Westrex Co. Ltd, contractors for Vox - makers of AC80/100 chassis from early 1964 to the second quarter of 1965



Westrex was a subsidiary of Western Electric, an American company specialising in telecommunications, sound recording equipment for films, amplification systems for cinemas, and disk cutting (vinyl LPs). The UK factory was set up in 1929 at 152 Coles Green Road, Dollis Hill (London NW2), within easy reach of the new North Circular Road. The head office was in Liberty House, Regent Street.

Above, the Westrex factory, 152 Coles Green Road, photographed in 1930. Picture from the britainfromabove website.


Click on the first thumbnail for the site on Google Maps. Pictures 1 and 2 are from Google Street. A view along Coles Green Rd from no. 152; and the site as it is today (no. 152 is on the right). The third picture is of Liberty House.


Although little information is readily available on what Westrex produced during the second world war, telecommunications and aviation systems seems most likely - the company was certainly a registered supplier of civil and military aviation equipment by the late 1950s. And it was during the 50s and indeed 60s that Westrex flourished, branching out in all directions: larger and larger cinema amplification units; speakers (frames, drivers and coils); domestic hi-fi, sometimes made for other companies, sometimes released under its own name; hospital equipment; and later, teleprinters and so on.

Below, cinema and hifi equipment manufactured by Westrex UK in the 50s and early 60s: a number of the images were original posted on the audioheritage.org site.

For some truly gargantuan American and Japanese-made Western Electric kit, click here.




Vox

As Jim Elyea has indicated, Vox (JMI) chose Westrex to make chassis for several lines of amplifier: the AC6, AC10, AC15, AC30, AC80/100 (ie. AC100 Mark 1) and T60. Although no firm dates are available for the selecting of Westrex, the first half of 1961 seems likely - AC6s went on sale in December of that year.

Chassis, once finished, were presumably then driven by lorry down to the Vox factory in Dartford (115-119 Dartford Road) at regular intervals to be given boxes, speakers and serial plates.

One of the easiest ways of distinguishing a Westrex-made amp is by the red dye painted on the solder joints to indicate that they had been inspected. In the case of AC30s, the voicing of the amp - treble, normal or bass - was sometimes indicated in full by the output terminal block. The name "Westrex" occasionally figures too. At least one AC80/100 has a simple metal-stamped "W".

Black panelled AC30s, it should be said, seem not to have been assembled at Westrex (no red dye), which gives a sort of terminus ante quem agreeing with the date given above.

Above, four images of a copper-panelled AC30, serial number unknown. For further details, see this thread. The fifth picture is of the chassis of an AC80/100 made at Westrex in the first quarter of 1965 - laydown choke, link voltage selector, originally black panel.


Other manufacturers marked their solder joints with red too - Hiwatt as made by Dave Reeves, and Marshall in the period c. 1967 - 1970 - perhaps a hangover of procedures for checking equipment made for the military. Reeves was after all known for his "military spec" wiring. The substance employed is variously said to be red light bulb lacquer (ie. the substance used to tint the glass of bulbs red); or red "layout fluid" as used for marking up prototype objects made of steel. Layout fluid sounds most likely.

On the left a JMP 1959 100W Super Lead from 1969 and on the right a Hiwatt DR103. For Marshall amps, see the discussion on this Plexi Palace thread. The Hiwatt image came from this Plexi Palace thread.


That Westrex could produce beautiful wiring too, is shown by this AC80/100:

However, it must be said that the firm was equally capable of turning out fairly average work - perhaps the pressure of manufacturing such a diverse range of equipment made itself felt from time to time. And it may partly have been that which led Vox to move away completely from Westrex - the last AC80/100s were probably made in the second quarter of 1965 - and turn to Burndept Electronics, a subcontractor since early to mid 1964, the feeling no doubt being that it offered better prospects for mass-production.