VIDEO: Wood you believe it - world-famous oboes made in Worthing

TUCKED away in Worthing is a small factory where craftsmen with nimble fingers make internationally-renowned oboes.

From shaping 50-year-old wood into the appropriate form and cutting out and silver-plating the keys that will later be used to play the instrument, to testing, shining and polishing the oboe so it's ready for sale.

Click on the green play button to watch a video tour of the oboe workshop.

For the last 60 years, wind instruments made by Howarth of London, based in Buckingham Road, Worthing, are shipped all over the world and played by some of the most accomplished musicians.

The company, which sells its instruments from its prestigious retail shop in London but produces all of them in Worthing, has been in the wind instrument business since 1948 when the first instrument was made and sold.


"People are always so surprised when they find out that hidden away in a back street of Worthing is this incredible place where wood is turned into a perfect oboe," said Laura King, 22, from Shoreham, who deals face to face with customers.

"It's funny to think that an instrument made here could eventually end up abroad and played by a famous musician."

This year, Howarth is celebrating 60 years of instrument-making, all of which are almost entirely hand-made, except from some precision details carried out by high-tech machines.

The company's manufacture has been based in Worthing since 1980 when Howarth moved production from London after rates became too high.

Leading suppliers

The company has become the largest oboe manufacturer in the UK, employing 27 expert staff, and is one of the world's leading suppliers of oboes, bassoons, clarinets and saxophones.

Jeremy Walsworth and Nigel Clark co-own the company. Jeremy started working at Howarth in 1981 as a skilled keyworker and became a director in 2002. He said: "It has been a privilege to work over many years alongside such skilled and dedicated staff.

"I am proud that Howarth of London continues to manufacture oboes, oboes d'amore, cors anglais and clarinets in Worthing. We are one of the last remaining instrument-makers in the UK and continue to hand-make the finest instruments which are played by international artistes in the UK and all over the world.

Unique service

"Because of our established experience of making instruments, we can offer a unique and comprehensive service from repairs to accessories and advice for all woodwind players in the Worthing, Lancing and Shoreham areas from our Worthing premises."

Howarth supplies junior instruments to West Sussex County Council's support service which then allocates them to schools across the Worthing and Shoreham area.

To celebrate 60 years, the Worthing workshop is holding a series of instrument days.

On Wednesday, October 8, people are invited to attend saxophone day and a week later, there will be a clarinet instrument day. Oboe day will be held on Wednesday, November 5.

To book a place and for more information, call 01903 239219 or email


Click here to go back to Worthing news.

Where are you? Add your pin to the Herald's international readers' map by clicking here.

Email the Herald: