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Steve Dickinson learned about concertina making by going into the Boosey & Hawkes factory on a Saturday morning (in the early 1970s) to help Sid Watkins, the last of the old Wheatstone concertina craftsmen. But he was astonished to turn up as usual, one Saturday morning in 1974, to find everything thrown out in a skip, and to hear that Sid had died that week - so he then set about rescuing the old Wheatstone firm and eventually took it over.


Sid Watkins is the man to be seen grinding strips of reed steel at the beginning of the Concertina Factory British Pathé newsreel.


This BBC report on the history and construction of concertinas, from the East Anglian Film Archive, has been posted on "the other channel" (melodeon.net) today, so (obviously) I thought people here would like to know about it too:


Spectrum - Out Of Town - Squeezebox: Concertinas,1985 Thornham Magna, Suffolk


"Opening with [Dick Miles] and concertina quartet performing Mexborough Memories - a ballad about the Mexborough English Prize Concertina Band from Yorkshire - the film moves to the Suffolk workshop of Steve Dickinson, who makes concertinas under the Wheatstone & Co. brand.

Construction methods including hand-sawn patterning and reed placement are shown, before Dickinson explains the operation of this unique instrument and its use to perform brass band and parlour music. The segment concludes with a parlour performance by Dickinson's own concertina quartet."

I used to visit Steve when his workshop was at Thornham Magna, and Dick Miles used to live at my house...

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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Great stuff, Stephen. Thanks for posting it.


I remember visiting Steve Dickinson in his shop in the early 1990s. He built a new bellows once for my Wheatstone English, and I now own one of his own-built Wheatstone Anglos....a very fine instrument that shows he attained a great set of skills. In my opinion, it is the equal of the classic Wheatstones.

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The bit about the space in the reed chamber having a resonant frequency being comparable with that of the reed is completely wrong. For example, the wavelength in air of middle-C is about 130cm - about 50 times more than the size of a reed chamber. Obviously the size of the chamber has an effect on the reed/sound produced, but not as described here (and the statement that there are no overtones is wrong too, fortunately).

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If this was a film made for TV broadcast then the name supers (superimpositions) for the participants such as 'Steve Dickenson, Concertina. Maker' would have been put on as it went to air. If the broadcast was videotaped for archiving as it went to air then the names would have been on it. The rendition we have seen here looks like a new copy of the original film which was much easier and cheaper to archive. The notes with it in the archive would have contained the names and times of the supers and any musical clearances needed for replay.


I also feel very forgiving about the explanations offered in the video. To us they are obviously wrong but that was the thinking back then. May time be kinder to us..!

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Sadly, I'm getting "Access denied".


I can watch other stuff from the same site, so perhaps it has been made unavailable to overseas viewers upon request of the BBC.


Will try again through a UK proxy server...





Didn't help. Now getting "Video not found or access denied" message.


Any suggestions?

Edited by malcolm clapp
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