ORIGINAL MANOR STUDIO’S DESK


Contrary to popular belief this is the first mixing desk that was installed at the Virgin Manor Studios in Kiddlington, on the outskirts of Oxford.


It was replaced by the Helios desk after a few years, but this is the desk that was used for Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and many other early Virgin Music releases.


In the late 80s I was asked to locate the desk so that Mike Oldfield could recreate the guitar sound that he used on Tubular Bells. Eventually I tracked it down and found it in bits in a barn (complete with traces of straw).


I mounted two of the input modules and one of the stereo compressors in a 19” rack for Mike to use and then have had the rest of the desk sitting in my shed for 20 years, always meaning to renovate it.


The desk had been fully dismantled when I found it and the main motherboard had been attacked with a hacksaw !!!


I have decided the time is now ripe to revisit this as a project.


After much agonising I have decided that it is just not worth the time and money to renovate this as a fully working console, but instead I have decided to renovate the modules and offer them for sale.


The desk was built by Walsall Timing Developments who I believe went on to become REBIS and based on a smaller design from the late 60s. The schematics I have are dated from 1968.


It had 20 input modules and 4 stereo compressor / limiters. There were 16 mix busses and monitoring was achieved on a small mix-down section.


As Mike has 2 input modules and one of the stereo compressors I am left with 18 modules and 3 compressors to renovate.

Stage one will be to fully renovate two input modules and one compressor which means replacing all electrolytic capacitors and toggle switches and pots. Then I can then let the engineers at AIR Studios try them out to see how ‘interesting’ they sound. This will also give me a good idea of how much time each module takes to renovate and the cost of the components.


I hope that I will be able to offer renovated ‘bare’ input modules for between £400 and £500 and I can imagine a pair of modules and a compressor in a smart wooden sleeve with power supply and output drivers and connector panel for somewhere between £2000 and £3000.

Richard Barrie, a recording studio technical engineer with more than 30 years experience, can be contacted at

info@richardbarrie.com        www.richardbarrie.com