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St. George’s Walk 1967/8 Photo Dave Harwood

I used to regularly visit the St. George’s Walk branch in my lunch break. I had just started my apprenticeship in Aug. 1965 at the Croydon Advertiser offices, just round the corner at 36 High St., Croydon. On a Friday my pay packet was burning a hole in my pocket! The staff were very persuasive at Cloake’s, insisting “Don’t you want the new Rolling Stones album?” as I browsed the racks. I found myself leaving the shop having purchased ‘Aftermath’. Luckily it was a good album and I still have it in my rack. They had listening booths along one wall, near the counter at the back, and I remember checking out ‘Jack Orion’ by Bert Jansch before buying it.

H&R Cloake, at 29 High Street, Croydon (two shops to the right of the entrance of St. George’s Walk), had two floors – classical upstairs and everything else downstairs. They also started using the basement for their bargains and deletions at reduced prices. The shop survived until the early 2000’s and then a bargain CD & DVD outlet took over the premises for a few more years. Comment: Dave Harwood.

( March 19, 2016) I remember visiting near Streatham station in 1969/70 – could it be possible that it might still have been L&H Cloake’s double shop unit at 334/336 Streatham High Road, but in the process of moving to their smaller single shop unit at 262 Streatham High Road, when they reorganised and changed names to L. Cloake & Son Ltd?

The Croydon branch didn’t relocate to the High Street until after March 1969, as I remember listening to Free’s ‘Tons Of Sobs’, in the booths in St. George’s Walk, before buying it. Comment: Dave Harwood

Cloaks in Croydon had an amazing basement where they would sell new deleted albums
for, I think £1 each. This would be around 1969-73 when I was a schoolboy with limited pocket money, so this basement allowed me to buy titles I would never be able to afford otherwise. In particular, at one pont the basement was full of mono pressings, which nobody was interested in buying. As a result I have complete mono LP runs for both the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane , two of my favourites acts at the time , as well as deleted imports by the likes of the James Gang, Iron Butterfly, and Steppenwolf. I remember the basement particularly had a lot of fairly obscure US 'underground' albums, and I was able to hear a lot of music I had only read about in the music press. Comment: Ian Stuart

Cloake's Records in Croydon made a few bob out of me in the 1970's, particularly their Bargain Basement. I've only got to get a whiff of vinyl and patchouli oil and I'm back there, like that French bloke with his hob nob. Comment: mmmmbeer

(May 15, 2015)Used to spend a lot of money on Punk/New Wave 45s in the Streatham branch in 1978/79 and they had a fine selection for sure. I can only guess that they closed the Brixton Branch in the early `70s as it became a Muzik City outlet selling Reggae (as you'd pretty much expect in Brixton!). Comment: Marc Griffiths.

( Jan 23, 2016) I remember the Bargain Basement! Around 1975 or 1976?? They had some american imports - I got the Beatles Let it Be american gatefold sleeve with the corner cut off and the red Apple label. Nice pictures here - I still remember the paper bags! Got Led Zep III here on cassette too. Comment: David A​.

Yes I remember them well, L. & H. Cloake Ltd., and I believe they had three branches, Streatham,SW16, Croydon, very near Whitgift Centre, and the one you mentioned in Crawley.
I knew the London branches first, as a customer, later as a record rep. and lastly as an Import supplier. I think the son of the owner was Paul Cloake, and they were an old fashioned 'proper' business, and could have been very old, in the sense that they had been in business for a long time.
As a rep. for Transatlantic Records, I then visited the Crawley shop, which I had hitherto been unaware of.
That was in 1975, and by 1978, I had my own import business, and used to supply the Croydon Shop. They are I assume now well out of business.

I had also called at the Croydon outlet the previous year, 1977, when I worked for Tony Monsons' Disc Empire. Tony had been a DJ in Bermuda (or Bahamas) as well as a genuine Pirate DJ somewhere off the coast of South East England, in the mid 60s and is a real character.
Tony also had his own Record Shop in Brighton's North Street, and it was called Sounds Unlimited, to the best of my knowledge. That was also on my Transatlantic route, every fortnight. I notice that another post mentions W. H. Smith, at Churchill Square, Brighton, which I also used to visit, after going to the Virgin Record Shop, by the Clock Tower in Brighton, where the "heads" worked, but such great people. Happy days......

Edited by YankeeDisc on 18th Jun 2011, 10:33 PM

"The phone books show that L&H Cloake had only one branch in Streatham in 1965, at 334 High Road, SW16. They then opened a branch, at 262 High Road, Streatham SW16 in 1967, taking their phone number (01-769 7304) with them (334 High Road, SW16 isn’t listed in the 1967 phone book).
They then, apparently, closed the 93 Granville Arcade, SW9 branch in Brixton (as it is not listed in the 1968 phone book) but 262 High Road, SW16 and 334 High Road, SW16 are both listed in the 1968 phone book (and both continue to be listed until 1973). This would seem to indicate that they moved the Brixton branch into the original Streatham premises at 334 High Road, SW16, the phone number of which had changed to 01-677 9422 in 1968. It looks like it finally closed in 1974. (It is not listed in the 1975 phone book).
The 262 High Road, SW16 branch didn’t change it’s name to L. Cloake & Son until 1979/80 and it closed in 1983. (It is not listed in the 1984 phone book).
That solves the mystery regarding my visits to both addresses in Streatham between 1969/72 – they were both branches of L&H Cloake!” - Dave Harwood. (March 30, 2016).

