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Alan Day

An Afternoon At Crabb Concertina Works

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I am going to put my memory to a severe test on this posting.

My work shortly before this visit took me past a tannery and leather shop and it was here I bought a huge bag of leather offcuts some of which are still in my loft.I decided to have a go at making a set of bellows without a clue as to exactly how it was done.On a cardboard frame using Evostick (impact edhesive) I made a set of bellows.Light brown sides dark brown surrounds (the two colours I had) I must say that I was rather proud of these bellows as they looked very pretty, but I did not bother to put wooden ends on them as it was just an exercise as to whether I could do it.I had been to Crabb to purchase my CG Jeffries and I had to go to London on business so I rang up and made an appointment see see them in the afternoon and show them my bellows.

The Crabb works was walking distance from Angel Islington just off the main road. From the outside it looked like a typical London shop and when you went into the front door there was a small counter in front of you and from memory sometimes there were concertina on shelves behind the counter. Neville Crabb always came out to see you.He was the front man and Salesman of the business.It had not been long since I visited them so Neville recognised me.I showed him my bellows and he immediately opened the door to let me into the workshop. Just inside the door to the right was two Fly presses,these are hand operated and work on a screw system which brings the punch down when you pull the handle towards you.There were a number of reed blanks that had been stamped out of spring steel with a punch and die, on the bench of these presses. the rest of the room about twenty foot square had benches around it."Have a look at this Dad" said Neville with a grin on his face .Harry was tuning in the right hand corner of the room and had a little dovetail plate which the reed slid into, a hole drilled underneath it through the bench on what he was sitting at and a set of bellows underneath the bench to blow air through the reed. The laughing then started they had never seen anything like my bellows.At least one other person may be two were in there.It may have been Geoff or John Conner or both.

I was then shown the collapsable bellows that had a set of bellows on them . These collapsable bellows were a work of art and beautifully made.I was then shown the most disgusting glue pot of flour and water paste that was mouldy on top.This is a requirement I was told.Neville was actually quite interested that I had used Evostick and liked the fact that it was instant ,unlike the flour and water paste that had to be left days to set off .I did cheer them all up and we all had a good laugh.It was my only time in that inner room and I doubt if many ever got in there but I thought I would share this rare experience with you all.

Al

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Couldn't happen now. It was quite commonplace for visitors to be invited up into the Dippers' workshop (and their bellows formers are also works of art and very ingenious). It doesn't happen any more because their insurers have classified their workshop as factory space and have told them that visits by members of the public would result in them not being insured. :(

 

Chris

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:(

And I used to enjoy my trips to see Colin and Rosalie (and workshop).

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Couldn't happen now. It was quite commonplace for visitors to be invited up into the Dippers' workshop (and their bellows formers are also works of art and very ingenious). It doesn't happen any more because their insurers have classified their workshop as factory space and have told them that visits by members of the public would result in them not being insured. :(

 

Chris

 

Many years ago I took a concertina to Colin Dipper to be tuned, and he took me into the workshop. He had only just moved into the house, and the workshop was pretty much the only habitable room, the rest was a building site. We talked concertinas and he told me of his plans for doing up the house - he intended to do a lot of the work himself.

 

A few years later I took another box to him. As I drove down to Wiltshire I was wondering what the house would be like. It had hardly changed - I guess he'd been too busy with concertinas to make any progress on it.

 

I've not been back since - I hope he found time to finish it!

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Many years ago I took a concertina to Colin Dipper to be tuned, and he took me into the workshop. He had only just moved into the house, and the workshop was pretty much the only habitable room, the rest was a building site. We talked concertinas and he told me of his plans for doing up the house - he intended to do a lot of the work himself.

 

A few years later I took another box to him. As I drove down to Wiltshire I was wondering what the house would be like. It had hardly changed - I guess he'd been too busy with concertinas to make any progress on it.

 

I've not been back since - I hope he found time to finish it!

Well, Howard, the kitchen was looking pretty cosy when I was last there in 1999.

 

Regards,

Peter.

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Many years ago I took a concertina to Colin Dipper to be tuned, and he took me into the workshop. He had only just moved into the house, and the workshop was pretty much the only habitable room, the rest was a building site. We talked concertinas and he told me of his plans for doing up the house - he intended to do a lot of the work himself.

 

A few years later I took another box to him. As I drove down to Wiltshire I was wondering what the house would be like. It had hardly changed - I guess he'd been too busy with concertinas to make any progress on it.

 

I've not been back since - I hope he found time to finish it!

Well, Howard, the kitchen was looking pretty cosy when I was last there in 1999.

 

Regards,

Peter.

 

You'll be pleased to know that the kitchen is still looking pretty cosy, Peter. At least it was when I visited Colin last year. And in between making and repairing concertinas, both he and Rosalie have also found time to raise two children, one of whom, John, is a very successful fiddle player with his own band. Don't know how they do it! :unsure:

 

Chris

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A few years later I took another box to him. As I drove down to Wiltshire I was wondering what the house would be like. It had hardly changed - I guess he'd been too busy with concertinas to make any progress on it.

