Bradley’s, Sheffield

Bradleys Record shop bag sheffield fargate

It being Record Store Day weekend again (April 21) I thought I’d take a look at another of my teenage vinyl haunts. BRADLEYS was quite a friendly shop. Well two shops. Maybe more. They also had smart paper shop bags as the design above shows. The smaller branch on Fargate (No. 59) just down from the Town Hall was good for singles. It would take the staff ages to hunt out the relevant record from the thousands in store, but as they seemed to have the prettiest assistants, you were usually happy to watch them look, occasionally being rewarded with a glimpse of Paisley patterned underwear. There may have been more storage upstairs, I certainly recall it being quite cramped. It’s not easy to remember and sadly the no doubt London property company which owns the whole block gutted it from roof to cellar a few years ago, just keeping the facade, so we can’t check. This smallish photograph of the block shows Bradleys around the late 70s I would think ) check the Girlywig shop on the far left too!).

Bradleys Record shop sheffield fargate

There was a second bigger shop at 103/105 West St called Bradleys Music (listed there in the directory for 1973), which dealt in musical instruments and had a good selection of guitars. I can’t remember going in much so perhaps they didn’t keep records.
After this the story gets a little hazy, one reason why it’s worth people trying to get stuff into print before memories fade altogether! The chain certainly expanded, and had branches all over Yorkshire by the late seventies (opening in Barnsley as late as October 1982). I have a later plastic bag from the shop which lists Rochdale, Huddersfield, Manchester and Doncaster as well. It seems to be agreed that they also opened a store on Chapel Walk in Sheffield, opposite what used to be the Methodist Bookshop. I think Bradley’s may have taken over another store in town later across from the Peace Gardens on Pinstone Street, and rebranded it. One of the Bradley’s stores was also a chart return one, but I don’t know which.
Bradleys Record shop bag sheffield fargate

There was still a Bradley’s open in Halifax on Market Street in 2008, I think this too has now gone. Hopefully we’ll be able to track down someone who worked for the shops before long.
I do recall kids at school swiping album covers from the Fargate store as they were kept quite near the door and could be smuggled out to pin on bedroom walls or the school common room.

Check out a singles bag from the shop here.

18 Responses to Bradley’s, Sheffield

  1. B Smith says:

    Hi, I worked for Bradleys for 22 years from 1964 to 1986 just as they started to dismantle the group.
    I have quite a few photo’s of shops in Sheffield as well as Rochdale. I have just one bag which somehow has escaped the rubbish bin, let me know if you would like a photo.

  2. John Curphey says:

    I worked at the Manchester Arndale store in 1985 and I remember Barry Smith (Above comment) who was the General Manager, and Linda, Margaret, Helen, Allison etc. I remember collecting the delivery every other day from MR BRADLEY himself in his Nissan.

  3. M.Lambert says:

    I remember Barry Smith. I worked at the Pinstone Street branch when Vivian Randall was there probably around late 1970s. I remember Howard Bradley coming to work at our shop a few times, good memories – he use to meditate in the toilet downstairs! The downstairs sold cassettes and 8 tracks, I think a single cost 50p then and an Album around £3 or a double album £5, I know they had other shops but not sure where, also remember some of the people I worked with. I am friends with one of them on Facebook.

    • simon robinson says:

      Thanks M. The Pinstone branch is one I remember quite well as it seemed huge compared to their original shop, but the staff were still good. Didn’t it have an upper floor as well? I’m not sure exactly when it opened or when they moved to their even bigger store near the Town Hall.

      • M.Lambert says:

        Yes it was records as you walked in the shop and downstairs was cassettes and 8 tracks I mostly worked on records but did a bit on not sure when it opened but I was 17 when I started there in 1977 also worked at the Fargate branch for a while.

    • Jayne says:

      It was Lilian Randall. Howard was at Fargate. Barry, as far as I can remember was at chapel walk, when it was closing down.

  4. Nigel Smith says:

    I worked at Bradleys from 1973-1979 great times, Fargate shop downstairs on the cassette tape & 8 track cartridges I wished I could go back to those days. Nigel

    • M.Lambert says:

      Hi Nigel if I can remember you were mad on Neil Diamond you called him the King lol. I found 1 of the people I worked with on FB.

  5. Ian Neal says:

    My dad, Ron Neal, (d. 1996) was a manager at Bradleys all through the 1970s. Originally it was a musical instrument shop on West Street. He worked there to begin with. He helped push their expansion and the shift towards selling records. I remember Barry Smith fondly. He would sometimes visit our house. I was a boy at the time, but I’ve got some vivid memories of Bradleys and my Dad’s experience there. Would love to know more though.
    I was about twelve or thirteen when my dad then went on to manage Impulse on Cambridge Street.
    With this background, music came into our home. We obtained a Hammond organ from the West St. Bradleys shop, which I learnt to play. During the Fargate years, Dad would bring records home. Incidentally, he was an excellent saxophonist.
    In relation to the Blog and sleeve design, I’m a lecturer in the History of Art and Design and get great pleasure in setting essay questions for my undergraduates on 1970s prog rock album cover designs. The students are all digital natives, so, it’s good to raise their awareness of the qualities of record sleeve design.
    This is a great Blog!

    • Barrie Smith says:

      Hi Ian, Nice to hear your doing fine, I saw Graham a few years ago and wondered what you were up to.

      • Ian says:

        Very well thanks Barrie. Besides lecturing, I’m a musician. I remember you put together an excellent tape (a c120 at that!) of Elvis tracks – which I listened to endlessly. Thanks for that as I think it helped fuel my love for music! Did you stay in music retail, or move to other pastures?
        Best regards,

  6. Mike Jackson says:

    I remember buying records from Bradley’s in 1968 to about 1971 for the ARK club and Highway 61. If I remember correctly the best days for new releases were Tuesday and Thursday? I still have a white label LP Action Packed Soul ACLP 6004/5 they had 4 copies , the idea was to “loose” two tracks and then decide on the 16 to be included in the release. The cover came about 6 weeks later. Happy Days,

    • simon robinson says:

      Are you saying this was an early way to focus group the final track listing? Fascinating. My recollection is that Thursday was shipping day for new releases so they would be in stores for the weekend, the busiest shopping day, but they did experiment with this.

  7. Mike Jackson says:

    Hi Simon, I was told that this was the idea but in effect the “white” copy had the same tracks on it as the one released BUT there were no track listings on the “white” copy which made for interesting listening and a great difficulty when trying to play a specific track at the Club and a lot of interested kids asking questions about “who was that?”
    From what I remember the manager at Bradley’s wanted us to push new releases as quickly as possible. He’d sort out 6 or 7 new releases and the criteria for me was the beat. If it sounded commercial I wouldn’t buy it e.g Marvin Gayes ” I heard it through the grapevine”. If I thought it would be danced to, I would buy it. The choice would take about 10 minutes and probably just a few bars of the song.
    I finished up with a suitcase of 45 records spanning about three years.

  8. Nathan says:

    Oh dear… I was one of the album cover pilferers…. One saturday the Bowie display caught my eye and I made off across Fargate. Probably for the Stage album, 1978. Apologies.

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