Monday, 4 January 2010

Rushworth`s Request for information

Dear Sirs,

I am a direct descendant of William Rushworth who founded the family organ building business in Liverpool in 1828. A few years later the business expanded into retail musical instruments. The business developed over the years and was very much part of the cultural and artisic life of Liverpool for many years. My brothers ran the business as the fifth generation, but sadly it closed a few years ago.

It has an interesting history and I am collecting as much material as I can find, with a view to writing a book about the family company and those who ran it. I have a reasonable amount of material but am making inquiries to see if I can find more. Do you have any material which might be relevant or ideas where I might find historical papers or other information about the business in Liverpool?

Any ideas you have which might help me in my search would be very much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Jonathan Rushworth



    Rushworth &, Dreaper Ltd., the Liverpool firm of musical instrument manufactures and dealers established in 1828 and they introduced a line of zither-banjos in 1910 using the brand name of "Apollo." The instruments were not made by them but were constructed to their specifications (probably by Windsor or Matthews of Birmingham In the early 1920s, the dance band boom induced them to launch their "Ardetone"(R-D-tone) plectrum-banjos and tenor-banjos which were styled on the American "Paramount" instruments. With only slight modifications they are very good copies of the instruments from across the Atlantic.

  2. There are records for this Company at Liverpool Record Office 4th Floor William Brown Street. You may also be interested to know that a relative of this family entered Liverpool's Oldest family competition to celebrate Liverpool's 800th Birthday

  3. lesleyhammond21@hotmail.com4 April 2010 at 14:59

    I have just acquired a book called " Story - Lives of Great Composers" volume one by E.M.G. Reed and enscribed inside is the following.

    To Miss Margaret Meather, with the compliments of W.Maynard Rushworth, Local representative of The Royal Academy, and The Royal College, of music.
    13 Islington, Liverpool. 17 June 1925
    Also on the book is a Gold embossed sticker with RUSHWORTH & DREAPER ISLINGTON LIVERPOOL

    Please could anyone tell me what generation he is, as stated William Rushworth founded the business in 1828 so is this his son?

  4. Alison Henshaw on behalf of Irene Henshaw25 April 2010 at 13:47

    My name is Mrs Irene Henshaw and I worked at Rushworth and Draper from 1937 (when I was 18 years old and my name was Miss Platt) to 1941 when the war meant that I had to leave to work at the Ministry of Food.
    Rushworths was a very significant part of my young life in Liverpool and I have very fond memories of my job there and the many characters I worked with.
    My first role was in the organ works on Great George Street - a marvellous place. I remember the apprentice organ builders and George Hutchins the Manager of the organ works who tested them. I recall sitting alongside him on the organ bench while he played, urging him to ‘swing it’ a bit! The men were highly skilled craftsman – my bosses Mr Rackham and Mr Parker were university graduates. Every room contained organ pipes and the various elements that went into the build – it was very complicated. When the war came, the organ works was closed because it was felt that organs were luxury items and there would be no call for them. The Sheet Music Department was also a very important part of the business.
    When the organ works closed, I went to work in the shop on Islington where they sold radiograms, I then worked in the publicity department – scouring the newspapers for any reference to Rushworth and Draper and keeping the cuttings - and I also worked for a short spell in the basement trying to sell, would you believe, washing machines and industrial sized ironing boards! This idea was Mr James Rushworth’s – he thought it would be a money spinner but it didn’t work. I also remember Maynard Rushworth who gave piano lessons.
    One of my friends was Miss Rae Davies who worked in the Box Office managing all the ticket sales for shows around the country and for the Liverpool theatres too. Miss Davies shared the Box Office with a parrot that greeted customers – a company gimmick - it used to irritate her terribly.
    As well as serving all things musical, Rushworths had a strong connection with the theatres and with visiting actors. Rushworth Hall was used by artistes for rehearsals and many famous names of the day passed through the doors including Michael Redgrave; Malcolm Sargent was also a regular visitor.
    Rushworth’s cared for their employees – although the pay wasn’t brilliant. As well as a staff restaurant serving excellent food, there was a rest room for female employees who might have a tummy ache and need a hot water bottle and a lie down. There was also an annual company sports day.

  5. I started work at worked at Rushworth and Dreaper's on 5 January 1957, first at the Islington Shop where I worked in the record department. On entering the shop turning right you would walk past the sheet music department which was quite a narrow area: turning left at the end you then walked up a few stairs, passing the record cabinets, which as a junior it was my job to dust everyday, another few stairs and you came to the long narrow record department. The glass topped counter was on the right under which were the turntables for the record booths. The longplaying records were kept in glass cabinets which lined the two thirds of the right hand wall. On the opposite side was a area - which led to the box office - in which were hoods where people could stand and listen tot the records - the shellac ones at this time -

    Opposite, and also further down from the glass cabinets were rooms in which were a couple of wicker chairs and a table on which was a gramophone player; it was here that staff would take the customers buying long playing records and put on the record for them. I served many of the 'stars' that were appearing in Liverpool including Sam Wanamaker,and Ken Dodd, although Ken was still making his way in showbusiness at the time, he always made us laugh. Unbeknown to me at the time was most probably the Beatles who I got to know better when the shop removed to Whitechapel.

    I loved the rambling building in Islington. The main approach in entering the store took you up some rather grand stairs and into one of the piano showrooms. The staff would have the breaks and meals in a room in the attics reached by a narrow enclosed staircase. On the right at the top was the room for management and opposite the general staff had their breaks. The kitchen was opposite the window which looked down Lime Street, and had a cooking range which meals were served - you could get a mashed potato and fried egg for a shilling - 5p today. Their were about 3 long tables covered in white table clothes.

    Rushworths also owned Cramers in Bold Street which also had a record department. When they opened a small shop in West Kirby in 1958 under the Cramer name I was asked up to the very imposing Director's room were Mr Pinfold and Mr Mullineux asked if I would take on the post of managing the record department there. I was given another £1 a week plus the additional travel expenses.

    I left R&D for about 15months and went to work for Brian Epstein in his NEMS Great Charlotte st shop in Liverpool, but returned briefly to R&D's Islington shop just before it moved to open its Whitechapel were I stayed until my marriage in 1963. It was here that the Beatles often came in and chatted to us girls - and were I mislaid what would have been some very valuable drawings and doodles done by John and Paul. I could go on but will finish here.

  6. Jonathan, I don't think my text went through. However, if you are still wanting material for your book I have a fund of memories from 1957-1963 when I worked for R&D if you would like to contact me by email. Di

  7. I have a piano Rushworth, Kensington model, probably from the early '900. I'd be curious to know the history of this model, the actual years of production and sales. I am Italian and this piano was given to me by a friend who had purchased antiques at an auction in England. In Italy I could not find useful information and I do not find similar examples so let me know the quotations and if there is a way or a person capece to repair the piano because have any broken gavel and some key stops. For those who wish can send photos of the piano. Thanks Antonio

  8. I am writing the 2011 Stuart Panting Memorial Essay for the New Zealand Association of Organists. I am interviewing a former Rushworth and Dreaper organ building charge-hand John A Lee who set up his own firm in New Zealand in 1959. I was apprenticed to John. Any contacts with former colleques would be appreciated.
    Roy Tankersley. Palmerston North New Zealand