Exhibit of the Week: Concertians, Beck Isle Museum, Pickering

Concertina in the music case.
Concertina in the music case.

There are a number of musical instruments on display at the Beck Isle Museum in Pickering. Among them are two concertinas; played by stretching and squeezing a central bellows between the hands to blow air over reeds, each note being sounded by a button.

The smaller concertina is quite a common instrument, but the larger model is something more special due to the number of keys. This type of concertina would have been quite expensive to buy. In 1915 a concertina with 56 keys would cost £16 and a Tenor Trebor with 64 keys would have cost £24.

Looking more closely reveals that the concertina was made by C Wheatstone and Co. Inventors, Patentees and Manufacturers, 15 West Street, Charing Cross Road, London WC. The concertina was invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1827, known for his scientific breakthroughs. During the 1850s the Wheatstone factory reached the height of its output as the concertina became very fashionable. The company won awards in 1851, 1885, and the Grand Prize in 1908 for their Concertinas and Aeolds. Popular as both a solo and an ensemble instrument, the concertina was built in a range of sizes, including treble, bass, baritone and piccolo.

Both concertinas on display at the Beck Isle Museum were used by William Bradley who together with his wife Lillie (nee Gaines) were members of the Pickering Salvation Army Band, which started in Bridge Street, Pickering in 1870. The instruments were presented to the museum by their son Dennis who was also a musician and played for many years in local brass bands.

The Beck Isle Museum in Pickering is open 7 days a week and this month the museum celebrates its 50th anniversary. Please visit www.beckislemuseum.org.uk to find out more about the events taking place.