March 29, 2017)

Name gary h Comment: I used downtown records in Romford from 1972-first album I bought was Doremifasollatido-Hawkwind with poster-used all my paper round money on vinyl and always jumped on an 86 bus on Saturdays straight to the shop-no outlet in Romford came close in finding the lps I wanted-great memories of those days.

Name dr doom Comment: How well i remember the billericay store,early seventies. spent many happy hours in there, and a shed load of cash. Uriah Heep, Moodies, Bowie, Tull, Wishbone Ash, Van Der Graaf Generator etc, etc. and i still have them all. also remember the two gorgeous girls who worked there, one blone, t'other brunette, never learned their names. fantastic knowledge of the albums they sold. nice bums too! i wish them well. (May 23, 2017)

Comment
Peanut...Andy Gibbs I remember you. I used to hang out with my the boyfriend Steve who I just remembered connected with. I was known as Lizzy back then.
Name
Liza Miles
(2018)

Comment
Like all the other victims here, spent all my paper round money at Downtown. Then worked there after school and during holidays from '77 onwards at the Romford shop IN the Wholesale dept, and then the Ilford shop. On Sundays we used to pack the Ilford shop into the back of a van and drive it to Wembley market. Brilliant crazy times. Don't regret any of it. Nice to be reminded of all these names again, Duncan Barnes, Henry Novak, Dustbin Dave, Woodstock, Pinky,Vambo,Kenny Parsons, PJ, Trevor Bearish, Barry Stanton, Chris & Alan and of course Clive & Paul.
Name
Peter Roden
(2018)

Comment
Before "Downtown", there was Clive's Records in Romford Market. Usually right in front of The King's Head, best pub for music East of London. Clive himself turned me on to a lot of US rock, I still have my original vinyl of " Leh-nerd Skin-nerd" on the Sounds of the South label.Allmans, Marshall Tucker, so much great stuff. All imports, all worth every penny. I'd go onto school at Romfoird Tech. with my latest acquisition, and eventually, we got a good record player in the Sixth Form common room, so we could play our new stuff to a very select and very knowledgeable audience. Thanks Clive for lots of good years and lots of g reat sounds.
Name
Ian Yeldham
(2018)

Comment
I worked in the Billericay shop on Saturday in probably 1979-1980. I remember Clive and Paul turning the back of the shop into an office and wholesale storage for cut-out imports. I remember prior to this Clive's wife ran it (Annette?). I remember Ken, Colin and Jazzbo. It started out as a pure record shop before rental videos and arcade machines came along. Dave Gahan used to come in before he was famous as his girlfriend lived close by.
Name
Alan S
(2018)

Comment
I remember the Romford branch soooo well. I used to deal with Chris French a lot in that shop... Him and the guy upstairs (his name escapes me) who ran the second hand section......I remember the guy upstairs too... dark spiky hair.... can't remember his name.. but I used to speak to him all the time...(2021)
happy days.
Name
Andy Betts
(2018)
Comment
just came across this as I was talking to someone about those days,
Remember Barry Stanton (lightening)
going to a big do at the Hilton in London and forgetting his shoes which he took off to drive.Had Great days Managing the Romford Market Place Shop, and picking Noel Edmunds up when he opened the Ilford Branch, I have seen him since those days over at Southend Airport when he came to our flying club and we were taking kids and parents up for circuits for one of Noel's Charities. I remember Bob Lynn and all the other guys there. Clive was always the Wild one and Paul the sensible one. Paul had a couple of Children ( Chay & Xana I think) who I used to babysit for them.
Name
Gary AKA Plod
(2018)

Comment
My first foray was at the tender age of 11 or 12, the Skinhead with the piercings used to scare the fuck out of me - Sorry. But that place became my Mecca. So many records in my collection came from there. Plus Promo posters when they opened the upstairs up in maybe 84? - Ive still got a Large Bowie Fly Poster for Lets Dance bought for the princely sum of a £5, which is now worth silly money. If I could time travel back - thats where id go. The smell, the feel , the Rows of Record racks laid about before me. That place still has a warm nostalgic glow for me. I was gutted when it closed.
Name
Richard Drew
(2019)

