Sounds of the sixties are still coming out of a 21st century workshop in Banburyshire as Steepletone enjoys a huge revival
Sounds from the iconic Steepletone sound systems of the 1960s are enjoying a revival as the family owned business sees sales for 'vintage' record players and radios soar.
This heritage business was set up in the late '60s by Tony Tyler in a former cinema in Middle Barton selling radios and car radios. Fully established as Steepletone in 1972, the brand expanded into record players, becoming one of the last manufacturers of disc turntables in the UK.
The brand has been passed down through the family and is now run by Mr Tyler's son Mark and grandson Kristian. A true family business, mother Kendal also works for Steepletone which is now based in Croughton and employs eight staff.
With the resurgence in the popularity of vinyl, Steepletone has seen huge success and grown in spite of the pandemic. In what could have been their most challenging year, they have grown sales by 151 per cent. Sales through the online marketplace notonthenighstreet alone reached the half a million pound mark. Most sales are conducted online but there are some local stockists including one in Bicester.
Steepletone now combines old and new and produces a variety of unique electronic products from audio products such as record players, music centres, radios and retro jukeboxes to gifts, home and lighting, along with products such as personalised record storage cases, bluetooth speakers and LED neon bulbs.
Mr Tyler said: "Over the last five years sales of vinyl players and turntables have been crazy. We have seen so many people buying record players and getting their old vinyl collections out again and many of the younger generation are starting vinyl collections.
"The reason we believe vinyl has become so popular again is because it gives you an experience, from the feel of the physical vinyl, to placing it onto the record player, moving the arm over and hearing the slight crackle as the stylus hits the grooves,
"it’s something you don’t get from listening to any other media of music. 2020 saw the sale of vinyl records overtake CD sales for the first time since the 1980s and this is down to popular bands today releasing their albums not only on digital download and CD but with vinyl options. You can get almost any new album or single on vinyl format now.
"For us this has been a really exciting time as we have been able to take inspiration for creating new record players from some of the look and style of our original players," he said.
"The combination of nearly 50 years of experience in the electronics industry, paired with some great looking products, has seen the business thrive over the last few years.
"Like many others, we faced a few hurdles in the last year furloughing our staff and changing our entire distribution process due to lockdown. But the advantages of being a family business allowed us to safely continue trading throughout lockdown running as a small family team.
"We have been extremely busy. The other is dealing with the loss of our founder, my grandfather Tony Tyler, who sadly passed away in January this year. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend to so many and will be missed dearly. But his memory will live on though Steepletone.”