Photo Ref: DB031 Courtesy of britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
Photo Ref: DB060 Courtesy of Freddy Bailey
Norman Ditchburn’s full name is Geoffrey Norman Ditchburn, he was born in 1908, his inception into business began in 1924, at the young age of 17 he started his training as a salesman with Rowe Brothers and Co Ltd in Liverpool, one of the largest builders and plumbers merchants in the UK, in a comparatively short space of time Norman rose to sales manager and further rapid promotions followed, subsequently he became one of four managing directors at Rowe Bros. During the second world war Rowe Bros. were engaged in manufacturing munitions for the war effort, it was during this time that Norman Ditchburn became director of 10 subsidiary companies belonging to Rowe Bros. and also chairman of three of them.After the war in 1947 he decided to leave Rowe Bros. He left with a handsome pay-off of approximately £10,000 (equivalent to £380,000 in today’s money) with this money burning a hole in Normans pocket he decided to set up his own business, unfortunately due to a covenant with his pay off, he was not allowed ( for at least 3 years ) to manufacture similar products that were currently being manufactured by Rowe Bros. So Norman had to look into other business ventures, and that is when he met Jack Hylton and the …..
BRITISH JUKE BOX
Jack Hylton was a serial entrepreneur, and was constantly looking at other money making ventures, it was at this time that he was looking to move on to other great things, the Jukebox business had not been as rewarding as he had expected, probably due to the fact that a lot of the 300 Jukeboxes he manufactured at Hawtin’s had ended up in U.S. air bases in Germany and the rest of Europe, this made it difficult to manage, and maintain them, so he was looking for a buyer for his Jukebox manufacturing business, at the time Frank Hawtin was also looking at other grander investments away from his amusement machine business so he was also not interested in taking on the Hylton Jukebox, Frank Hawtin auctioned off the contents of “Hawtin’s Novelty Company” on December 16th 1947.Norman Ditchburn, being a shrewd businessman saw plenty of opportunity, so in 1947 Norman Ditchburn bought the rights to manufacture the Music Maker Jukebox and then went on to buy “Music Maker Ltd” from Jack Hylton’s investment group. He later moved production to Dock Road in Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire. Norman had noticed a great money making opportunity, rather than sell the Jukeboxes to air-force bases as Jack Hylton had done, Norman saw a new market by putting the Juke Boxes in Clubs, Pubs, and cafés around the UK, He would retain ownership of the boxes but take a cut of the takings, each week he would send in a collector to count the takings on each box, Ditchburn would keep the first £3 to £5 to cover machine rental and then any money after that would be split 50/50 with Ditchburn and the bar/café owner, it was a win - win situation for both parties, the bar owner did not have to layout £237.00 to buy a brand new Jukebox, and Ditchburn would take more than enough money in one year to cover the cost of building a new machine and provide a healthy profit as well.During this time after the war, imports into the UK of jukeboxes and other equipment was restricted due to the rebuilding of the British economy, Norman Ditchburn saw the opportunity to start his business using the connections with the US military that Jack Hylton had created, and it was through them that he managed to sneak in the Wurlitzer Simplex Mechanisms that were used in the Music Maker Mk2 Jukeboxes. The UK Juke-Box revolution had begun.Below is a great article from the 1959 Daily Herald featuring Mr Juke-Box