Chipping Norton Studios Trident  Chipping Chipping Norton   Trident Trident
Trident TSM chipping Norton

 

             28/30 New Street, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire  

                            Opened Oct. 1972, closed  October 1999.

 If you visit Chipping Norton village in Oxfordshire in search of the old studio, one things stands out about its location that at first seems odd. For such a small village,  it must have been strange to suddenly have this major studio complex open on the main road, right in its heart, for all to see. And yet talking to the locals about days gone by you get the idea of an integration and acceptance, as if the studio was just another friendly local pub or shop that was part and parcel of the village life. You can sense a pride but also a bemusment at what all the fuss was about, as if most rural villages had a major studio, with the coming and going of many of the biggest names in pop and rock, as part of its community.

 While normal daily life went on by in the village , themes from a wider field were being immortalized on tape. Gerry Rafferty sang about Baker Street,  The Proclaimers walked 500 miles and Thom Yorke told us that he was a 'Creep', all from within the confines of the studio walls.

 History 

   Taking its name from its village location, Chipping Norton Studios was set up in an old school house (circa 1853) by brothers Mike and Richard Vernon and Dave Grinsted as the in-house studio for the Blue Horizon record label. Mike and Dave Grinstead where originally  in-house producer/ engineers for Decca and the brothers owned a blues specialist record shop in Camden. In 1968 the Blue Horizon label had a massive hit with Mike Vernon producing Fleetwood Macs timeless instrumental  'Albatross'. The proceeds from this would be used to build their own recording studio.

 

 

   The original idea was to open a studio in London, at first in the backrooms of the shop but space was limited. They looked elsewhere in London but the cost of premises was prohibitive so they began looking to a wider field. Having traveled to Wales to view a potential location, the return journey took them through the Cotswolds and the small and picturesque market town of Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire.  One of the main roads through the village passes the old school house, a grade 2 listed building which had  closed in 1966 and was now empty and up for sale. With its thick stone walls, spacious rooms and high ceilings, the  premises where ideal. It was purchased at a reasonable cost.

The studio was constructed on the ground floor with the old school hall partitioned up to become the playing area and control room. There was also space to build a lounge,  large kitchen, office,showers and six bedrooms.

Trident.

Dave Grinstead was friends with producer and engineer Roy Thomas Baker who had been talking about the new console being built at  Trident Studios, London by in house engineers Malcom Toft and Barry Sheffield .They approached Malcom Toft from Trident  to see if he would build a similar console for them. Toft had already been approached by musician and producer John Congos with a similar request, so with two potential orders, Trident Audio Developments was set up as a console manufacturing firm.

The desk delivered to Chipping Norton was the second Trident B series to be produced, an 18 into 8 feeding an MCI 16 track tape machine .

 

The first session was in 1972 for Dutch  band 'The Livin Blues' who recorded their album 'Rocking the Tweed Mill' . The Vernon brothers and Dave Grinstead were also joined that same year by engineer Barry Hammond to complete the staffing line up.

1975 -- saw the upgrade to 24 track with an MCI  JH-100 tape machine and  the introduction of a Trident 'A' range desk (which cost £35,000 at the time). It also saw the studio having a massive no.1 hit with the Bay City Rollers song, 'Bye Bye Baby.' Maybe not quite what the blues purist Vernon brothers had anticipated when starting the studio but  great for business. Not sure what the locals would have made of the hoards of screaming girls gathered outside when word got out.

 

In 1980 the Trident A was put up for sale and replaced by a Trident TSM  32:24. The Trident A  eventually ended up at Waterfront Studios in New Jersey.

chipping Norton studios

 

In the first half of the 80s the studio entered what could be called its New Romantic phase, recording albums and singles for Duran Duran, Talk Talk , Dexy's Midnight Runners and had another number one hit with Kajagoogoo and 'Too Shy'. As the studios grew, a series of cottages next door were added as accommodation. Between November 1985 and March 1986 the studio closed for a complete refurbishment which saw the enlargement of the control room and a live room added.

In 1993 they installed a Trident 90 series.

The End

Sadly times change and the nineties was a tough era for all major studios, as recording budgets tightened and home programming became fashionable for many pop acts.

On October 31 1999, Tony Iommi completed the last session  before its closure and the sad end of a great and very successful studio. Planning consent was given for it to be converted into homes but now the major part of the building is a dental practice.

 

Recordings Made at Chipping Norton

 

Special thanks to Dave Nobbs at the Chipping Norton Museum for his help with this page.  http://www.chippingnorton.net/Visitors/museum.htm

Phil Burns  2011.

chipping norton studios

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