Alfred Weaver 1857 to 1939
... started to make banjos at the age of twenty-one in a workshop which he established at 7 Upper St. Martin's Lane, London, W.C.2. (at 24 years old the census has him as a musical instrument maker, married and living at 54 Balsover Street, Marylebone, Middlesex with four other famillies in the same house, he is not recorded as living in 7 St Martins Lane until he was about 28 where he was a banjo maker working from home) he was still making banjos out of the same address in 1915.
His early unfretted instruments had an ornately engraved German-silver spun over pot, highly polished fingerboard, , which was fixed to the neck by some fifty counter sunk screws on each side. At first he made the fashionable seven-string and six-string models, but when the five-string banjo became established he concentrated on these and even converted many of his earlier instruments, when he could lay is hands on them.
His craftsman-built instruments were always plain and unadorned and could easily he identified by the spoon shaped heel butt. He made banjos with varying size hoops, from 10 in. to 12 in., mostly with push-in pegs of ebony and always with a gut-attached band tailpiece. This preference for push-in pegs and wooden tailpiece was based on the theory that no metal should be in contact with the strings.
He made some zither-banjos at the height of the popularity of this instrument, but they were inclined to be heavy and lacking in true zither-banjo tone. Weaver banjos were played by many distinguished people (notably King Edward VII) and such leading professionals as James Bohee, Edwin French, Pat Shortis, Charlie Rogers, Joe Morley, Chas. E. Stainer, Tarrant Bailey Jr., and George E. Morris, to name but a few.
In addition to the instruments stamped "Alfred Weaver, Maker" on the perch pole, he made banjos for others which although unmistakably Weaver-made, bore the retailers name. Banjos made by this outstanding British craftsman can still be found bearing the trade names of James Bohee, Alfred D. Cammeyer, John Alvey Turner, Clifford Essex, etc.
He retired to Bournemouth, Hampshire in 1936, and a year later all his unfinished instruments, parts, timber, etc., were acquired by John Alvey Turner. Ltd., who, employing Sidney Young, to produced "Weaver" model banjos for some years. These were not stamped with Weaver's name on the perch pole.
On June 17th, 1939, Alfred Weaver was crossing Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth, when he was knocked down by a van. He was rushed to Boscombe Hospital, but died just before midnight.
For additional research on Weaver go to witchhazelmusic
5 string pictures courtesy of Noud Koevoets
Tenor pictures courtesy of David Neve