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Small Wonder Records was a UK independent record label owned and managed by Pete Stennett, that specialised in releasing records by punk rock and post-punk bands. It operated out of a record shop of the same name at 162 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17, east London. Important artists to have released on the label include Bauhaus, Crass, The Cure, Patrik Fitzgerald, Puncture, Cockney Rejects, Poison Girls and The Angelic Upstarts.

Name: timoc
Comment: Small Wonder Records in Hoe Street, Walthamstow opened up a whole new world of music for me back in the very early 1980s. All the punk you could lay your hands on. It's long gone but not forgotten.

Name: PeteCW
Comment: Anyone remember Small Wonder Records in Walthamstow in the early 1980s? I only went there once - it was dingy and malodorous but had all the US hardcore and UK punk you could want. My mum waited outside while I spent my pocket money before we went off to the Natural History Museum.

Name: Mark Fullick
Comment: Myself and G lived in Walthamstow and were always in Small Wonder, Pete introduced me and G to ART, Great ART you get it from an ART ROCK BAND it was the only record in existence with three sides to the one single. It had two tracks on one side but if you switched from the left speaker to to right you could hear both tracks. There may have been more like this later but at the time - late 1970s/early 1980s - this was just fantastic PUNK.

Pete also introduced me to The Residents, Gong, Faust, Throbbing Gristle, and many more great bands. The picture used on the bag was a photo Pete found under the floorboards of the shop when he was fixing it up before he opened and thought it must be important to be hidden like that so he used it.

Thank you for asking about Small Wonder. So many great memories from this shop and Pete.

Name: Mark Hudson
Comment: I lived in Walthamstow in the early 1980s, and used to go to Small Wonder every Saturday. I was 12/13 at the time, and initially found it somewhat intimidating. I used to buy things (restricted finances permitting) that I'd heard on John Peel's show, listening with a single earphone under the bedcovers. Very 1950s. The staff were great, very friendly towards the weird kid buying a Blue Orchids single. It introduced me to great music and helped make me the music snob I am. Kidding. Not really kidding. Ah, innocent times.

Name: Mark Griffiths
Comment: I must have gone in there a couple of times when I lived in South Chingford. Would have been 1986/87 and I think it must have closed not long after. Bought a second-hand copy of I Roy's Many Moods of I Roy on Trojan which I still have. Back in the 1970s I'd bought a Carpettes 45 on Small Wonder from Cloakes in Streatham.

Name: Vince
Comment: I lived in Chingford in the late 1970s, early 1980s and apart from a trip to Virgin Records in Oxford Street this was the only place you could buy anything punk. And yes, Mark Hudson, boy was it intimidating. Pete Stennett would openly mock you in the shop if you tried to purchase anything he didn't like (conveniently overlooking the fact that he had stocked it in the first place) and if you tried to return a record he would shout, "It's not a love-in library you know..."

But still I loved it and it's a real shame Pete moved on.
(18 August 2014)

Name: Martin English
Comment: Small Wonder will always mean to me the best record shop I ever spent my pocket money in. I don't know if any of my schoolmates who used to buy their 45 and LPs in there would like to email me? It would be nice to relive the good old days of Small Wonder Records. Thank you Small Wonder for making my school days in George Mitchell, Leyton County High Essex Road so fantastic!
(13 August 2015)

Name: Mark Stewart
Comment: Small Wonder was such a wonderful adventure for a 15-year-old kid. Having missed the initial punk explosion, I managed to get almost the entire back catalogue of Pistols, Clash, Adverts, Generation X, X-Ray Spex, Slits from Pete's returns shelves in the centre of the store. Used to go in there at first knowing he'd rip the piss out of you, but eventually you got used to it and he turned out to be a diamond. Even my Mum ventured in there to get me the first Killing Joke album for Xmas.

If I have any memories my best would be Pete coming over to me in the corner by the second-hand albums one afternoon to tell me Crass were playing at Markhouse Road Youth Centre with the Poison Girls. Great gig and eternally grateful he lowered himself to talk to me!! The other was getting my first bass from the noticeboard by the door as you came in. I stayed with it and ended up in bands of my own, one of which was called The Small Wonders as a tribute to where my musical taste stemmed from.

