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Crane Driver

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About Crane Driver

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 04/24/1949

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    http://www.cranedrivinmusic.com
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    Male
  • Interests
    I write songs for a hobby, as they don't die as quickly as tropical fish. See website for lyrics. The songs are based on stories from Swansea's maritime and industrial history, which is another of my interests.
  • Location
    Swansea, South Wales (UK)

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  1. I did write a bio on John Butterworth (who patented the Crane duet system) - it's available as a .pdf download from the Crane Concertina site here - if you want to link that into the article, you're welcome. John Hill Maccann is a different kettle of fish, a story still being researched, full of bigamy, desertion, and misinformation. May take a while. Andrew
  2. That 1908 wedding record is nowhere near as ‘innocent’ as MC’s post might suggest: The groom gives his name as John Henry Maccann, musician, age 47, son of John Hill Maccann, deceased, also musician John Hill Maccann was born about 1860, hence would be about 48 in 1908. How could he have a son aged 47? Precocious or what? The correction occurs in the groom’s own signature, and is the ‘wrong way round’ – he originally signed himself ‘John Hill Maccann’ and then corrected the ‘Hill’ to ‘Henry’ Who absent-mindedly signs his father’s name to the marriage register instead of his own? JHM is deliberately misleading the Registrar JHM married Eliza Wood Passmore Reed in 1878, in Plymouth, before his musical career really took off. There is no record of the marriage being annulled In the 1911 census, Eliza still considers herself to be married to JHM, though she presumably hasn’t seen him for years. She lived until 1914. Even with Minnie dead, JHM was not ‘free to marry’ in 1908 – not under his real name, anyway
  3. I think I'd better quote the obituary in full - I was concentrating on the bit about the prof's death, hoping to narrow down the work for those searching for death or burial notices. You'll also spot another reason for editing the full text - terms that were acceptable in 1915 are not so 100 years later. LOCAL PERSONALITY PASSES HENCE Liverpool abounds with personalities. Most of them are clever men; some are public performers. Who has not seen the two niggers in their song and piccolo act? Who has missed the various violinists who make music o’nights? The match-sellers, the collar-stud merchant, the raucous-voiced vendors who are always to be found at the same spot – they are all well-known folk. At football grounds we have personalities. There’s the concertina expert and the purveyor of gingerbread from a tray that is tasteful and tricky in that its light gets the eye of everyone – the greatest gift in advertising. To-day I take leave to announce that the city life and football grounds are the poorer by reason of the absence of Professor M’Cann, who died this week. A clever player, technically excellent, and a man with odd notions about “trimming” pieces he played. Professor M’Cann was known all over the city for his gentlemanliness and his expert music. The professor in his time headed the music hall bills, so I am informed, but of late years his abilities were confined to entertaining publicans’ customers and Liverpool football crowds. Without his melody, whilst awaiting the appearance of the teams, or during the interval, a football crowd will feel something lacking. This seems quite clearly to put the prof in the context where he was seen as belonging - amongst the match-sellers and buskers. It does not specifically say that the dead professor played concertina, though that is implied. I too wondered about the "trimming" - it sounds like he was in the habit of never actually finishing a piece, which might tie in with deteriorating mental health or alcoholism. It still doesn't answer the question -how did the writer know of his death, if it wasn't reported anywhere else? Does the Liverpool Echo still have records of who wrote "Bee's Sports Notes" back in 1915? It would be wonderful if an archive of his notes survived, but I'm not holding my breath. A job for Myrtle's Cook, perhaps? As far as the title 'Professor' is concerned, today it's seen as an academic rank from the world of university (different in the UK and USA, as so many things are), but it was often used more widely to signify a teacher or one who simply 'professed' to have a certain skill. It was not uncommon in the Music Hall. Today, operators of Punch & Judy shows are still referred to as Professors - see the Punch & Judy College of Professors website. The never-ending story? Andrew
  4. Hmmm - yes. All of which raises the question of how the sports reporter knew, within the week, of the Prof's death, if it wasn't reported anywhere. The 'obit' doesn't suggest the writer was personally acquainted with Maccann, just that he was a known 'character' who turned up and played his concertina at Liverpool Football matches. I suppose, assuming the 'obit' is genuine, that the Prof may have died elsewhere, perhaps on a holiday to the Isle of Man or Ireland, but most of the newspapers from there are available on line and I can't find him there either. But for the sports reporter to have known he was dead, within the week, he can't just have been an unidentified corpse washed up somewhere. The only person at this stage known to have been close to the professor was his wife Sarah (Kennerley) - but why would she inform a sports journalist, rather than a music reporter? Or perhaps she told everyone and only the sports writer bothered to print the story? Or perhaps it really WAS aliens? Andrew
  5. We should remeber, this was 1915. The Battle of Loos, the biggest British offensive of 1915, ran from mid-September to mid-October, right at the time of JHM's death. Probably people had other things on their minds than the passing of an old music hall entertainer. Perhaps, if two people with similar names passed away around the same time, in the same area, they'd get confused and only one would be recorded. There doesn't HAVE to be a conspiracy . . . or aliens! Andrew