Name Vivanne LEONARD nee Briggs Comment I worked in L@R Cloakes Croydon in the early/late 1970s. The original owner still worked there at that time. He had started the shops with his brother who ran another of the shops. Both brothers had sons who then went on to own the Redhill and Crawley stores. About 1977 Mr Cloake senior opened a shop in Brighton which was managed by Trevor who had previously been a Supervisor in the Croydon store.

Cloakes was a giant of a store before any of the major record stores were on the scene. On the ground floor was the largest selection of vinyl in the south of england covering all genres. We had special imported 7" and albums from Europe, America and Japan The basement was overstocks and cut outs. Some great bargains to be had. The top floor was classical music, 8 tracks and tapes. Also musical instruments at one time. Great memories of that shop... my very first job at the age of 16 :-) (July 21, 2016).

Name Shane Burnett Comment: I used to visit H&R Cloakes in Croydon quite often during my lunch hour when i worked at the Home Office on wellesey Road during the early & mid nineties. I had great times digging in there, they always had the latest on trend stuff. On occasion me and my mate Dave would get the under counter drops on the Friday the weekend before the offical release dates ....made us feel like dons ! - I remember one such time getting DJ Shadow - Entroducing on Mowax double 12" album (still got it in the stack) Nick Hugget (Now XL A&R who went on to sign Adele, dizzee rascal and MIA) used to come with the selection and later went on to work at Mr Bongos (b ig up mate). Trevor worked there also and used to let us put stuff on the turntable at the left hand side of the counter, great memories.

When the UK breakbeat scene was at full force you could be certain you would find the dope promos and release's in a timely fashion, many many times I came out with a carrier bag of goodies which always made the weekend complete.

Also recall going a few times while still at school (88 - 91) and getting a few UK Hip Hop 12"s from the likes likes of Hijack and Blade very informative times for me. I left Croydon in 2001 to live in Australia - my mate Dave used to still go right up until closing in 2009 was sad when he said it had shut down.

We still laugh about the time - Nick put on Photek - Rings Around Saturn and Trevor said it sounded like a band tuning up !! - brilliant and very happy memories. PS - never ever went upstairs ! (Sept 7, 2016).

Name Stef Glasgow Comment: I worked at the Croydon branch for approximately 1 year. Used to be a regular customer & visitor there before that. I have a lot of great memories regarding that shop. (March 5, 2017)

I worked at the 262 high road Streatham Branch from leaving school in 1975 till I left in about 1978. I went down the basement there one day when I just started full time, and found stacks of old singles with picture sleeves. EPs and a host of classic overstocks like All Right Now Layla Paranoid etc. I suggested we put them on a hand written list in the window. The boss Mick Booth thought I was mad, but because you couldnt really buy copies of these in shops once they were deleted, it went crazy..we sold em all out within a week. So they trusted my judgement after that..when Anarchy in the UK came out I told the boss we needed at least 50 copie s..he said ok, but if they dont sell youve gotta pay for em. It arrived in the black cover, and we sold 50 in about two days..then the floodgates opened..I took charge of all the punk stuff, going up to Stiff records and buying 100 copies of the first 5 singles..then a bloke called Trevor came round on the island records van with all the punk and new wave stuff, we had em all at that time..The Damned New Rose / Neat Neat Neat, Eater, The Nosebleeds, The Adverts, TRB, and we became the biggest new wave / punk seller in South London. Happy days, very exciting to be part of!

I remember Cloake's being on Croydon High Street. I always went 'upstairs' for additions to my classical music collection - many bargains and very happy memories of a past Croydon which doesn't exist any more.
Jill Thomas

Hi, Did Not they have a store in Norbury a few doors down from the Norbury Hotel and Opposite the Lloyds Bank.
Paul Marks

I read with great interest the memories people have for H&R Cloake Ltd.
I've recently purchased a cd off eBay with a price ticket still stuck to the box. £14.99. That's not cheap now, so someone paid a lot of money back then for my cd, which by the way is quite unique,Shostakovich transcribed for solo piano. From what I read, this cd was originally displayed 'upstairs'.
David Rhodes

I used to be a regular at Cloakes Croydon. I seem to recall a new singles box on the counter? Def bought Siouxsie - Playground Twist there & I first heard Kraftwerk Man Machine playing in there, had to ask what was playing & instantly fell in love with that album.
Alan Bryant

L & H Cloake East Sussex


Look beyond ‘Art & Design’ and the empty shop (which will become ‘Classic Cameras’ – see my 1967/8 photo on BRSA), you can see ‘L & H Cloake Record Centre’. Dave Harwood.


Image Elliot Thorpe June 1996





29 High Street Croydon / Surrey
14 St. George’s Walk Croydon / Surrey

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