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John Enderby Jackson


Image courtesy of Peter Fawcett, from

his book 'Ringing for Gold'.

Click the image to visit the site.

It is always good to be able to learn about local personalities. When they are famous internationally it makes them even more significant. That is the case in Scarborough with John Enderby Jackson.

Although he was very famous as a band promoter worldwide over time his name faded from the public domain. This is a pity for we owe much to his prowess and musical aptitude.

John Enderby Jackson was born in Hull in 1827. His father who lived in Mytongate, Hull, was strongly opposed to him growing up with a musical career and he wanted his son to become a part of the family business namely Tallow chandlers and soap boilers. The family had followed this line for generations in Hull .His grandfather belonged to an old south sea whaling family of Enderbys from which the mother of General Gordon also descended.

John was educated at the Hull Grammar School and in his class were pupils who were to become literary celebrities namely Charles Cooper, (Scotsman), John Symions, (Eastern Morning News) Brother Leng (Sheffield and Dundee), John Barker (Poet). Music was not then regarded well in scholastic institutions and hardly had any mention in school books. Long wars had hardened the nation.

In those days Hull had four theatres, The Theatre Royal, The Queen’s Theatre, The Adlelphi and Clarence besides Duerows Circus and other amusements. His father supplied the Hull Theatre Royal with tallow candles, three rows of which formed the footlights (Gas being unknown in Hull) , the boxes being lighted with wax candles. John hated working amongst these and whilst there he would take the opportunity to have a few surreptitious glances at his “Hamilton’s Harmony” book and to gain some musical knowledge as his father had forbid him from studying music. At times when he could slip away from the shop he would lock himself away in his bedroom and read works on music. He remembered Paganini playing in 1835 at the Theatre Royal. This impressed him immensely and he then resolved to become a musician. He soon made friends with players of the orchestra in Hull and during the interval he was sent to snuff the candles.

At twelve John could play well and at fifteen he could read music. At that time he said “I could arrange music for our orchestra and compose small pieces such as minuets, waltzes and quadrilles etc.”

During this time M. Jullien made his appearance in England when he created a complete musical revolution with a great orchestra. After a few London seasons he visited the provinces including Hull. John was present and he said his future was sealed. He heard the band and had never heard music like that before. He said “I saw him conduct and every gesticulation to me was a study; he inspired me and I resolved I would become a conductor”.

Music had become John’s strong passion and he said it devoured him. His brain was eternally on the rack how to accomplish his ambition and rise all around him and equal Jullien. He watched the walls for months on end to see the well-known red ground and white letters with black shading. ‘Jullien is coming’. Each time he visited Hull John was there admiring the liquid sounds of Richardson’s flute, the horn of Vivien, the flageolet of Collinet and others. They heard renderings of Mozart and Beethoven which Jullien skillfully interlaced amongst the lighter compositions. John devoted himself to study including harmony and instrumentation much to the disgust of his father who threatened with expulsion from home if he continued to pursue music. He mother had died which caused him great misery. He bravely continued in music in preference to being a partner in candle making. He learnt to play the flute and harmony under the excellent musician and composer, Dr.Harry Duval who was also a teacher of singing in the Royal Conservatoire, Brussels and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music London.   One day he went to York with his flute and cornet and accepted a position as flute player in York circuit for a salary 18/- per week. His future followed a spell in Leeds with the Theatre and then through England with the Pyne & Harrison Opera Company. Later to Scotland with Professor Anderson and M.Thioden studying and forming various acquaintances with local musicians. As band music at the time was scarce and very expensive he composed glees and marches and presented them to teachers in the towns he visited.

Jackson’s wife, Elizabeth (nee Smith) was born in Lincoln on Sept 11th.1837 and gave birth to their daughter Harriot Gertrude in 1867. Jackson at the time was a licensed victualler as well as a Musical contractor. They acquired a servant called Ellen Bocock age 21 and who came from Stainforth in Lincolnshire.

1847 it was found that an amateur Brass Band was capable of undertaking a lengthy engagement at a noted seaside resort. This was Leeds Temperance Band which were to play at Scarborough. This had been made more accessible by the opening of the railway from Hull to Scarborough the previous year. They were engaged for the next two years.

A notable visit to London in 1851 brought him new introductions to other musicians. By visiting the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace he met Mr.James A.Melling of Stalybridge and Mr. Tallis of Chesterfield. These were both noted Midland young musicians. They were very keen to learn from Jackson about the excellent brass bands in Yorkshire. They then suggested that because the rail provisions were rapidly progressing it would make good sense for deputations from the bands to visit railway managers for the purpose for operations to bring bands to suitable centres and arrange fares accordingly. The task fell on Jackson to undertake visiting railway managers to seek concessions on mutual terms for the Midlands, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire towns. On his way back to Hull he called at Derby’s Midland Railway offices, and at York’s office of the North Eastern Railway and had favourable reactions. At Hull he tried to persuade Railway directors to reduce excursion fares to half a crown maximum for towns 60 miles away. He worked hard and received the Mayor’s blessing and through him gained the assistance of Lord Londesborough..

