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Talisman Records was a rather 'rough and ready' second hand record shop. It was the kind of shop to sell punk, reggae and more of the 'off the wall' stuff and always smelt of josticks (or something else!) when you went in. The lady owner was nice but very quietly spoken I remember. She was always up for buying the right stuff and would rarely turn you away so business must have been quite good. The condition of the records stocked was not always fabulous but then the prices reflected that and Talisman was a good place to at least pick up some kind of copy of until you came across one in better nick. The shop had two different addresses in Tunbridge Wells during its lifetime the first of which was in one of the small shops opposite the large department store near to where the Station is. In later years the shop moved to a 'back street' location further up the road where the Theatre is situated. Business was not so good there and that is probably what caused the shop to close. Comment: Tony May

(April 11, 2015) Fiona, the owner, was utterly memorable. She was always friendly and keen to discuss your purchases - often at length & with several anecdotes thrown in as to when and where she had seen them in the (to me) purple haze of the '70's. It finally settled on Crescent Road where there are a few house clearance/antique places today. Happy memories. Mark Sparrow

Name Phil Wood Comment: Brilliant shop where, over the years 82-84, I managed to pick up all of Elvis Costello's 7 inch singles as well as countless other gems still owned and treasured. The only thing I didn't like was when you bought a record she put lighter fluid on the vinyl to clean it. Fairly sure that wasn't good for it...(May 28, 2017)

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The place where I discovered Laura Nyro (album ="Smile"). I remember Fiona very well
Name
Glynn Williams
(2019)

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I loved going into Talisman and Fiona was an excellent host, often making a cup of tea for us while looking round and listening to a lot of new and rare stuff she'd dug up. Mainly in there buying punk and new wave / new romantic stuff and it was a goldmine. I remember both locations but for no particular reason my better memories are of the Crescent Road location.

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Ian Sims
(2020)

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Yes I remember Fiona, small and slight lady quietly spoken proper hippy with the bell bottoms and the wizard sleeves, yes she used the lighter fluid on the records and was extremely knowledgable. I bought Hendrix in the west straight of the turntable as I have never heard that version of Red house before and she like to play it loud in the shop ! I was only 17 when she was up the hill there in the bottom of T wells, not far from the Sussex arms. I have never forgotten her and loved that shop and vibe. I hope you are fine and well now Fiona.
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Nef Riddim
(2020)
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Fiona was a true star and an original of the highest order! I do remember many happy times in both locations. Hope she is well these days- would love to know how she is!
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Simon Wells
(2020)

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I spent 1979-1981 buying scarce vinyl in Talisman records, ahhh Fiona where are you now? Subtle smiles from under a blonde fringe of hair. As many have said after the shops relocation and the rise of cd's those who readjusted to buying habits went on though are we now full circle with the reintro of vinyl? Anyways Fiona had a young child always with her there for a few months he or she would be 42/43 now . My memories of that time are fond and I sincerely hope Fiona is ok and still enjoying the music she shared with me those times, she'd be hmnn 68-70 now?
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Ivan Marchant
(2021)

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Apparently (and sadly), Fiona "died some years ago", according to an article in The Spectator magazine written by journalist John Sturgis (ex-of Tunbridge Wells and someone who clearly remembers her shop fondly and with obvious affection).
Sorry to be the bearer of sad news but I see that a number of posters to this site have wondered about Fiona's current whereabouts.
Name
Jonathan MacNab
(2021)

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I spent a lot of my life at the end of the seventies and the start of the eighties in Talisman (and Volunteers at the other end of town). I worked for Fiona on many afternoons and I also babysat her son Alan at weekends. She was indeed one of a kind and I loved her dearly. We had many wild parties in the shop and abused her hospitality, but she was the best. The John Sturgis article referenced above says she has died, but John himself has admitted this is hearsay and actually has no idea. Golden years ...
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Ivan Pope
(2022)

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I spoke to Fiona on the 'phone a couple of days ago, and can attest that she is still very much alive.
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Justin Hamlin
(2022)

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Just been through some of my vinyl purchased from Fiona at Talisman including Welcome to the Club by Ian Hunter with Ronson on guitar, of course. £3.80 marked on the grey record sleeve together with Fiona’s written serial number to find the record filed behind the counter. Many many happy days in the 80’s visiting her shop opposite what is now Hoopers. Remember she held back an original picture cover 7” schools out for me as she knew I was a big AC fan. Currently reading wonderful book about the late Peter Grant which reminded me Fiona said she had a tucked away LZ at Earls Court double. G would not have been impressed. Read John Sturgis article and instantly felt real sadness to hear of Fiona’s demise but hearing from Justin that she is still alive has lifted my spirits. Happy days indeed
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Mark Lyon
​(2022)

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Great hearing about Fiona shop days .she's my friend saw her this evening.
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Emily Clear
​(2022)


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Wow a blast from the past finding this entry about Talisman Records ! I went to secondary school in Tun Wells, at the Tw Technical school during the 1970s to early 80s, and when we were allowed to go out at lunchtimes, I headed straight to Talisman Records and as everyone has said, Fiona was very friendly and helpful. She knew I was a big Hawkwind fan and would sometimes put stuff aside for me for my next visit. The main thing though was I discovered a whole range of music I would never have come across otherwise. The prices were reasonable enough to take a punt. My criteria was often either a strange band name or an interesting cover. Looking at my record collection this evening, about 50 percent of the records I still have either came from her shop or I was inspired to buy more from an artist I first came across because of her shop. I have alot of German underground music from early Kraftwerk, Can, Faust, Amon Duul, Tangerine Dream, etc from Talisman, amongst other interesting stuff, for example. I have also read somewhere the sad news that she passed away sometime ago. A big hello to all you customers of Talisman !
Name
Justin Joyce
​(2022)

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Fiona was spotted near Dunorlan Park recently by a friend. She indeed lives!!!
Name
Mark Sparrow
​(2022)


Picture

Ivan Popes bike propped outside the shop c. 1982/3 - you can see me reflected in the glass



Comments

Bruce Vair-Turnbull
06 Jun 2023 at 09:55
I lived round the corner from Talisman Records when it was situated opposite Weeks department store (1979-80). I bought some Buzzcocks bootlegs from her but didn’t know much of her stock. I used to see her often in the shop after dark. Glad to hear she’s still with us. Fond memories.
Steve Young
19 Aug 2023 at 02:45
I remember Fiona really well and spent every Saturday in her shop and would stay there for hours listening to loads of music and Fiona used to make a mean cuppa tea . Ivan Pope that name is a blast from the past and used to knock around with you . We used to go in Weekes opposite Talisman for coffee and Volunteers record shop with The Inset cafe . Those were the days . I bought a 10” copy of Europe Endless by Kraftwerk and every time I hear it it reminds me of Talisman records
Dave Harwood
05 Dec 2023 at 02:42
I found this advert in the 'Kent & Sussex Courer' dated 6th October 1978:
“OPEN NOW! TALISMAN RECORDS, 8 Grove Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells. YOUR FIRST SECONDHAND ALBUM SHOP. WE PAY MORE FOR YOUR ALBUMS! Also DISCOUNT ON ALL NEW STOCK CARRIED. Tel: Tunbridge Wells 37505 in Shop hours - After hours: Crowborough 4569.”
… and this advert in the 'Sevenoaks Focus' dated 24th November 1988:
“RECORDS, TAPES, CDs. For all at TALISMAN RECORDS, THE SPECIALIST SHOP, 36 Crescent Road, Tunbridge Wells. Call or ring (0892) 37815.”

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