Recording Pioneers

Horace Frank CHOWN  1900 - 1981 arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


Horace Frank CHOWN  1900 - 1981

aka Horace F. Chown, H. F. Chown, Horace Chown, H. Chown, Frank Chown, F. Chown
occupation recording engineer, manager
birth 18 Aug 1900, St George Hanover Square, London, ENGLAND
death .. July 1981, Worthing, West Sussex, ENGLAND
marriage married on 28 Nov 1930, Bombay, INDIA:
Katherine "Kate" ANGHELIDES

b. .... 1907, Stamboul, ............
d. .......................

  • no children
marriage married on ..........., Singapore:
Dorothy L. ..........

b. .... <1900>, ............
d. .. Apr/May/June 1968(?), ............

  • no children


father George Francis CHOWN

b. 1863, Sydenham, Oxfordshire
d. .. July/Aug/Sep 1934, Fulham, London) (71y) butler domestic

mother Emily Amelia HUTTON

b. 24 Jun 1859, Birch, Essex, ENGLAND
d. .. Jan 1949, Essex, South Western

marriage they got married on 14 Oct 1891, St Simon's Zelotes Church, Chelsea, Middlesex
  • Lucy Emily

    b. 8 Jan 1893, Knightsbridge, Hannover Square, London
    d. (?).. July/Aug/Oct 1980,Brighton(?)............

  • Mabel

    b. 16 Feb/Mar 1895, St. Geo. H. Sq. or Knightsbridge, ........
    d. .. Mar 1978, Chichester, West Sussex, ENGLAND

  • Horace Frank

    b. 18 Aug 1900, Fulham or St George Hanover Square, London
    d. .. July/Aug/Sep 1981, Worthing, West Sussex


1901 CENSUS, 8 Charles Street, St Margaret & St John The Evangelist, Knightsbridge, Westminster:
George F. CHOWN (38y) (b. Sydenham, Oxon.) butler domestic
Emily A. CHOWN (41y) (b. Birch, Essex)
- Lucy E. (8y) (b. Brentwood, Essex)
- Mabel (6y) (b. Knightsbridge, London)
- Frank (7m) (b. Knightsbridge, London)

Frank CHOWN (27y; Engineer)
SS "HAKONE MARU" (Nippon Yusen Kaisha)
dep.: 14 Jan 1928, London, ENGLAND
arr.: .... 1928, Yokohama, JAPAN
Last Residence: ENGLAND
Address in the UK: 26 Royal Avenue, Chelsea, ENGLAND

Frank CHOWN (29y; Engineer)
+ G. W. COOK (21y; Engineer)
SS "WALMER CASTLE" (Union Castle Mail Steamship Company Limited)
dep.: 2 May 1930, Southampton, ENGLAND
arr.: .. May, Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA
Last Residence: ENGLAND
Address in the UK: c/o 73 Petty France Westminster, London S.W.I.
Port of Destination: Cape Town, South Africa.

Gustave Cook and Frank Chown made recordings in Columbia's WEA-prefixed ten-inch (25cm) matrix series.
Peter Copeland gives two Cape Town recording dates: 24 & 26 May 1930 (WEA 71-86).
The exact total number of Cape Town recordings is not known.
The subsequent Johannesburg recording dates apparently were not known to Copeland.

Fortunately an article by Siemon Allen on the website of the South African Audio Archive provided further information.
According to Allen in Cape Town approximately 150 recordings were made.
Cook and Chown arrived in Johannesburg on 11 June 1930 and began recording there on 16 June 1930.
- Recordings WEA 152-202 were recorded on 16 June 1930.
- Recordings WEA 238-245 were recorded on 29 June 1930.
- Recordings WEA 472-483 were recorded on 22 July 1930.
- Recordings WEA 484-502 were recorded on ca. 25 July 1930
- Recordings WEA 654-935 were recorded ca. August 1930 (location(s) uncertain)
All recordings were issued on Columbia's REGAL label with GR-prefixed coupling numbers.

Peter Copeland also cites a number of 12-inch (30cm) Columbia recordings, allegedly made in Cape Town:
- Recordings WEAX 1-11 (before 8 September 1930)
- Recordings WEAX 13-24 (17 to 25 September 1930)
I have no idea how accurate this information is.
It is not known when the Chown/Cook recording team left South Africa.

