Hawtin’s sells Music Maker to Norman Ditchburn
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 1925, 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 Frank and Percy Hawtin and the …..
Jack Hylton was a serial entrepreneur, and was constantly looking at other money making ventures, my research has discovered that the Jukebox business had not been as rewarding as Hylton had expected, The original 1946 press release stated that Hylton had produced over 300 jukeboxes. this now seems unlikely,and was just publicity spin, in reality it was around 25 to 30 Jukeboxes, and it seems very few of these were actually sold. In 1946 Hylton and Hawtin’s parted company, Hylton’s name was removed from the Jukebox and sales brochures. and Hawtin’s were left with Jukeboxes that they could not sell, at the time Frank Hawtin was also looking at other grander investments away from his amusement machine business so he decided to sell off the Amusement machine and Jukebox side of the business. Frank Hawtin auctioned off the contents of “Hawtin’s Novelty Company” on December 16th 1947. and sold the rights to manufacture the music maker Jukebox to Geoffrey Ditchburn. Geoffrey Norman Ditchburn , being a shrewd businessman saw plenty of opportunity in the Jukebox business , so in 1947 Geoffrey Ditchburn bought the rights to manufacture the Music Maker Jukebox from Hawtin’s, Ditchburn set up business in the Hawtin’s Factory on Preston New Road. Below shows both companies entries in the 1948 Preston area telephone directory. it proves that Hawtin’s and Ditchburn shared the same address and telephone number. Ditchburn 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 tried to do and failed, 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/café 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 supplying records, and also provide a healthy profit as well. During this time after the war, imports into the UK of jukeboxes and other non essential equipment were still restricted by the British government due to the rebuilding of the British economy, Norman Ditchburn saw the opportunity and manufactured all the components required to make the Mk2 Music Maker Jukebox here in the UK Below is a great article from the 1959 Daily Herald featuring Mr Juke-Box Geoffrey Norman Ditchburn.