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Main photo: the curved window allowed a view down to the record department Inset: the popular listening booths at Millers Music Shop Photo:Alan WillisPhoto: Viv ‘Twig’ Brans
Millers Music Shop was on Sidney Street, opposite Boots the Chemists.Looking across the road, it would have been to the right of what is now Marks & Spencers. The ground floor of the shop sold televisions and radiograms, the first floor sold musical instruments and the basement was for listening to - and buying - records. Warren says: “On Saturday morning, everyone would meet downstairs as the first stop of the weekend. We would crowd into open standing booths to hear the latest pop records. occasionally even buying one!” John ‘Pole’ Taylor remembers winning a ‘Twist’ competition in a room above the shop. Having beaten
Syd Barrett into second place, he chose a Miles Davis record, Bags’ Groove for his prize. Those interested in jazz by the likes of Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Thelonius Monk which was mostly sold in LP format were allowed to listen in enclosed booths with seating. Millers also had a second record shop, where we sometimes went. This was in King Street, opposite Malcom Street and the Corner House restaurant. Millers today, although nearby, is at an altogether different location,” says Warren. Millers was established in 1856 and is still in the original family ownership. Barry Robinson, the present owner,first started working at the shop in 1956, at the age of 13 (part-time, of course).

Millers Music Shop
Photo: Mick Brown
Above: Mods regularly met outside Boots the Chemists opposite Millers Music Shop

A new Beatles record would come out for example we'd rush down to Millers music store get together on one of the little booths used have one of the stand up ones where you fit on three people listening to a single. They also had bigger room booths by 5 to 6 ft you could get in 4-5 people you could listen to the whole LP we would listen to a brand new Beatle LP be would writing the words down and making notes of the cords and stuff We would try to get play again if the serving girl where in a good mood or we smiled at them nicely they might play it a second time. And then While setting up for a gig that night you'd rehearsed one or two of the ones that seemed easiest you got to know well. Then you could announce you know over your pa this is a song called such and such from the new Beatles album which is out today was you know massively exciting to play a really bad rendition with all the wrong words and cords all you pick up in one or maybe two listens. David Gilmour Pink Floyd (November 15, 2015)

Rob Webb ‏@100Covers @MillersMusic @BRSArchive bought my first records at Millers!

Millers played a huge role in my (classical) musical education in the 60s and 70s. I went to school in Cambridge and visited the shop frequently. For over 30 years (I estimate) the Classical Department was managed by "Chris", whose musical preferences moulded mine until I became sufficiently confident to start arguing with him. For mainstream orchestral music his first recommendation was usually Karajan, and if Karajan hadn't recorded the piece then any DGG recording (yes, two G's in those days) would get his vote.

My memory is hazy but I think the shop moved from Sidney Street to Market Passage for a while, before moving to its current site on the corner of Sussex Street and King Street. Millers sold recorded music, sheet music and instruments, and (again, iirc) for a while the instrument part was sold to / handled by(?) another company called Ken Stevens, which had/has a separate shop, also in Sussex Street. Afaik, Millers no longer sells recorded music.

I well remember sampling many LPs in the listening booths, some of which (in the Classical Department) were fully enclosed cubicles with loudspeakers, and a bench seat that could accommodate two listeners at a pinch. The company also had a neat idea to encourage present-giving: if you told them that the LP was to be a gift, they would glue a paper seal to the inside of the LP sleeve which would have to be cut or torn in order to remove and play the disc - clever eh?

Tom Empson


Dave Harwood
08 Nov 2023 at 04:39
I found an article in the 'Cambridge Daily News' dated 29th March 1954: “... Miller's music shop in Sidney Street, where a small fire had broken out in the basement. The wall of a record playing cubicle had caught alight.”
… and a change of address in this court report in the 14th March 1975 edition: “... Millers Music Shop in Sussex Street, Cambridge on January 26.”
… confirmed in an article in the 'Cambridge Weekly News' dated 14th July 1988: “... Nos. 6 and 7 were Millers Music Shop, now in Sussex Street.”



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