Howarth of London: The UKs leading Woodwind Specialists

Howarth of London, Woodwind Specialists are tucked away on the fashionable Chiltern Street located just parallel to Baker Street in London.

howarth of london, howarth oboe, clarinet at howarth
Howarth of London Shop Front on Chiltern Street

The Company was formed in 1948 but can trace its manufacturing history back to George Howarth woodwind repairs in the West end of London in 1894. Howarth of London are renowned for their professional range of Oboes that are played by members of many of the Leading Orchestras in the UK & Overseas. The company manufactures a range of professional Oboes in workshops located by the Sea in Worthing West Sussex.

I had the privilege of visiting the manufacturing facilities recently and was amazed at the work that goes into producing these beautiful instruments. Howarth have a dedicated and vastly experienced team of craftsmen that are involved in making these fantastic instruments. The makers have my total admiration. I was highly impressed with the skill, care & absolute pride that the engineering staff put into making these oboes. It takes 6 craftsmen upwards of 80 hours working with over 300 components to make an Oboe!  No wonder so many professional oboists worldwide choose Howarth!

21st Century Oboe: A great Article about how Howarth of London have redesigned the Oboe for Modern Musical Repertoire.

I wouldn’t have the patience & dexterity to work like this. When I was younger I used to get frustrated with Airfix kits, never mind the hours, days & weeks of dedication that go into producing a Professional Oboe!

oboe repairs, repairer at howarth of london
Making a Howarth of London Professional Oboe

The retail premises in London are split into the separate specialist departments. Oboes, Clarinets, Saxophones & Bassoons. There is also a team of dedicated instrument repairers on site that live at the back of the shop. The repair department reminds me of my grandfathers workshop. Inside there are wood turning machines, old tools, new expensive looking tools, files, pots of ‘stuff’, various tubes of grease, bits of wood, blowtorches, bits of metal, selections of wire, lots of very sharp tools & the list goes on and on.  There really is a ‘dark art’ to fixing a woodwind instrument!

howarth of london
Repairing a Woodwind Instrument at Howarth of London

All staff at the shop are players and have their own dedicated departments. If you are a woodwind player or if you are wanting to learn an instrument or get advice about what instrument is suitable to your needs the staff are really helpful & knowledgeable.

The shop has become one of the most highly respected specialist music shops in the world. No woodwind section of any touring orchestra or woodwind musician visiting London misses an opportunity to visit Howarth.

olivia wild clarinet specialist, howarth clarinets
Testing a Buffet ‘Tosca’ clarinet

The business is always busy when I visit. The Howarth of London shop is always filled with the sound of music from someone in the dedicated testing rooms finding a new instrument or new mouthpiece to buy, or from the staff testing repaired instruments and finding out what’s new to recommend to visiting players.

If you are a musician and would like to find out more about this friendly specialist shop then get in touch with them direct

olivia wild clarinet howarth of london
Soprano Saxophones on display at Howarth of London

I would like to thank the Howarth directors Nigel Clark and Jeremy Walsworth for allowing me access to the business for photographic purposes


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