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Ron and his Diggola invented disco

The late, great Ron Diggins, of Boston, is credited with being the inventor of the disco. DJ Magazine named him as the world's first disc jockey.

His creation of the Diggola, mobile equipment for playing popular music at public functions, launched an entirely new industry.

And the fifth of the seven Diggolas he built is now on temporary display at Boston's Guildhall Museum.

Ron's first outing was to supply music for dancing by Land Army Girls at Swineshead and Italian Prisoners of War in 1947. He found utilising the PA kit he carried in his van and intended for speech only a bit laborious, so set his mind to thinking how better he could supply mobile music-making equipment.

Ron, who died in 2007 aged 90, had been a radio engineer with a business providing public address systems, and used his expertise to build the first Diggola in 1947. With timber in short supply after the war he made the first one using coffin boards. Demand meant that he had to build more Diggolas and hire DJs to run them. Ron retired from playing the Diggola in 1995 after around 20,000 outings.

Ron's Diggolas were something new - two record decks mounted behind a light box and speakers on a base which supported a fanned curtain and a suspended glitter ball.  The added decoration to the carcass of the central unit, in a variety of designs and materials, made each Diggola individual.

Music accompanying the Guildhall Diggola, which was built in 1964 and was originally donated to the Assembly Rooms when it was in council ownership, includes Max Bygraves' 100 greatest hits, Laurie Leigh on the "Famous Hammond organ", James Last and His Orchestra and the greatest hits of Herb Alpert and the Ijuana Brass - all sounds of the times.

Ron played his last Diggola at a New Year's Eve dance in Boston in 1994 when he was aged 77. He donated the Diggola to the Assembly Rooms as a memento of the numerous occasions he performed there and it is now part of the museum collection.

The Guildhall is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10.30am to 3.:30pm, last admission 3pm and is free to visit, although donations are welcome.  The Guildhall will be closed for Christmas from 3.30pm, Saturday, December 23, to 10.30am on Wednesday, January 3.  01205 365954

Diggola Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Diggola No 5 in all its glory at the Guildhall

Ron and his Diggola Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Ron Diggins at the controls during his disco days