A BOLTON music store which claims to be the oldest in the world is celebrating its 175th birthday this year.

Family-owned Booths Music, in Churchgate, has sold musical instruments and sheet music since 1832, when it was established by three brothers: Thomas, James and George Booth.

Current owner Tony Aspinall, who runs the shop with the help of his wife, Jean, is George's great-great-great-grandson.

The shop originally stood in Hotel Street, but moved to Churchgate in 1850.

The site formerly housed the barber shop owned by Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the water frame, which stood there from 1760 to 1768. It is one of the oldest areas of Bolton.

Tony, aged 47, has "been around" in the shop since he was 17 and believes the firm's success is down to its friendly and knowledgeable staff.

He said: "Everyone that works here loves music. It's a happy industry to be in. People aren't coming in to pay their gas bills, they're coming in for something they enjoy.

"As long as we can send the customer away happy, then I think we'll keep doing well."

The firm has seen many changes in its 175 years.

The dawn of the internet era has forced the shop to diversify and it now boasts the largest online music catalogue in the country.

This has benefited Booths' mail order business, and Tony now believes he has sent music and instruments out to almost every country possible.

"It's a bit odd to be receiving orders from Azerbaijan," he said.

"The business is now about 50/50 online and instore. The internet has taken away some business, but it has also given some back."

Tony has an exciting programme of events planned to celebrate the shop's anniversary, including a concert with the Bolton Symphony Orchestra in July.

He also hopes to get schools from across the town involved in the birthday plans.

The shop works closely with music departments in Bolton schools to supply pupils with the necessary instruments and accessories for their lessons.

And while their sheet music, wind instruments and guitars may be what the shop is best known for across the town, the staff are also familiar with less common instruments.

"We repaired a sitar the other day and we get a lot of Indian percussion instruments in," said Tony.


  • 1832 was the year that Frederic Chopin gave his first concert in Paris
  • Chopin, Debussy, Elgar, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Tchaikovsky are just some of the composers who have lived during Booths' history
  • The oldest music record store in the world is Spillers Records, in Cardiff, which was recently threatened with closure.