Robin Hoare

Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins produce speakers for nearly every application and performance level, from the mighty 800 Series used in Abbey Road Studios to the diminutive Mini Theatre that will grace even the most minimal home. B&W also make the acclaimed Zeppelin I pod dock and provide in car audio for Jaguar. Simply one of the world's finest hi fi manufacturers.

In 1957 John Bowers and Ray Wilkins, started up a Hifi Retail outlet on the south coast in Worthing. The Shop, called Bowers and Wilkins, is still there on its original site, although its now run by Ray’s grandson Paul Wilkins. Dissatisfied by the quality of the loudspeakers he was selling, John Bowers began to design, and build his own, in the rear of the store. He built up a strong, and loyal base of customers, and eventually, in 1966, and with the help of a legacy from a former customers will, John started Bowers and Wilkins Manufacturing at Meadow lane Worthing.

Right from the word go, John decided he would live modestly, and plough as much off the companies profits back into R&D, in his quest to make the world’s best loudspeakers. 44 years on, that’s still the company’s aim, and ambition.

The company soon grew, and built up a strong following in Europe, and the USA. Even to this day, export still makes up over 85% of the companies $85mllion turnover. Today Bowers and Wilkins employs over 350 people in various factories, and offices all over the world, the main factory, a purpose built 140,000 square foot building, sits a few yards away from the original site at Dale Rd Worthing.

John was always aware of the importance of the R&D side of the company, and quickly set up a separate R&D Facility, now based in the former SME factory at Steyning This facility employs over 25 full time engineers, working on new projects and developments, many that never see the light of day. Non the less, it’s through the work done at Steyning, that has seen Bowers and Wilkins become world leaders in loudspeaker design for decades.

Advances such as the use of Kevlar, Roacell, and industrial Diamonds, in loudspeaker cone, and tweeter materials, exotically shaped cabinets, and housing drive units in separate enclosures, have all since been adopted by other manufacturers, but was discovered by the Steyning engineers first.

We, quite rightly, remain proud of our heritage, but also of our current crop of loudspeakers, large or small, and at whatever price. Your task, as a consumer is much easier than ours. You simply have to listen, and then you will see.