In 1853 arrangements being made for a Royal visit to Hull, Enderby Jackson was enlisted to help with the selections and marshalling of brass and Military bands in the district. He was the recipient at the hands of Her Majesty Queen Victoria a decoration for his good musical work amongst the working population of England.

In 1855 The North Eastern Railway offered to run excursions in conjunction with brass band contests in Yorkshire. This was a good opportunity for Jackson’s talents to be demonstrated. He then composed glees and marches presenting them to teachers in the towns he visited. The cultivation of the musical workmen was a daunting task nonetheless he was able establish an event at the Zoological Gardens in Hull. Twenty one bands entered and the trains brought crowds to the city and 1200 bought tickets for the contest performance. This was followed by another contest in 1857.

He had been excited to bring the musical experience to the ordinary workman of the day. On one occasion he formed an orchestra of 300 players which brought delight from people from many parts. During the years 1857 - 59 he organised contests in Hull, Peterborough, Newcastle, Lincoln, Bristol, Grantham, Northampton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Doncaster, Boston, Leicester, Darlington, Ipswich, Norwich, Leeds, and Sheffield. This provided the source of readymade bands for the Volunteer Movement and were established as regimental bands. The police band also followed the movement and the “Bobbies Band” became a recognised force. There was no stopping his reputation.

It is important to realise that Jackson’s life was now on a strong musical footing. By determination and fortitude his talents were in demand in composing, conducting and arranging band contests. Now living in Prospect Street Hull he was asked to write a test piece for a contest in Sheffield. This was the ‘Venetian Waltz and a trial run was given to this piece at a contest held in Newcastle. Again in 1860 the first brass national band contest was held at Crystal Palace in London. He was asked to bring twelve teams of hand bell ringers from Yorkshire and Lancashire to contest for musical supremacy. As far as the bands were concerned seventy two entered on the first day and ninety eight on the second day. The Scarborough Gazette in July 1860 reported the members of all bands assembled and the Handel Orchestra played, “Rule Britannia” “Hallelujah Chorus”, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”, Haydn’s “The Heavens are telling”, and Arne’s “God save the Queen”. This enhanced Jackson’s reputation throughout the Northern and Midland counties.

In 1871 the family were still living in Hull and in that year he undertook a three year tour of New Zealand and Australia with the concert company Enderby Jackson’s London Star Company Comique. Unfortunately ill health prevented him remaining in Australia as manager of the Melbourne Opera House. He returned to England going to live at 21 Queens Street, Scarborough. It was here his son Edmund Herbert Jackson was born who joined the Army Service Corps in 1914. He was killed in action at St.Omer France on 24th. March 1918. After a rest for a few years John undertook in 1875 the management of a tour with the well-known actor and actress Mr  & Mrs John Billington in the plays of Paul Merritt entitled “Rough & Ready”, “Hand & Glove”. Later in 1877 he brought to England a first-class Italian concert party including the renowned soprano singer Madame Camilla de Maeson and Miss Jackson then aged eight was solo pianist. They visited all the major towns.

In 1882 Enderby Jackson moved to 2 Sherwood Street, Scarborough. The rates book for that year showed his rental £15 per annum, rateable value £12 payable at 2/- in the £…£1.45. Here is a letter he wrote there in 1893, found in Scarborough School Board Minute Books.

Soon after in 1885 he represented the English Music and Contest Work at the Antwerp Music Festival and undertook various other overseas assignments. The first brass band contest held in Scarborough was in the Castle Yard. Further contests were held at the Cricket Ground.

 After this exhausting activity he rested up and devoted himself to other interests such as painting. His mind was ever active. He wrote numerous articles on the various works of his friends in art. These included R.Stubbs, Timmerman, Grimshaw, Cook and Roe and devoted much of his time developing his daughter’s musical gifts.

A notable additional feature of his life was painting. He had a remarkable talent for this which no doubt gave him solace during times of stress and personal contemplation.

He had other ideas for Scarborough one of which would bring together a scheme to build a tunnel from the Headland through to the other side to enable a roadway to be built. This remained on his drawing board.

From the foregoing it will be realised that John Enderby Jackson was a man of numerous talents and whose mind was ever active to conquer new realms. He needs to be accorded acknowledgement for his life’s achievements and association with Scarborough. He died in Scarborough on 9th.April 1903 aged 76 and is buried in Manor Road Cemetery.

An Archive of Enderby Jackson is held in Scarborough Library.

Colin Langford


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