Recording Pioneers

Joseph BATTEN  ("Joe")1885 - 1955   arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


Joseph BATTEN  ("Joe")1885 - 1955

aka Joseph Batten, Joe Batten, J. Batten
nationality English
occupation pianist/accompanist; conductor; recording engineer; arranger, writer, producer
birth 10 Oct 1885, Hoxton, Borough of Shoreditch, London (FreeBMD: 1c 63)
baptism 1 Nov 1885, St John The Baptist, Hoxton (Hackney)
death 18 April 1955, Ealing, West London (69y)
burial .........
marriage married in 24 June 1906 in St John The Baptist, Hoxton, Shoreditch to:
Emily/Emma JARVIS (FreeBMD 1c 156)

b. 24 Jan 1882, ........., ........
d. 17 Feb 1976, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA

(stagename: Cissie DAVIES, p. 48-49)
  • Albert ("Bud") Henry

    b. 12 Jan 1908, De Beauvoir, East London
    d. 19 Apr 1991, Plymouth, Devon

  • Irene Hope

    b. 9 Dec 1913, Islington, London
    d. 16 Aug 1983, Worthing, West Sussex


father Albert Samuel BATTEN

b. 7 Apr 1864, St Luke, Middlesex
d. 28 July 1914, Islington (50y) - buried 4 Aug 1914

mother Jennie/Jane DEAN

b. .... 1865, .......
d. ............

marriage on 23 Feb 1883, Shoreditch / St Marks, Old Street, Middlesex
  • Albert

    b. 28 Oct 1883, Hackney, London
    d. ................

  • Joseph Albert

    b. 10 Oct 1885, Hoxton, Borough of Shoreditch, London
    d. 18 April 1955, Ealing, West London

  • Phoebe

    b. 15 Mar 1890, London, Middlesex
    d. .................

  • Matilda

    b. 14 Febr 1892,
    d. .................

  • May

    b. .. Mar 1994, ..........
    d. .............

  • George

    b. .. Dec 1995, ..........
    d. ...........

  • William

    b. .. Sep 1899, ...........
    d. ...........

  • Violet E.

    b. .. Mar 1901, ...........
    d. ...........

  • Nellie

    b. .... 1902, .........
    d. .... 1909, ..........

  • Emily

    b. 24 Aug 1906, Shoreditch, London
    d. .. Dec 1906, Shoreditch, London


1901 CENSUS (Hoxton, London, ENGLAND)
Albert S Batten (36y) artificial florist
Jane Batten (37y)
- Joseph Batten (15y) pianoforte music accompanist
- Phoebe Batten (11y)
- Matilda Batten (9y)
- May Batten (7y)
- George Batten (5y)
- William Batten (1y)
- Violet E Batten (3m)

Joe Batten's grandson, Mr. Michael Lloyd-Davies, kindly provided me with the following resumé of Joe Batten's life:

Joseph Batten spent half a century in the world of gramophone music.
He was self taught and proud of his cockney background (A true Englishman).
He described himself as a backroom boy but he achieved greater things as an accompanist, conductor, orchestrator, composer and writer.
His father was a Tenor in his spare time but before that his family were firstly boot makers, then manufacturers of artificial flowers popular in Victorian times.
Joe left school aged 14. He accompanied his father at music hall and working men’s clubs.
His first encounter with recording was when he was 14.
He remembers those early days which coincided with the transition from cylinder to shellac.
He wrote his memoirs published in 1956, a year after he died.
His book is full of anecdotes about his 50 years in the business and the people he met and worked within the 39 out of 78 concerns making records up to 1914.
He got his first ‘break’ in 1906, the year he married Emily Jarvis when he was offered a permanent engagement with THE NEOPHONE RECORDING COMPANY.
He was called up in 1916. Neophone went bust shortly before. He then became Manager at BRITISH POLYPHON MUSIKWERK which ended abruptly due to war.
When Joe was demobbed the industry was booming due largely to the popularity of war songs.
He organised musical concerts for Lord Rothschild and recorded the Coronation of Edward VII in his spare time.
His father, Albert, died suddenly at the outbreak of war and Joe used his talents for the Soldiers Entertainment Fund – the forerunner of ENSA in W.W.II.
At the end of the war he began working for EDISON BELL UK.
He built a catalogue into a new venture called VELVET FACE which was created to compete with the twin market leaders HMV and COLUMBIA RECORDS UK.
Joe received praise for his acoustic recording of "The Dream of Gerontius" – considered impossible by his main rival at HMV.
In 1927 Joe joined COLUMBIA RECORDS UK.
At Columbia he was involved with the switch to electrical recording and many other improvements in the quality of sound recording on discs.
He particularly participated in the growth in mobile recording.
He made early abridged acoustic recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan operas...
... and introduced many innovative initiatives such as “Illustrated Songs” using mixing and remote studios.
He also brought stars together for the first time in his “Columbia on Parade” series
In his memoirs he recalls many recordings in his beloved Holland.
In his capacity as conductor, Joe is acknowledged on recordings for the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra both of which he helped to form.
In 1932 Columbia merged with HMV to become EMI.
In 1934 Joe set up the “Special Recording Department”.
He became involved in radio programmes with his son ‘Bud’.
In World War Two he was involved with ENSA.
After the war his department worked from Abbey Road Studios.
The last five years were spent producing programmes for sponsored radio offshore and studio activity included two royal events – George VI’s Silver Wedding and the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Joe writes affectionately about his 30 year involvement with The Savage Club as accompanist and organiser of their famous Saturday Night dinners.
(Mr. Michael Lloyd-Davies is preparing a new edition of Joe Batten's memoirs which will be published by Amazon / Kindle (e-book))


  • Joe Batten's Book. The Story of Sound Recording by Joe Batten (1956, Rockcliff Publishing Corporation)
  • reproductions of pages from Neophone catalogues in Hillandale News No. 117 of Nov 1980 (p. 128/136-137), No. 118 of Feb 1981 (p. 160-161)


Joe Batten
The recording by Columbia of Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" in
Stoke Poges Churchyard (ca 1934).
Standing (left to right): the Sexton, the Organist, the Churchwarden, the Vicar Rev.
Mervyn Clare (all of Stoke Poges), Charles Gregory (behind the microphone), Ion Swinley
(recitation) and "Bud" Batten.
Seated (left to right): W. S. Purser (technical chief), Joe Batten and the Vicar's wife or
Mrs. (Viola) Gregory
Doublesided 78rpm disc released on Columbia
(From Joe Batten's Book: The Story of Sound Recording)


Michael Lloyd-Davies (né Batten)
Leslie Gage