Boosey & Hawkes

Boosey & Hawkes was Britain's largest maker of musical instruments. The company helped to shape the development of the brass band and the sound of British orchestras through instrument making and publishing. During the 1960s, the firm employed over 700 people at its Sonorous Works in Edgware, North London and produced over 1,000 instruments a week. These instruments were exported throughout the world. The closure of the Edgware factory in 2001 and the buyout of Besson (formerly Boosey & Hawkes) in 2006 by the French instrument maker Buffet Crampon marked the end of large-scale instrument manufacture in Britain. The publishing branch of Boosey & Hawkes continues to flourish.

Boosey & Hawkes was established by the 1930 merger of Boosey & Co. and Hawkes & Son. Both of these firms were active as music publishers in the 1800s and this continued to be a prominent part of their business. Boosey & Hawkes absorbed almost all other London based manufacturers of wind instruments during the twentieth century, including Besson and Rudall Carte. Boosey & Hawkes produced instruments under a range of different names during the mid twentieth century, including Lafleur, Ajax and B. B. I. C (British Band Instrument Company).

Boosey & Hawkes made an immense range of instruments at the height of its power during the 1950s -- 1970s. This included the full range of brass band instruments and brass, woodwind and percussion for bands and orchestras. Generations of students learned to play on Boosey & Hawkes instruments. Boosey & Hawkes supplied the military with band instruments, bugles, bagpipes, and drum major's maces, sashes and cords. Boosey & Hawkes also made Hammond organs, Wheatstone concertinas and Dolmetsch recorders at Edgware. String instruments and accordions were imported from Eastern Europe and sold by Boosey & Hawkes. The firm also sold a range of guitars, mandolins and ukuleles and banjos. During World War II, the Edgware factory made components for Lancaster and Spitfire aircraft.

By the close of the twentieth century, instrument making at Boosey & Hawkes had greatly decreased. Inexpensive mass production in Asia and Eastern Europe changed the musical instrument market and Boosey & Hawkes could no longer profitably produce instruments.

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