Comment
have great memories of managing the market place shop in the 70's. we used to sell tickets for the Kursall in southend, I also remember selling tickets for David Bowie who was appearing at Romford Odeon. we used to have darts matches out the back with the guys next door. Mick Zip was a DJ and used to come in for all our American imports we sold, he then came to work in the shop not long after. I remember the 3 brothers Colin, Clive & Paul. Clive was always a bit fiery and Paul the sensible one. wonder what Pauls children turned out like (Chay & Xana I think) should remember them I used to babysit for them as well. They bought some nice cars that we got to drive. Annette had a Triumph Stag, Paul had a mustang and then a Daimler double six SMU 56N, Clive had a Maserati Merak and lots more including the Bentley we used like a van sometimes to carry stock from shop to shop. could go on forever. If any of the guys are out there hope your well.
Name
Gary aka "Plod" Tibbott
(2019)

Comment
I used to meet Jeff (the Skinhead) from Downtown Records in Romford every Saturday lunchtime for a drink or three in the Birdcage back in the day . Bought all my 2Tone records and Madness Picture discs from there. great Store. Happy Memories x ps Where are you now Jeff C???
Name
Jill Dolder
(2019)
Comment
Remember, Downtown well. Loved the Romford store around 77/79. Got my early Pistols, Clash, SLF albums from there. My mum worked in an office just outside of the shopping centre. Does my mind deceive me, or was there a store on Bishopsgate for a short while?

Thanks.
Name
Paul Houghton
(2019)
Comment
I bunked-off of school(fryerns) so I could walk to Downtown and buy God save the Queen. Anarchy or what?
Name
Kevin Basildon
(2019)

Comment
I used to go to the Billericay store I bought Hawkwind's Space Ritual there, I used to go to another called "The Music Box" I think it was earlier I bought all my music from 1971-75 in those shops.....distant memories!
Name
Graham Franklin
(2020)

Comment
what good memories from those days. remember managing the Romford Market place shop and getting called out at Christmas with a pole through the shop window. days when the power cuts were on because of the Miner strikes but we had a generator and was the only shop lit up in the marketplace.
Name
Gary Plod
(2020)
Comment
I used to shop in he Romford branch of Downtown Records regularly. As a massive Queen fan I bought every version of every single and album of theirs from Downtown.

I remember going in there the day that the 7" and 12" of I Want To Break free was released in 1984; when I asked for a copy of each the bloke behind the counter said "Which one?" I gave him my thousand yard vacant stare before he told me that there were four different versions of the 7" single (one with each band member on). That was an expensive day, but memorable.

I also remember all the picture discs hanging from the shop ceiling. And the fact that Downtown had a 'comedy' section as well as 'spoken word' put it into the next level of cool places to go. Great memories of the place and a great blog of reminiscing on this site.
Name
Paul Webb
(2020)
Comment
Well well Duncan Barnes - this is Nobby lol! Still got an old Stones VHS with a note from you in it! Great fun working in Downtown Records Romford - such fond memories. You were a minefield of musical information for me working there as a Saturday Boy and during School Holidays - one Cool Boss :). Last time I bumped into you was in The New World Inn in Brentwood I seem to remember - hope you are well
Name
Preston Morley
(2020)
Comment
The record shop to which all others should be judged. I have no idea how I much I spent in there over the years 79-84/85, I was poor in cash I was rich in musical education. I remember when the counter used to be at the far end and then it was down the left hand side ( much talk about that at school ) when the upstairs bit opened up. The hours wasted, the money spent and the journeys back home on the 165 bus. Downtown bag clutched for dear life, pouring over the sleeve again and again till I made the sanctuary of my bedroom.
Name
Richard Drew
(2021)

Comment
Great times, remember them well.Buying bootlegg northern soul tapes,then dancing round the fountain.
Better than the bodypoppers, people started throwing money.Had enough
to pay for my 1st flat-top,in the tunnel barbers,
White Hart or Bitter End.ted.Elmpark.HX.
Name
Ted Jackson
(2021)