  6. Certainly if Bob Gaskins likes to get in touch, I'll glady pass on whatever I've found during the hunt for the Professor - I'm sure he has most of it, but there may be a few bits to fill out the story. The two main loose ends I'd still like to see tidied away, are Minnie Maccann's maiden name, and whatever happened to Sarah (Kennerley). Probably even harder to track down than the Prof's death, but we can but hope. And check my thread on Maccann and Mexborough for another question to ponder - any help there would be appreciated. Andrew
  7. Ahhh - not sure about that, Gary. It sounds more like he was a persistent busker, probably bought his own ticket and played for the crowd in the hope of some loose change and a pie. Not quite in the same league as the Stones etc.! Andrew
  8. The 'British Newspaper Archive' is a wonderful site for this sort of research. Digital facsimilies of over 200 years of British newspapers, national and local, all searchable. It's just a matter of what to search for. I combined Liverpool and concertina, then every variant of 'Maccann' I could think of until that one popped up.
  9. Well, it looks like this is it. A report in the Liverpool Echo of Thursday 14 October 1915, a column entitled ‘Bee’s Sports Notes’: ‘Local Personality Passes Hence’ “At football grounds we have personalities. There’s the concertina expert and the purveyor of gingerbread from a tray . . . Today I take leave to announce that the city life and football grounds are the poorer by reason of the absence of Professor M’Cann, who died this week. A clever player, technically excellent, and a man with odd notions about “trimming” pieces he played. Professor M’Cann was known all over the city for his gentlemanliness and his expert music. The professor in his time headed the music hall bills, so I am informed, but of late years his abilities were confined to entertaining publicans’ customers and Liverpool football crowds. Without his melody, whilst awaiting the appearance of the teams, or during the interval, a football crowd will feel something lacking.” Typical that his obituary should appear in a column of sports news. And typical that they got his name wrong even at the end. Andrew
  10. I thought it was established early in this thread that the comedic rollerskating bloke was not the same man as the concertina man. Certainly the photo on the postcard doesn't look anything like the pictures of Prof J H in his own publications. I find, trawling the British Newspaper Archive, a number of reports from the West Country featuring a Mr Maccann or Professor Maccann 'of Plymouth' playing concertina at various charity and social events in Devon and Cornwall. Wheere no initials are given, I strongly suspect that most, if not all of these refer to brother William. John H would probably not have been referred to as being 'of Plymouth' at this stage. There may have been a more or less deliberate attempt to suggest that the more famous elder brother was involved, but of course no one suspected that these articles would be read or even available a century or more later. As far as spellings are concerned, that is usually down to the journalist. Just because the name appears as 'McCann' or whatever in a press report doesn't mean that the man himself spelt his name that way. I suspect that in some cases the spelling was adjusted to fit the type into the page! As for Minnie - yes, poor Minnie. Obviously rumours of her death were being put about by 'Certain Ladies' as early as 1900. Maccann seems to have felt there was no need to take her with him on his tours of America and Australia. Her death certificate does indeed give her age as 47, suggesting a birth in 1861, whereas her census entries suggest 1866. However, I have not found any record of her 'marriage' to John H, if it occurred, and have no idea of her maiden name. Her birthplace was apparently York, but there were dozens of girls born there in 1866 registered as 'Minnie' - and that may not have been the name she was registered with. As well as a name in its own right, it can be a diminutive for virtually any girl's name beginning with 'M'. Have any of the rest of you identified her? Andrew
  11. A report on a benefit concert in Plymouth, 1893 - Mr W H MacCann played a selection from the "Bohemian Girl" on his duet English concertina. 'Exeter Flying Post 11 November' Andrew
  12. Before we get too carried away by 1921, consider this advert from the Prof's 1902 booklet 'How to play the concertina' - available at the concertina library - William Hillham Hill Maccann was born in 1865 in Plymouth and seems to have lived there all his life. He died in 1936. He doesn't seem to have been a professional musician, at least not for long - in the 1911 census he is a chargehand at the naval dockyard. Newspaper accounts show he was heavily involved in the local masonic lodge. Unless there is any evidence to the contrary, I would guess this is the gentleman referred to in the 1921 report. Andrew
  13. Brilliant! I'm sure if we pool what we know, between us we can close in on what actually happened. I've looked again at Minnie Maccann's death certificate and I now think it probably is the Prof's second 'wife', since Myrtle's Cook confirms she was at 16 Dunkeld Street in 1905. She doesn't seem to have been an inmate at the workhouse - her home address is given as 180 Boaler Street, which is near Dunkeld and Winter Streets. She just seems to have gone into the Union infirmary at the end. I found this map on the Liverpool History Project website, based on maps from about 1900. For reasons best known to themselves, the map has East at the top, not North. I've highlighted Dunkeld Street, Winter Street and Boaler Street - you can also see Hengler's Circus at the bottom, near Winter Street, and the Union Infirmary on the left hand edge just north of Dunkeld St. I'm guessing the Prof and Minnie had split some time before she died, leaving her in Boaler St while he went off with Sarah to Minshull Street (not on the map but not far away). Timewise, we're getting close to the first war. I'm sure once the war started, there would be more important things to record than the death of a worn-out old music hall performer, however big he may have been. I still suspect he died around then, probably in the same Union infirmary. Almost certainly not abducted by aliens! Andrew
  14. Got it! There is a signed photo of the Prof in his 'How to Play Concertina' leaflet, dated 1902, in the Concertina Library. I'm pretty confident it's the same handwriting, especially for 'Maccann' - so that takes him to 1911. Andrew
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