Beltona History

The name ‘Beltona' has been associated with recorded Scottish Music for over 80 years. Following a preliminary trial around 1915, the company began issuing Scottish Music commercially on 78rpm discs in 1923. During it's lifetime as a major label, Beltona recruited an eclectic selection of entertainers from throughout Scotland , in the process helping to preserve the names and performances of many artistes who would now otherwise be forgotten.

Amongst those known to record during the first year of the label's life were piper James Robertson, The Sutherland Orchestra, the famous Glasgow Orpheus Choir, comedians Robert Murray and Sammy Shields and Doric monologue humourist Dufton Scott. Soon after came others like the prominent bass singer Elliot Dobie, piper Robert Reid, ‘The Buchan Chiel' George S. Morris and Jewish comedian Ike Freedman - ‘Ikey Granitesteen fae Aiberdeen'.

The early catalogue was diverse, from ‘King of the Cornkisters' Willie Kemp to Glasgow Italian accordionist Tony Capaldi – from Archie Grant the Gaelic tenor to Joe Corrie the miner's playwright from Fife . But the biggest attraction for the pre-war label was surely entertainer Harry Gordon. Post-war, Harry continued to record for a while but dance bands were now the ‘in thing' and these were the new ‘big earners' including Ian Powrie, Bobby MacLeod, Tim Wright and in particular Jim Cameron's Scottish Dance Band.

In the mid-50s vinyl began to replace the old 78rpm shellac discs. Beltona issued a series of 7” EPs, then came some 10” and 12” LPs. Old and new stars were signed up – fiddler Angus Fitchet, singer Kenneth McKellar, folk singer and actor Roddy McMillan, The Clyde Valley Stompers Jazz Band and so on. Later on, Irish stars were added to the catalogue – singers Mary O' Hara and Bridie Gallagher, The Fred Hanna Band, The Gallowglass Ceili Band … and others.

In the early 70s the label ‘modernised' itself as Beltona Sword. This meant brighter new packaging and mainly good quality stereo recordings. Some older recordings were reissued but many new faces appeared including songster Denis Clancy, Gaelic folk group Na H'Oganaich, the Bert Shorthouse Scottish Dance Band, Scots singer Bill McCue and countless others.

As you can see, Beltona has been home to many wonderful artistes over the years many of whom were spotted and recruited by A&R man Thomas B. Walker, a servant to the company for almost three decades. Some, like Calum Kennedy, and the late Jimmy Shand and Jimmy Logan have become Scottish legends. Some, who recorded as young men for the Beltona Sword label still entertain with a tune or a song today, Arthur Spink and Alasdair Gillies to mention just two. Sad to say but some from long ago are largely forgotten. In the fullness of time on this website we hope to revive on CD the sounds and memories of many of these Beltona stars of their day - whether famous or forgotten.

These are the first few paragraphs of a story which we hope will grow in future months. If you have any thoughts or memories of Beltona or the artistes, please send these to us by email at history@beltona.co.uk.

Meanwhile please feel free to return to the home page. There, in the ‘Categories' menu, you will find a link for ‘Beltona Recordings'. Click on the link to be offered a selection of albums that are either exclusively or mostly Beltona tracks. Thank you for visiting this history page, please come back again in the future.

Click here to return to the home page.

Legal Note : ‘Beltona' is a registered trade mark owned by Mr. R. A. Cairns.

Continue