The retail music trade in Victorian Bath

Spring, M (2016) The retail music trade in Victorian Bath. In: BAVS 2016: Consuming (the) Victorians, 31 August - 2 September 2016, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales.

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The early decades of the nineteenth century saw a rapid expansion of music shops in Bath. Though there were many toyshops, repositories and later department stores that dealt in instruments, accessories and music, there was normally but one principle music-business specialist in the city until around 1810. After Underwood and later Milgrove from the 1740s to the 1770s this role was take on by Lintern and Tylee (and then Lintern alone after 1800). This pattern changed in the early nineteenth century with the sudden influx of new businesses, in those of Andrew Loder, John David Loder, John White, George Packer and Matthew Patton, and Charles Milson. This plethora of businesses gradually reduced during the Victorian period after the entrance in 1848 of William Duck into Bath’s music retail trade and his ensuing success. This paper follows the changing fortunes of the firm that grew to become Duck, Son and Pinker. With premises across the entire Northern side of Pulteney Bridge, and further shops and warehouses in Bath, Bristol and neighboring towns, its success was rooted in the rise of the Victorian domestic upright piano. This story takes in the rival firm of Milsom’s with which Duck’s vide throughout the period, and with which it eventually merged. Both firms developed their own relatively inexpensive but robust domestic upright pianos manufactured in their workshops in Bristol. With an eye on the colonial trade and easy access through the Port of Bristol they were exported in some numbers. Yet both firms also sold sheet music in large quantity and a full range of other instruments and music services. This tradition sadly ended when Duck, Son and Pinker, closed its doors on 1st April 2011 and a successful remnant of the Victoriana age died. Fortunately the company papers survive and this talk presents a first report on the contribution these businesses made to the commercial musical life of Bath and their close connection to many of the other areas of musical activity in the cities of Bath and Bristol.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2017 16:59
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:45
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