The History of Calrec: part 2
Hebden Bridge History Society meeting report.
Speaker: Stephen Jagger
Thursday, 19 November 2015
An unusually modern story was told to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society by Stephen Jagger, until 2009 managing director of local audio pioneers Calrec. We are used to celebrating the old textile industries which prospered in Hebden Bridge, but this account of the later history of Calrec shows how the company successfully met the uncertain and challenging times of the late twentieth century.
Stephen Jagger gave a real insight into the way the company learnt from its mistakes, such as takeovers and technological challenges, to establish a leading brand in producing the highly sophisticated audio mixing desks required by modern outside broadcasting.
Calrec's speciality was equipping the outside broadcasting trucks that are essential to successful sports reporting. Although the company established contracts with big broadcasters across the world, the fast moving pace of the industry meant that innovation was crucial to survival, and in the nineties, the holy grail was a reliable digital mixing system which could handle the subtleties of sports and music broadcasting.
An important factor in their success was to establish an entirely new, flexible management system, giving the greatest possible autonomy to their skilful engineers. Luck, skill and investment paid off and the first Calrec digitally equipped OB truck was used in the USA in 2001, where its first test was a live outside broadcast with the US president.
The need for a continuous cycle of investment in research and development contributed to the decision to sell the company at a time when its reputation and products were at their peak. The business still thrives, happily housed in the Nutclough Mill which nineteenth century innovators built and an equally proud part of the history of Hebden Bridge.
The next meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society, to be held at the Methodist Church at 7.30 on Wednesday 25th November, will hear John Shackleton talk about Widdop and the Shackletons. All welcome.
Details on the society website: www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk
With thanks to Sheila Graham for this report
Previously, on the HebWeb
What's in a Name: with speakers Keith Stansfield and Barbara Atack. An insight into local dialects and surnames of the Calder Valley. (9 Nov 2015)
The Lost Kingdom of Elmet (1 Nov 2015)
When Oxford University Came to Hebden Bridge (29 Oct 2015)
The dam that isn't and the great floating plug of the Colden (1 April 2015)
Gruelling Experiences - in the workhouse (16 March 2015)
Pre-History on our hill tops (9 March 2015)
Growing up in Sowerby (16 February 2015)
Patterns in the Landscape: the evolution of settlement and enclosure in the Upper Calder Valley (5 February 2015)
Wakefield Court Rolls for Family History: Sylvia Thomas (18 Jan 2015)
Happy Birthday Stoodley Pike: by Nick Wilding (16 Dec 2014)
Wills, Inventories and Economic Activity in the Parish of Halifax at the end of the 17th Century: Alan Petford (30 Nov 2014)
Local History Society Archive explored - Following the 65th AGM, members of Hebden Bridge Local History Society were treated to a sample of some of the treasures to be found in the Society's archive. (19 Nov 2014)
Views from two communities on the outbreak of war in 1914 - Mike Crawford, Wolfgang Hombach and Nick Wilding (27 Oct 2014)
The Listed Buildings of the Hebden Bridge area with Peter Thornborrow. (14 Oct 2014)
Valley of a Hundred Chapels by Amy Binns (29 Sept 2014)
History Group Study Day report: Power and Potability (11 Sept 2014)
Whose land is it anyway? How parliamentary enclosure shaped the landscape of the Calder Valley: speaker, Sheila Graham. Read more (6 April 2014)
Calder Valley Buildings of the Seventeenth Century: the craftsmen and their patrons Read more (27 Jan)See Small Ads (12 March)
Some thoughts on historic buildings and their repairs by Alan Gardner
More history reports in the HebWeb History Section