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Emile Grimshaw     1880 to 1943

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   ... was born in Accrington, Lancashire and at 12 years of age was being taught banjo by local music teacher Will Birch ....   A course in music theory and piano gave him the technical knowledge to compose for  banjo and in 1894 published his first solo “Military March”.

 

 In 1900 he formed the Burnley B M&G Orchestra which fulfilled many local engagements for five years , at which point he started touring music halls with his wife Florence.  

 

Hi compositions attracted the attention of Clifford Essex and in 1911 he was appointed Editor of “B.M.G. “ which he undertook for 22 years.

 

The now famous author, composer, arranger and banjoist, severed connections with the Clifford Essex Company to form his own firm in conjunction with his son in 1933.

 

Previous to this date he had sold banjos to his private pupils which he had made for him by Robert (“Bob”) Blake of Finchley, London. These instruments bore the mark " E.G." or "Hartford".

 

When Emile Grimshaw & Son came into existence in Piccadilly, London, in 1933 Bob Blake was responsible for the prototypes and early model banjos sold by them but when demand increased these instruments were copied and made in Houghton's factory in Birmingham.

 

The "Vivavox" models in the Grimshaw range (based on the type of instrument made in America by Vega and called by them "Vegavox" were made for them by Sidney Young.   Starting their own workshops in 1940 (to meet the demand for guitars), Grimshaw & Son employed Will Mitchell from 1942 (after the closure of the Clifford Essex workshops) and he was responsible for many Grimshaw banjos (often made from parts acquired from the Essex workshops) until his death in 1947.

 

Since that date the firm has been noted for its guitars for over twenty years, but started to make an occasional banjo again from 1965.

 

For more detailed information on Grimshaw go here 

 

Grand and Vivavox images courtesy of Charles Allbut

Grimshaw Vivavox front