SUPPORT OUR SHOPS: Second coming for Alan’s vinyl revival

DISC WORLD: Alan Barnsdale of Uptown Vinyl Records at Spalding Lifestyle Centre, Pinchbeck.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG040417-108TW.
DISC WORLD: Alan Barnsdale of Uptown Vinyl Records at Spalding Lifestyle Centre, Pinchbeck. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG040417-108TW.
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Uptown Vinyl Records at Spalding Lifestyle Centre, Pinchbeck

The art of “crate digging” has turned a niche shop in Pinchbeck into the must-see place for music collectors, treasure seekers and nostalgia hunters alike.

Uptown Vinyl Records, inside Spalding Lifestyle Centre next to Johnson Community Hospital, is nothing short of a disc spinners’ dream with at least 70,000 vinyl records for visitors to browse through at their leisure.

Owner Alan Barnsdale considers the store’s opening two years ago, about 16 years after the closure of his Uptown Records store in Victoria Street, Spalding, as a case of “striking while the iron is hot”.

Alan said: “We couldn’t have timed it better because, suddenly, the whole world is buying a record player and wanting vinyl.

“Each week, I bring in more and more of my record collection but I also welcome people coming in to sell their records, too.

We couldn’t have timed it better because, suddenly, the whole world is buying a record player and wanting vinyl

Alan Barnsdale, Uptown Vinyl Records

“That’s important because we’re constantly bringing new stock in and what we’re trying to create is an atmosphere where we’re not seen as a high street record shop.

“We want people to come crate digging, finding bargains like you would have in an old record shop, and I can’t believe how well it’s working.”

According to figures from the British Phonographic Industry, the trade body representing the UK’s recorded music industry, more than 3.2 million vinyl LPs (long play records) were sold in the UK last year.

Whilst it represents just 2.6 per cent of the total UK recorded music market, vinyl sales jumped 53 per cent compared to 2015 – the highest annual sales total for 25 years.

Alan said: “I retired from working as a director of an agricultural supply company when I was 54.

“I wanted to live the dream after having my eyes opened to the fact that life should be more than the stress of a day-to-day working regime.

“I was an original hoarder of records and so, after retiring, I started looking for premises where I could sort my collection out and start selling it.

“I called in to see Peter Vickers at Spalding Lifestyle Centre because I knew he rented space to people.

“When I first approached him, he looked at me strangely and asked ‘who buys second-hand records?’”

Peter, who has run the centre since 2002, said: “I knew that vinyl records were an in-thing and because I knew Alan anyway from when he had his shop in Spalding, I gradually noticed the potential of the store.

“But it’s now on a crest of a wave and there are so many people bringing stuff in which does us a lot of good as well because it’s attracting a different clientele to what we’ve had in the past.

“Before Alan came, our restaurant was always the busiest part of the centre.

“But now, Alan’s customers come to other parts of the centre as well, including the restaurant where they can have tea, coffee and a meal.

“Things have gone very well and I’m very happy to have Alan here because he is so enthusiastic, we get on so well and his store and our restaurant complement each other.”

The number of loyal supporters of the store are plentiful, including rock guitarist Ray Fenwick, Spalding soul DJ Eggy Molen, Pinchbeck-based tenor Jeff “Pavanotti” Woods and acclaimed pop drummer Gilson Lavis.

Jeff said: “It’s very important to him that the store is in Pinchbeck and the uniqueness of it is that people come from all over the country to spend a day looking through the records.

“It just shows you the demand for vinyl and that people still want music they can feel, despite the distractions of streaming and downloading.”

Gilson, drummer with Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Sir Tom Jones and Eric Clapton, said: “This is a phenomenal place and it’s remarkable how people just come and look through Alan’s record collection.”

Uptown Vinyl Records is now a magnet for record collectors from across the UK, France, Holland and even Japan.

The Pinchbeck store, just like the influential 1970s and 80s BBC TV music programme “The Old Grey Whistle Test”, has become the place to be for people serious about music.

Jamie Jones, a customer from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, said: “I’ve never left the old record shop scene, I’ve never bought a CD and if I have to download music tracks, I ask someone else to do it for me.”

Alan said: “There aren’t many people who can say that they come in to work early and whistling, but I can.”