Posted 01 July 2003

Professor Maccann Performs in Plymouth

Robert Gaskins

John Hill Maccann in Plymouth

Professor John Hill Maccann gives his address as “30 Morley Street and 37, Morley Place Plymouth in the county of Devon” in his 1884 patent application, and is listed as a concertina maker in the 1885 directory for Plymouth.

During this same period we have a review from the Western Figaro of a performance by Professor Maccann and others at the Mechanics’ Institute building in Plymouth which took place on Wednesday, 25 February 1885. Maccann evidently liked this review, since he chose to quote from it in his Concertinist’s Guide three years later.

The Western Figaro had begun publication on 7 November 1877 and survived until 1902. “For a penny it provided sixteen pages in two columns illustrated by cartoons, much in the style of Punch. The publishers Messrs Screech and Dunstan of Martin Street, Plymouth announced ‘We don't propose to make thrones totter, or nations rise and fall .. We desire simply to please, to beguile and amuse ... .’ ” (From Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History 12, A History of the Book in Devon, The Printer's Repertoire.)


western-figaro-27-feb-1885-p15 Western Figaro (Plymouth), Friday, 27 February 1885, page 15

“ There was a very good house at the Mechanics’ Institute last Wednesday [25 Feb 1885] to do honor to Professor Maccann, in spite of all the other rival attractions. ... The Professor himself, on an instrument which he has just patented, played a pretty duet “The Birds of the Wood,” and, by desire, his imitation of church bells. ... Professor Maccann’s Concert was, to be brief, highly successful, and no doubt he will get up another soon that will be equally so. ”

(Maccann’s tutor, New Method of Instructions ... published 1885, features a composition entitled “Chiming Bells” on page 24.)


Posted 01 July 2003
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The Plymouth Mechanics' Institute had been opened in 1825, in a building by Foulston. It was in Princess Square at the corner of Westwell Street. The Institute survived half a century or so, and its building became the Princess Hall, used for other purposes. In 1915, it was re-opened as the Plymouth Repertory Theatre, which survived until 1927, when the building was sold; the pictures below are from a Repertory Theatre programme and from the sales catalogue (dated 26 May 1927). The property continued as a theatre until 1936. The hall was modest, with fewer than 300 seats, but was said to be “intimate and engaging”. (From Applause Southwest, a website about theatre past and present in Plymouth UK and surrounding areas.)

Prof. Maccann appears in Plymouth, 1885
Review of Prof. Maccann in
Plymouth, 1885, playing
“on an instrument which
he has just patented”.


Links to related documents

maccann-in-america Prof. Maccann’s North American Tour (1890–1891)
by Robert Gaskins
Newspaper theatrical notices from the Brooklyn (New York) Daily Eagle describe John Hill Maccann’s appearances at Hyde and Behman’s Variety Theater, Brooklyn, in November 1890 and February 1891. Updated 22 December 2003: added a notice from the New York Times for 27 January 1891, during the same North American tour.
Posted 01 June 2003
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maccann-champion-of-america Professor Maccann: “America’s Champion Concertinist”
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“PROFESSOR MACCANN, the celebrated concertinist, has brought back with him from America a fine medal, which became his property by a rival musician, Amducas Vestman, failing to meet the Professor in a concertina contest for the championship and $300. ...” From The Era newspaper, London, 2 May 1891.
Posted 01 June 2003
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