Wednesday, 11 June 2014

EMI Dumped The Last Vinyl Pressing Plant In NZ?

EMI Dumped The Last Vinyl Pressing Plant In Wellington Harbour.


The last vinyl pressing plant in New Zealand closed down in 1987, and, so the story goes, the plant's owners EMI dumped it in Wellington Harbour.

I've heard this story dozens of times from musicians and music fans in recent years, and no one knows the origin of this tale. It's one of those romantic notions that sound like you want it to be true - especially if you're a vinyl fanatic: "Evil corporation destroys local vinyl outlet". But is there any truth in it?

There are several variations on this story - one is that the pressing plant was dumped in Wellington Harbour by a radio station as part of some competition. Another is that EMI dumped it in the harbour to drive up CD sales. Why would a business dump perfectly good equipment in the sea when it was still working and saleable? What really happened?

Frank Douglas worked at EMI for 34 years running their recording studios. He told me that EMI NZ had twelve vinyl presses back in 1987. When the plant closed, the eight newer ones were packed into containers and shipped back to Australia - he saw them being packed - and the older four were stripped for parts. What was left was sold for scrap or auctioned off. EMI Australia wanted a new cassette duplicating setup, and EMI NZ had the best in the world at that time, so that was also shipped to Australia.

Music historian Andrew Miller suggests the most likely reason for the legend: "The Pye pressing plant equipment was dumped in the Manukau Harbour in the mid-'70s after Pye ceased record operations. A former employee who helped with the operation told me this."

Written by Peter McLennan

Read more about this story here, with a massive thanks to Audioculture.
Also check Peter's outstanding blog, DubDotDash.
And listen to him on your radio with 'Ring The Alarm', Saturdays 10am, Base 107.3FM

* this excerpt taken from Issue #4 os the Soultearoa Shakedown fanzine. Check the whole thing out here.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I'd always heard that, but recently got told the 1987 presses got sold off to Australia... which makes more sense as vinyl was still getting pressed in decent numbers internationally till 1989/1990...
    Maybe someone wants to organize a dive trip this summer though?