Episode 10 – Fred’s plaque

James Hall and rock legend Roger Taylor unveil the plaque that now celebrates Fred Gaisberg’s achievements in the first recording studio at 31 Maiden Lane

Fred’s back! And he’s got a plaque! The first episode of Series Two of The Sound of the Hound covers the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on the wall of Europe’s first recording studio, opened by Fred Gaisberg in Covent Garden in 1898. The unveiling of the plaque, which is part of the Westminster Council Green Plaque scheme, followed a campaign by Sound of the Hound co-presenter James Hall.

This opening episode was recorded live at the unveiling ceremony in the building at 31 Maiden Lane on 4 December 2019. We hear an introduction by Caryn Tomlinson, the chair of the EMI Archive Trust, who backed the campaign, and a speech by James before legendary drummer Roger Taylor says a few words and pulls the chord to unveil the plaque. That’s right. Rock royalty. The previous Westminster Council commemorative plaque was unveiled on the old GCHQ building by the Queen. We went one better and got a member of Queen.

The words on the plaque are simple: “In August 1898 Fred Gaisberg and The Gramophone Company opened Europe’s first disc recording studio on this site.” But the stories in the building behind it are legion, as we hope we’re showing in this podcast series. The episode continues with co-presenter Dave Holley interviewing attendees of the ceremony with his roving microphone. Dave talks to members of the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society, who kindly set up a demonstration of old gramophone machines for guests. It’s the Antiques Roadshow meets Top of the Pops, and it’s fascinating stuff. Also present is animator Jim Le Fevre, who brought along a special Fred Gaisberg edition of his Phonotrope invention, designed specifically for the day. We’re thrilled that Fred’s achievement is now publicly acknowledged for all to see. We’re glad he’s hanging around.

Our special thanks go to the following:

City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society (CLPGS) website

You will hear several voices from CLPGS including Christopher Proudfoot, Tom Stephenson and Peter Martland. The CLPGS brought along examples of gramophones from the 1890’s onwards which they displayed and demonstrated at the unveiling.

Jim Le Fevre

Jim makes amazing films. He also has invented Phonotrope, the technique of creating animation in a ‘live’ environment using the confluence of the frame rate of a live action camera and the revolutions of a constantly rotating disc, predominantly (but not exclusively) using a record player. His website has several examples of these animations. We particularly like this one he made with the Crafts Council.

Jim was kind enough to make a Phonotrope animation of Fred Gaisberg which he presented at the Plaque Unveiling and looked a little like this:

Fire & Stone pizza restaurant, Maiden Lane

Not only do they make great pizzas but they occupy 31 Maiden Lane and were kind enough to let us host the Plaque Unveiling ceremony on their premises.

An error admitted:

It was Trevor Williams – not William Barfry Owen – who insisted on making local recordings in Europe. This led to Fred Gaisberg.

More photos from the day:

The gramophone display by the CLPGS:

The new plaque in situ

This episode was edited by Andy Hetherington.

The Sound Of The Hound was brought to you by the EMI Archive Trust.

You can subscribe to the podcast on all good podcast platforms including Spotify  Apple and Acast.

We hope you enjoy listening as much as we’ve enjoyed recording them!

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