Comment
Great times.....I only recently admitted to my Sisters that aged around 12 in '82 i used to raid their Vinyl records stash, and go down to my fav record store Downtown,Romford to sell them upstairs? The store as i recall was about 3 shops in from the BusStop ? Oppposite Halfords? Then with the cash buy Madness records and other stuff,The Jam etc with the Money. Im now 51 btw and my Sisters wer'nt very amused!!! I coincidentally see some of my school mates in their 1 day,and for years they used to say "what you doing the weekend? hanging out down Downtowns in Romford !"
Name
Steve Walden
(2021)

Comment
Used to go to Downtown records in Brentwood and Romford looking for mod revival records and going through the badges and photos, I really can't remember when it closed but it left a big hole in most areas it was based in. Me and my mod mates and school mates would be in brentwood every lunchtime and weekend. Or off to Romford for the bigger shop and hanging around the fountain watching live groups. Then a trip into Mintz and Davis, for the clobber. Happy Times and the coolest urchins of that era. I still collect vinyl and have a few with the downtown lady on.
Name
Jas L
(2022)

Comment
Totally loved the Romford branch of Downtown. I was into early Mute records stuff from 1980 onwards and they would let you have the promo posters when they were finished with them. I remember taking a huge cardboard display home on the busi for Depeche Mode's Construction Time Again album. I've painstakingly re-illustrated the Downtown Records artwork and made it available in my Redbubble store on t-shirts, caps, bags and stickers:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/SynthNerd

Comment
I used to shop in the Westcliff branch in the early to mid 70s, served by pleasant staff.
Name
Dave Fox
​(2022)

Comment
I use to Manage then own the Downtown in Basildon from about 1978 to 1986 when we shut the store, I had worked for Clive and Paul since the early days of Clives in Romford Market and on Saturdays in the Original Downtown Romford at 36 Market Place. Happy Days
Name
Alan Jones
(2022)

Comment
As a teenager I used to get the 250 London Country bus from Theydon Bois to Romford to go to Downtown. Bought all my early albums there - with the little Downtown stickers on the back, and still have (and play) them today. Remember buying Pink Floyd's Animals on the day of release. Wonderful memories.
Name
​Nick Crowe

Comment
Fascinating bit of music history, I’ve wanted to know about this place for a while as most of my dads records have a downtown sticker on them.
Cheers
Paul Royy
​(2022)

Comment
I loved the place used to buy loads of 12inchs from America lots of soul used to go to the
REZz years ago now we were known as the Harold p artists there were also another group called the collier row pas if it came round again it was the best place to go when we where all 15 to16 there was a great dancer
we would watch called Steve Ramorno he was such a good dancer me and my best friend carol we were all friends it was the best time.
Alison Tanner (2022)

Comment
I bought my very first vinyl in Downtown Records in Brentwood as i lived in Hutton so it was our local record shop it was an absolute must going there on a Saturday I also worked in the Chariot fish & chip shop next door.Imagine my delight as i got older and started to get the train to Romford to discover there was another branch i still collect vinyl today. Great memories

Name
Joanne Lewis (2023)

Peter Adams

Bought my first lp in downtown, used to go to Apollo records in the quadrant arcade for 12" singles though.

But used to go to almost all the stores that sold music.

Michelle Laing

Downtown, I'd go in there to see a guy who worked there & ended up with him lol. Still love him & always will xx BZ... Just can't give you up by Mystic Merlin was his song to me, Smile Michelle Laing

Downtown, I'd go in there to see a guy who worked there & ended up with him lol. Still love him & always will xx BZ... Just can't give you up by Mystic Merlin was his song to me, Smile 😂


Comments

Jill Dolder
30 Aug 2023 at 07:46
If anyone knows what happened to ‘Jeff the Skinhead with all the piercings’ who worked in Downtown Records in Romford in the early 80’s reads this please pass on my regards, we were good friends. Downtown Records was a very important part of my love of music🏁
Adam Sands
06 Jan 2024 at 02:36
Just bought what looks like a NOS copy of The Stranglers first album in a second hand record shop and it had a Downtown Records sticker on the rear cover, had to google it and it led me here.
Daz
09 Jan 2024 at 07:52
Just bought a Roger McGuinn LP, pressed in 1973, with a price sticker inside the sleeve: Downtown Records - means discount 99p - is this the right shop?
Clive Spelman
14 Jan 2024 at 08:13
I’m now 80 years old and thank everyone for their kind comments and memories… They were definitely some of the best years of my life

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