MILESAGO - Industry - Record Labels


W&G Records was the recording and record pressing division of Melbourne printing and engineering firm White & Gillespie (Melb) Pty. Ltd. The company was founded in 1910 when A.E. White and J.D. Gillespie formed a partnership, purchased equipment and began business manufacturing stereotype and electrotype duplicate printing plates. A Sydney division was opened in 1928. Originally sited in Patrick Street, Melbourne the business outgrew its premises twice before moving to new purpose-built premises at 185 A'beckett Street Melbourne in 1938.

The same year White & Gillespie set up a wholly owned subsidiary, W&G Record Processing Co. and expanded its operations into the manufacture of radio transcription discs, .

At the start of World War II in 1939 White& Gillespie became involved in the War effort and they turned over their precision instrument works to the manufacture of navigational aids and range finding devices for guns. 250,000 instruments bearing the W&G trade mark were made during this time and used worldwide by allied forces, although printing plate manufacture continued as the core activity during this period.

At the end of the war, W&G expanded into drawing instruments. This range including Drafting Machine Scales, Hand Scales, Slide Rules, and other specially-made instruments, were produced alongside the transcription records still being produced for radio stations.

White & Gillespie continued to develop their recording division during the 1950s. According to the W&G History page they were the first company in Australia to manufacture the new micro-groove records, initially on a custom pressing basis. If correct, this would place it sometime before March 1953, when Festival began pressing microgroove records. As other record companies began their own microgroove production (EMI and ARC in Sydney both began pressing microgroove records shortly after Festival) W&G began to develop their own catalogue to maintain pressing volume.

It was at this time that the W&G label was established. The new label was soon producing both local and imported recordings for the Australian and New Zealand markets. W&G had its own recording studios, pressing plant and a company-owned distribution outlet in each State.

The young Ron Tudor joined W&G as a sales representative just as the new division was starting up, and over the next ten years he worked his way up through promotion, A&R and production. Ron first recorded such people as Diana Trask, Ernie Sigley and The Seekers, whom he was instrumental in getting signed to W&G for their first recordings. He left W&G in 1966 and after another two years at Astor, Ron set up his own production company in 1968, and founded his own successful label, Fable Records in 1969.

W&G signed a wide range of local artists, including several from the Melbourne trad jazz and folk scenes -- The Red Onions Jazz Band, which featured several future members of The Loved Ones, and Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers, which consecutively featured Judith Durham and then Margret RoadKnight as lead singers. W&G subsequently signed the newly formed Seekers and released their first LP, just prior to the group's move to the UK. Other notable signings included future country star Diana Trask (1958) and Johnny Chester (1961)

In 1977, due to the introduction of the cassette and subsequent demise of the LP market, the record and instrument plants were sold along with the instrument process.