Boosey & Hawkes


The company of Boosey & Hawkes has its roots in a number of firms, all producing high quality instruments, whose records have survived to a greater or lesser extent and now constitute the Boosey & Hawkes Archive.
Thomas Boosey established a bookshop in London in 1792. In 1816, Thomas Boosey Jr. branched out into music publishing. Production of wind instruments began in 1851, and production of flutes began in 1856, the result of collaboration between Boosey & Sons and the flute player and inventor Robert Sydney Pratten. Boosey & Sons also co operated with bandmaster Carl Boosé in the area of instrument sales.

Already dealers in band and orchestral wind and percussion instruments with a worldwide market, Boosey & Co purchased from Henry Distin in 1868 the sizeable firm of Distin & Co, whose production included a wide range of brasswinds. In 1874 new headquarters and saleroom premises in Regent Street were opened and sales of instruments were concentrated at the new address. In 1876 Boosey & Co opened a new factory at Frederick Mews, Stanhope Place, and Marble Arch to replace the former Distin & Co factory at Great Newport Street, Cranbourn Street, and Covent Garden.
In 1930 Boosey & Co merged with one of their main competitors, Hawkes & Son, to form Boosey & Hawkes. Hawkes & Son had in 1924 5 built the factory at Deansbrook Road, Edgware which was until 2001 the main plant of Boosey & Hawkes. Boosey & Hawkes moved the former Boosey production from Frederick Mews to Edgware in 1931 2.

Boosey & Hawkes bought the leading British firm of flute makers, Rudall Carte, during World War II. Before the War they had also produced brass instruments and reed woodwinds. The production of Rudall Carte woodwinds was continued as a separate operation until the 1980s.
Prior to 1895, the Besson family operated a substantial wind instrument making firm (F. Besson) with factories in Paris and London (their London factory at 100 Euston Road). In 1895 the London operation was sold to become the firm of Besson & Co. In 1933 Besson & Co took out a long lease on the former Boosey factory in Stanhope Place and closed the Euston Road factory. In 1948 production was moved to the Boosey & Hawkes plant in Edgware, and over the following six years the product range of the two companies was consolidated, although Besson & Co was not completely absorbed until 1 July 1968. The Paris Besson company was also acquired by Boosey & Hawkes in or by the 1970s.

Brief biography

Worldwide firm of instrument makers with origin in 1816.

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Collection Information

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