In addition to that, Copeland lists some 12-inch (30cm) recordings, made in Cape Town on 12 and 19 March 1933:
- Recordings WEAX 29-36 (engineer(s) unknown)

F. CHOWN (30y) engineer
+ Mrs. K. C. CHOWN (23y)
+ G. W. COOK (22y) engineer
SS "ORSAVA" (Orient Steam Navigation Company)
dep.: .... 1931, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
Chown & Cook embarked at Melbourne
arr.: 25 Mar 1931, Plymouth/Tilbury, ENGLAND
country of last permanent residence: INDIA
Home address F. CHOWN / K. C. CHOWN: c/o 73 Petty France, Westminster, S.W.1
Home address G. W. COOK: c/o 73 Petty France, Westminster, S.W.1

Frank CHOWN (32y; operator)
+ William BLAND (24y; engineer)
SS "RAWALPINDI" (P. & O. S. N. Co.)
dep.: 17 Mar 1933, London (bound for Bombay, INDIA)
arr.: .... 1933, Port Said, EGYPT
Here CHOWN and BLAND disembarked.

Frank CHOWN (32y; engineer)
+ William BLAND (25y; engineer)
SS "CORFU" (P. & O. S. N. Coy.)
dep.: .... 1933, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
Itinerary: Brisbane - Sydney - Melbourne - Adelaide - Fremantle - Colombo - Bombay - Aden - Port Sudan - Port Said - Marseilles - Gibraltar - Tangier
CHOWN and BLAND embarked at Port Said, EGYPT
arr.: 28 July 1933, London, ENGLAND
country of last permanent residence: IRAQ
address: 3 Abbey Road, St Johns Wood, NW London
William BLAND's proposed address in the UK: Upton House, Kirby, There Penrith Cubb

“In a tiny recording studio at the premises of E.M.I in Abbey Road I had endless sessions with the five technicians, Frank Chown, W. Dickson, Edward Towen, H.S. Hack, and C.J. Anderson. It was mid-July before the records for the book could be played to Huxley, Nicholson and Witherby. How delighted they were to hear for the first time the recorded voices of British song-birds!”

F. CHOWN (37y) recording engineer
dep.: .... 1937, Port Harcourt, NIGERIA
CHOWN embarked at Accra, Gold Coast, WEST COAST AFRICA
arr.: 19 Nov 1937, Dover, ENGLAND
c/o E.M.I. Ltd., 3 Abbey Road, St Johns Wood, London

On page 34 of Peter Copeland's article Continental Columbia 78rpm Recordings - A Dating Guide (in: Historic Record, No. 37, Oct 1995) it says under the heading CES series (ten-inch, East Africa):
CES 1 to 8 Location not known, 2nd August 1937
Next follows a list of 1939 recording sessions with CES-prefixed matrix numbers starting from CES 550.
All following recording sessions were indeed held at locations in East Africa (Nairobi (KENYA) and Kampala (UGANDA) from 1939 onwards.
But from the passenger list it becomes clear that the first CES recordings must have been made in West Africa.
In view of Chown embarking at Accra it seems likely recordings were made in Ghana.

Frank CHOWN (51y) manager
+ Dorothy L. CHOWN (52y)
dep.: .... 1952, Djakarta, INDONESIA
arr.: 10 Mar 1952, Southampton, ENGLAND
[manager of] Overseas-Club London St James Piccadilly
country of last permanent residence: SINGAPORE

Gramophone Company & Columbia recording expert (Tehran 1933)
Gramophone Company/HMV: 0Z / 2Z (25cm / 30cm)
Columbia: WO1 / WOX1 (25cm / 30cm)


  • The Gramophone Company's Persian Recordings 1899 to 1934 by Michael S. Kinnear. Bajakhana, Victoria, 2000 (p. 23)
  • Excavated Shellac of 13 Apr 2009 and 22 June 2016
  • Continental Columbia 78rpm Recordings - A Dating Guide, Part One by Peter Copeland (in: Historic Record, No. 37, Oct 1995)
  • South Africa Audio Archive (
  • Articles in Rand Daily Mail of 5, 12, 17 and 30 June 1930




Emily Mawson
Marylou Livingstone
Maria Kapkidi (co-researcher RP)