I was gutted when he shut up and never set foot inside Ugly Child. It would have been almost as disappointing as Small Wonder closing.
(5 October 2015)

Name: Paul Fogarty
Comment: I used to live in New Zealand, I used to get all my records I couldn't get from Small Wonder. Killing Joke, The Fall, Mekons... found them advertising in the back of NME which we used to get six weeks after it was released in the UK!
(17 October 2015)

Name: Steve Tilsley
Comment: Wow, such memories, is the photo of Pete now? I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent and used to buy loads of stuff mail order from Small Wonder. I thought the catalogue (still have a couple) was great and Mari used to write personal replies on them when sending singles out in the mail. So when I went to university in London in 1981 it was the first record shop I went to.

Fondly remember calling in one day to find nobody in the shop. After 3 or 4 minutes Mari came in the from the back room and was surprised to see me alone in the shop. "Where's Pete?" she asked. I shrugged; at that time I didn't know who 'Pete' was as it was only Mari who wrote back with the mail orders. Just then in walks Pete from the street and an almighty row broke out - something about 'not telling me you left the shop' and 'how was I suppoed to know you hadn't locked up' and 'customers walking in all alone in the bl**dy' shop'!

On another occasion, Pete and I were trying to recreate the machine gun drum machine beat of Second Layer's Courts or Wars with a plastic ruler on the counter top. What a guy. I didn't know about the picture that became the label coming from under the floorboards - brilliant.
(19 December 2015)

Name: Patrick Towning
Comment: I lived in E17 from 1977 onwards and Small Wonder was my local. Started off buying reggae and then Factory records stuff. I bought the sandpaper-sleeved Durutti Column LP and the Sordide Sentimental Joy Division single (both now long gone !) from Pete. He also got me a signed copy of the Everything's Gone Green single when New Order played in Walthamstow Town Hall. Missed them when they moved on. Now living in Cambridge and record shops popping up everywhere now. Those were the days!
(18 May 2016)

Name: Danny Knight
Comment: I loved this shop... I was a baby punk about ten. I used to go in there and randomly buy stuff; discovered Crass and Poison Girls. I remember Pete very well. The place always stunk of incense and there were always lanky punks leaning on and hanging around the counter.

One day I plucked up the courage to lean on the counter, with my new waistcoat I stole from the local charity shop (little bastard) with the Sex Pistols painted on the back. Some older punk came in and bought a copy of Sid Sings - like a little oik I chirped up, "I've got that." Pete turned around and said, "I don't care if you've got the f***ing cramps mate."

I went in there once and tried to buy Reality Asylum for a second time, because I swapped it for a Beano book. This time I had my mum with me. Pete turned around and said (because my mum was present) sorry I can't sell this to him. My mum turned around and said, "Why not?" Pete turned around and said because it's got about a thousand swear words in it (which it hasn't) so I had to go in a few days later on my own and he sold me the record. God bless him and this shop. I miss this shop so much and those times xxx
(5 June 2016)

Name Rob Palmer
Comment Lived in Leyton and used to walk to Small Wonder, to save the bus fare for more records. When you walked into the shop it was like stepping into a vinyl cave of audio wonders and Pete always saw you right if you were in peril of buying shite. Halcyon days.
(1 July 2016)

Name: Sarah Alam
Comment: Brilliant little record shop.
(2019)

Name: Tee Bee
Comment: Pretty sure the punk in the final picture is Dave Pils, who went on to roadie for Joy Division? Used to see him in the shop back then. Think he was involved in the JD gigs at Walthamstow Youth Club. I later worked for Final Solution through Colin Faver (and Kevin) who worked in Small Wonder on Saturdays. He started promoting gigs as Final Solution and was the best promoter in the UK 1979-80. Amazing bills they put together.
(2022)


Comments

Steve Pearn
27 Nov 2023 at 10:18
Just like you had people who bought everything Postcard Records or Factory Records bought out, I bought everything Small Wonder released, apart from 'Mucky Pup' (can't remember why). In my opinion Small Wonder's finest moments were 'Puppet Life' and 'Hex'.

Details

Location

162 Hoe Street E17 4QH Walthamstow / London
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