SIR EDWARD ELGAR was an early adopter. If he’d been alive today, he would be streaming music through his wireless headphones.

He was a great advocate of the gramophone record, cutting his first disc in 1914, opening the famous Abbey Road studios in 1931 and even conducting an orchestra in the studio by a telephone link from his deathbed in 1934 – amazing what new technology can do.

On July 20, 1921, he opened the Gramophone Company’s first retail outlet – a “super-shop” – in London’s Oxford Street, and he said he hoped more people would listen to cultured gramophone records so that they abandoned the “wild and virulent piano playing” that was popular in the suburbs.

This super-shop was the first HMV. It said “His Master’s Voice” over the door and the fascia featured the classic picture of Nipper the dog looking quizzically down the trumpet of a gramophone player.

Nipper was a cross-breed with more than a bit of Jack Russell in him. He was born in Bristol in 1884 and liked to nip the backs of visitors’ legs. He was owned by the Barraud family, and although he died in 1895, painter Francis Barraud remembered how the dog had been genuinely perplexed by the source of the sound when he painted his iconic image in 1899.

In the first version, the sound was emanating from cylindrical Edison-Bell phonograph, but when Barraud showed the painting to the Edison-Bell managing director, he dismissed it, saying: “Dogs don’t listen to phonographs.”

Barraud next showed it to William Barry Owen of the Gramophone Company in London, which acted for Emile Berliner, the US inventor of the flat gramophone disc. Owen said that if Barraud replaced the cylindrical phonograph with a flat gramophone, he’d buy the picture, and so HMV became the logo of the company.

It first appeared on a record label in February 1909, and above the first super-shop in 1921 but, sadly, it may not see out 2019. After disastrous trading in the week before Christmas, when sales of CDs and dvds were 30 per cent down on the same week last year, HMV slipped into administration, a victim of the new digital technology.

I paid my weekly visit to the Darlington branch on Wednesday, to check out the latest sounds about which I know nothing, and it seemed pretty busy, although it probably was just other old fogeys trying to cash in their Christmas giftcards on limited edition reissues before it is too late.

In my converted attic, I have a floor-to-sloping-ceiling collection of alphabetically-arranged CDs, and downstairs, I have an old linen cupboard full of ordered vinyl records, plastic jackets protecting their artfully designed sleeves and sealing in that marvellous, exciting smell of new music.

But my daughter, 20, doesn’t even have a CD player. She walks round with headphones jammed into her ears while somehow getting music out of her phone, and my son, 15, comes up to the attic and watches a tiny needle extracting noise from a spinning bit of plastic with the same disbelieving air that Nipper showed when he peered into the trumpet.

I was never bothered by the wonder of Woolies. I never visited BHS or Toys R Us or Mothercare. Binns on High Row is a place I walk through only when it’s raining, and I’ve got round the closure of M&S by wearing my underpants even when they’ve got holes in. They’re all just shops, but if HMV goes, Darlington town centre will lose part of its soul.