The story of Booths Music goes all the way back to 1832. Only 17 years after the battle of Waterloo and 29 years before the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, this was the time of the turbulent French Revolution. Meanwhile at Hotel Street, Bolton, James and Thomas Booth were setting up shop. The trading years in the 1800s saw many notable dates in the musical world including: the completion of Chopin’s Nocturnes Op. 9; Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March in 1842; Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube in 1866 and Die Walküre by Richard Wagner in 1870.
The firm relocated to number 11 Churchgate in 1876. The shop front is portrayed here with our earliest photo, dated 1890.
The first half of the 20th century saw many famous works by some legendary composers and musicians, including Edward Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory (1902), George Gershwin’sRhapsody in Blue (1924) and Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again later in 1939. Needless to say that the war years brought tough times to all; the knock-on effect on trade was huge with the Booths staff at the time relying heavily on the sales of second hand goods and non musical gifts such as toys.
Booths moved a few doors down to its current location at number 17 Churchgate in 1962, where it has undergone many changes to keep up with musical trends. Interestingly, the building that Booths now occupies was once the workplace of Sir Richard Arkwright (inventor of the water frame for cotton spinning), who from 1760 to 1768 ran a shop on this site as a barber and peruke maker.
The 60s brought about huge changes in the music industry thanks to the emergence of the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, which naturally had their effect of retailers such as Booths. Suddenly rock and pop were in, and guitars, drums and of course, sheet music were sold in abundance.
Perhaps the biggest changes to Booths, however, have occurred in the past 10 years. The growth of the internet with its ever-growing buying and download options sadly means the days of seeing music shops full to the brim with browsable popular sheet music are in the past. Whilst some doors close, however, many have opened thanks to the many opportunities the Internet grants to discover new music.
In the mid 2000s, we at Booths were delighted to launch our teaching studios, which are now the home for music lessons in bolton for hundreds of pupils on a weekly basis. Tuition has become a focal point of the establishment, with around 30 on-site teachers covering everything from guitar tuition to brass, woodwind and folk. Our outbound tuition service is a new, exciting string to our bow. We look forward to building successful relationships with peripatetic teachers and local organisations over the coming years.