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
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 (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.
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.)