( May 6, 2016) Phone book search results for ‘Francois’ at 4 Purley Parade, High Street, Purley, showed it was open from 1957 to 1977. It then became ‘Purley Cameras’ which continued to sell records at the same address from 1977 to 1992. This would mean that I bought Go West’s first album at Purley Cameras in 1985. I also found a liquidation entry in The London Gazette dated 11 May 1992 for FARMWOOD ELECTRICAL LIMITED (trading as Purley Cameras) Retailer of Cameras and Records at 4 Purley Parade, Purley, Surrey: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/52916/page/8118/data.pdf Comment: Dave Harwood
11th March 2015, on a Facebook page relating to a reunion of St. Peter’s School, Coulsdon:
Vanessa Green: “Bridget Maxwell went to school in Purley with me and Marilyn Mitchell, her Dad owned Francois the camera and record shop by Astoria cinema.”
Name Wendy Carter Comment: I worked and ran Francois records which was at the back of the camera department for Alex Falk The Camera Centre (Whitgift Centre) previously Camera Corner Pit Lake Bridge. From early 1970's until 1976 It was an exciting time in music and saw the birth of Queen amongst others we went through decimalisation, the miners strike and 3 day weeks half day closing on a Wednesday and lunch time closing as well as not working Sundays. Happy days. (March 10, 2017)
“The 1972 Croydon phone book has ‘Camera Centre’ at 82 Church Street, Croydon and also at 96 Whitgift Centre, Croydon. At least one branch sold records, as the attached price sticker for 99 n.p. (new pence – decimal day was 15/2/71) shows. It was stuck on the front of a copy of the 1971 released Sunset LP ‘Cotton Fields’ by the Johnny Mann Singers. The Whitgift Centre branch was at that location until at least 1983, by which time Alex Falk had opened ‘Mr. Cad’ (Camera Audio Discount) at 1034 Whitgift Centre as well. I have a 1981 ‘Mr. Cad’ receipt that has the registered company name as ‘Francois Photographic Ltd.’ which confirms the link. ‘Camera Centre’ in Church Street had been there since 1966 and there was also a branch at 8 Station Road, West Croydon in 1967 where I bought my first SLR camera. Company details still exist on the internet for ‘Francois (Photographic) Ltd.’ at 294a High Street, Sutton, Surrey with the same company number that is on my 1981 ‘Mr. Cad’ receipt. I remember taking my camera to the Sutton shop for repair in the mid 1970’s. What a tangled web!” Dave Harwood (May 17, 2017)
I seem to recall that after it stopped being Francois, it was known for a while as 'KC Records'. Whether this was a separate entity or simply worked out of the back of Purley Cameras I don't know. Anyways, I bought a Charlie Feathers reissue on Charly there in'76...
I frequented Francois from the early 1970s when one of the first albums bought from there was An Electric Storm by the White Noise which had to be especially ordered for me. Working then for Post Office Telecom in the stores at Purley High Street from 1975 till it’s closure in January 1977, Francois was a lunchtime draw to browse through their LPs. Listening to Radio Caroline in those days and often hearing great new music, Francois would always be able to order albums by obscure artists such the Dutch band Kayak for me. Also used the Camera shop for development of films and photographic odds and ends. As mentioned above, Alex Falk had an involvement and after the closure of Francois, Manager David could still be seen behind the counter at the ground floor Whitgift shop or in the big Mr Cad store in Windmill Road.