It's really nice now, though thoroughly lived in. Keep an eye out for detail, for instance the floor of the living room has a beautiful inlaid design of folk instruments, done by Colin and Rosalie themselves.

 

Chris

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You'll be pleased to know that the kitchen is still looking pretty cosy, Peter. At least it was when I visited Colin last year. And in between making and repairing concertinas, both he and Rosalie have also found time to raise two children, one of whom, John, is a very successful fiddle player with his own band. Don't know how they do it! :unsure:

 

Chris

Hi Chris,

 

I've kept in touch with Colin and Rosalie (it's always nice to chat to them), and kept tabs on John's career. I remember John as a youngster, but it's worrying to see that he has now adopted Colin's hair-style (I think that it something to do with the passage of time!).

 

See you on Monday?

 

Regards,

Peter.

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You'll be pleased to know that the kitchen is still looking pretty cosy, Peter. At least it was when I visited Colin last year. And in between making and repairing concertinas, both he and Rosalie have also found time to raise two children, one of whom, John, is a very successful fiddle player with his own band. Don't know how they do it! :unsure:

 

Chris

Hi Chris,

 

I've kept in touch with Colin and Rosalie (it's always nice to chat to them), and kept tabs on John's career. I remember John as a youngster, but it's worrying to see that he has now adopted Colin's hair-style (I think that it something to do with the passage of time!).

 

See you on Monday?

 

Regards,

Peter.

 

To drag this back on-topic, I should have mentioned that I also visited the old Crabb premises in Islington, where I too was attended to by Neville, but I never made it beyond the counter.

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post-82-1154635007_thumb.jpgHello

 

Here are two shots of a bellows jig auctioned on e-bay by (from the look of the background) Chris Algar.

Don't know whos'e bellows they formed.

post-82-1154635045_thumb.jpg

Edited by Peter Stephenson

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You'll be pleased to know that the kitchen is still looking pretty cosy, Peter. At least it was when I visited Colin last year. And in between making and repairing concertinas, both he and Rosalie have also found time to raise two children, one of whom, John, is a very successful fiddle player with his own band. Don't know how they do it! :unsure:

 

Chris

Hi Chris,

 

I've kept in touch with Colin and Rosalie (it's always nice to chat to them), and kept tabs on John's career. I remember John as a youngster, but it's worrying to see that he has now adopted Colin's hair-style (I think that it something to do with the passage of time!).

 

See you on Monday?

 

Regards,

Peter.

 

To drag this back on-topic, I should have mentioned that I also visited the old Crabb premises in Islington, where I too was attended to by Neville, but I never made it beyond the counter.

 

Well, Peter, John does seem to have become folically challenged rather prematurely (unlike some of us luckier ones - I am rather attached to mine!) but it doesn't seem to have affected his playing, thank goodness. Re: monday at The George, I'm on a family visit to the west country and won't make it back in time. Hope you have a good session and see you in September. Now, back to topic with a reminisence of a friend of mine who plays the EC. She took her beautiful Wheatstone Aeola to Crabbs many years ago to have it re-tuned. She was told to come back in three weeks, by which time it would be ready. She arrived at the counter to collect it and was served by Neville, who asked her if she would be willing to swap it for one of their new models. What a cheek! Naturally, she refused and it is still her pride and joy to this day.

 

Chris

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Just where was the Crabbs shop? Which road and which number? I go to Angel at least once per week and fancy a little expedition.

 

It's probably a kebab shop or taxi base now but I'd still like to find it.

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Just where was the Crabbs shop? Which road and which number? I go to Angel at least once per week and fancy a little expedition.

 

It's probably a kebab shop or taxi base now but I'd still like to find it.

 

It's in the Liverpool Road, Peter, at the Angel end. As you proceed way from the Angel in the direction of the Holloway Road, which it meets at the other end, the shop frontage is on the right-hand side nearer the Angel end. I can't remember the number off hand but the sign "Crabb - concertina makers" above the shop frontage, has been preserved (a bit like a blue plaque) and was still up and visible last time I drove past it a couple of years ago. Hope this helps.

 

Chris

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It's in the Liverpool Road, Peter, at the Angel end.

Number 158.

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It's in the Liverpool Road, Peter, at the Angel end.

Number 158.

 

I always knew you had a head for figures, Peter. Good session at The George on monday and just to let you know, Juliette's CD is quite magical. I shall let her know too!

 

Chris

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I always knew you had a head for figures, Peter. Good session at The George on monday and just to let you know, Juliette's CD is quite magical. I shall let her know too!

Hi Chris,

 

Well, figures were how I made my living!

 

I'll have to ask Juliette about a posting to advertise her CD, and, yes, I agree with your comment!

 

Regards,

Peter.

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If you do visit the shop and the Crabb sign is still there, how about a photo of it for us all on Concertina.net?

 

Pete

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