Way Ahead, HMV and Virgin: Photos of Derby’s Lost Record Shops

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It’s hard to believe now, but in bygone pre-digital times, Derby really had a fantastic array of record stores. From wonderful little independent outlets such as Oasis Records in The Strand Arcade and BPM in The Strand, to big boys such as HMV, Our Price and Virgin.

HMV had its store near The Spot before moving to the corner of Albion Street and East Street, until it closed in 2014 and moved to its current home in Derbion. The former incarnation of the beloved brand has enjoyed many iconic releases over the years, perhaps the most recent being the release of Oasis’ third album Be Here Now in the summer of 1997.

Many of us eagerly lined up early to pack our copy, with the store even offering croissants and other assorted pastries to satisfy hungry fans. Of course, we now know that the fervor wasn’t exactly warranted, as it wasn’t long before Be Here Now was savagely criticized as being bloated, overdone, and not a patch on Oasis’ previous work. But for those fans lining up in 1997, that meant everything. Whether the album was good or bad didn’t really matter.

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This kind of mass idolization at a huge LP launch was once very common, and it’s something our town’s record stores would appreciate. Many of us will remember 1987’s world-conquering Joshua Tree album, and maybe some of you will remember queuing to buy tickets for the Way Ahead backing tour. Records in Derby’s main centre, demolished to make way for Westfield Shopping Centre, now Derbion.

Indeed, one of our photos below shows fans eager to take them. Were you among them? The store was run by Tom Rose, who had another in The Strand Arcade near Sadler Gate. Both closed in the 90s, but not before one reopened as Reveal Records in St Peter’s Street, which sadly closed in 2007.

Many will also remember the Virgin Megastore in Albion Street, which closed in 2004 with the loss of around 25 jobs. At the time, a Virgin spokesperson said the closure was part of an ‘ongoing review’ of smaller stores, but an employee at the Derby branch said it was because it was losing business for the benefit of HMV.

Virgin Megastores then became Zavvi but just over a year later also went bankrupt with the loss of over 1,500 jobs nationwide. Sad times.

A true survivor of Derby’s music store scene has to be BPM Records in Sadler Gate, which opened its doors over 30 years ago and is still growing. After a short break and some location changes, BPM is now housed over two floors in a distinctive Tudor building in the Old Blacksmiths Yard. The boutique began operations in 1987, run by Dave Hill and his former business partner Lisa Woolley.

The couple had worked in music sales since the 1970s and ran numerous stores, including HMV and RECords, also in Sadler Gate. After a brief hiatus, BPM re-opened in 2010 and is now, in our opinion, the only remaining specialty record store in town. Our town is littered with long-gone but very much missed record stores, including Our Price at the Eagle Center (which closed in 2004) and MVC, which went into administration in 2005. There was also a Richards Records in The Spot and Siren Records in Porte Sadler.

How many other record stores do you remember? Let us know which ones you miss the most and why in the comments section below. There was also one in Duckworth Square but we don’t remember what it was called. Let us know in the comments if you remember!

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