Allen Boothroyd, co-founder of Meridian Audio and world renowned audio designer, has died aged 76. Diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018, he is survived by his wife Judy, their daughter Emily, and baby granddaughter, Edie.
Allen Boothroyd’s contributions to the world of Hi-Fi and industrial design are immense. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in the Sixties. A talented draftsman, he continued to produce designs by hand, with 3D visuals as well as detailed engineering drawings. Inspired by his Meccano set, Allen knew from an early age that he wanted to design mechanical objects.
He went to Merchant Taylors’ school and then enrolled on a Foundation Course at Hornsey Art College. He went on to read Mechanical Engineering at Manchester University and from there, obtained a scholarship to study Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art in London. An admirer of the designers and architects of the Bauhaus, notably Walter Gropius who designed the Dessau Art School, and Mies van der Rohe whose adage, ‘less is more’, Allen adhered to and often quoted.
On graduation, he joined Hulme Chadwick and Partners, an architectural and design practice. Together with Bob Stuart, an award-winning electronics engineer, he designed a pre-amplifier and power amplifier for a new hi-fi company, Lecson Audio, which earned them a British Design Council Award in 1974 and are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the V&A in London.
In 1972, he joined Cambridge Consultants, to set up their Industrial Design division. One of his designs was an electric bicycle, awarded to the winner of the Prince Philip Designers Prize. He then partnered with Bob Stuart, who had also moved to Cambridge, and founded Meridian Audio. The two famously designed, manufactured, and sold the entire product range themselves, with very little investment.
Design Award With Stuart And Boothroyd
Boothroyd and Stuart received their second Design Council Award for the company’s 100 Series in 1982. In 1986, a new line, the 200 Series, was launched and continued to be produced until 1993. The meridian Audio range grew to include the whole range of domestic hi-fi, from CD players, radio tuners, pre-amplifiers, power amplifiers, digital-to-analogue converters, and a range of multi-room components.
A series of active loudspeakers was developed and brought to market in 1988. By this time, Meridian Audio had become known for its state-of-the-art electronics, distinctive design style, and corporate identity. In 1988, Bob and Allen were presented with their third Design Council Award by the Duke of Edinburgh, becoming the first design team to win this award on three occasions. In 1991, Allen founded his own consultancy, Cambridge Product Design, offering one-stop design solutions, which he ran from his home in Little Shelford.
His designs included the BBC Microcomputer, Europe’s most successful educational computer of its time, a new class of loudspeaker for Canon, the first Patientline, providing a phone/TV/Radio console for hospital patients, the Aga Masterchef range cooker, a coffee machine, timpani drums, and different types of loudspeaker for KEF, Celestion, THX, and Russound.
He continued as Design Director of Meridian Audio. Allen’s semi-retirement provided time for him to indulge his hobbies: drawing and painting, tennis, golf, and music.
From the 1990s, he would always take his sketch pad on holiday and took pleasure in sitting in front of a historic building or view that captured his imagination. Music was always an important part of Allen’s life, in particular classical and jazz.