Friday, 30 April 2010

Rushworth`s Request for information

My name is Mrs Irene Henshaw and I worked at Rushworth and Draper from 1937 (when I was 18 years old and my name was Miss Platt) to 1941 when the war meant that I had to leave to work at the Ministry of Food.

Rushworths was a very significant part of my young life in Liverpool and I have very fond memories of my job there and the many characters I worked with.

My first role was in the organ works on Great George Street - a marvellous place. I remember the apprentice organ builders and George Hutchins the Manager of the organ works who tested them. I recall sitting alongside him on the organ bench while he played, urging him to ‘swing it’ a bit! The men were highly skilled craftsman – my bosses Mr Rackham and Mr Parker were university graduates. Every room contained organ pipes and the various elements that went into the build – it was very complicated. When the war came, the organ works was closed because it was felt that organs were luxury items and there would be no call for them. The Sheet Music Department was also a very important part of the business.

When the organ works closed, I went to work in the shop on Islington where they sold radiograms, I then worked in the publicity department – scouring the newspapers for any reference to Rushworth and Draper and keeping the cuttings - and I also worked for a short spell in the basement trying to sell, would you believe, washing machines and industrial sized ironing boards! This idea was Mr James Rushworth’s – he thought it would be a money spinner but it didn’t work. I also remember Maynard Rushworth who gave piano lessons.
One of my friends was Miss Rae Davies who worked in the Box Office managing all the ticket sales for shows around the country and for the Liverpool theatres too. Miss Davies shared the Box Office with a parrot that greeted customers – a company gimmick - it used to irritate her terribly.

As well as serving all things musical, Rushworths had a strong connection with the theatres and with visiting actors. Rushworth Hall was used by artistes for rehearsals and many famous names of the day passed through the doors including Michael Redgrave; Malcolm Sargent was also a regular visitor.

Rushworth’s cared for their employees – although the pay wasn’t brilliant. As well as a staff restaurant serving excellent food, there was a rest room for female employees who might have a tummy ache and need a hot water bottle and a lie down. There was also an annual company sports day.

Alison Henshaw on behalf of Irene Henshaw


  1. Just enquiring about a Rushwoth & Draper Music Festival Hall which I remember attending with my piano teacher for exams when I was a young girl in the 1950's. I remember coming out of Liverpool Lime Street Station going past the Empire Theatre and it was at the top of that road, but I visited the Theatre last week and couln't quite make out where it used to be. I seem to recall a history room being in this hall with all the old pianos in it. Would love to know if anyone else remembers it.

  2. The original Rushworths showrooms in Islington was a place of magic for a young schoolboy. I remember taking part in a mouth organ contest in what must have been a small theatre. That would be in the 1930s.In my view the firm never recovered from it's compulsory removal to Whitechapel just to make way for the awful road system which desecrated that part of the city.

    Reginald D. Owen

  3. To Jonathan Rushworth.
    Hi Jonathan, I have recently been in contact with an ex-employee of Rushworhs who is now living down-south. He has some good funny stories of his time there. If you are interested leave a comment and I will get back in touch.

  4. Can anyone please point me to a picture that I’ve seen on the internet but can’t find now. It is of the violin makers and repairers at Rushworth’s. It looks like it was taken 1900-1920 as all the men have fine moustaches. The wood is stacked and ready to go … it’s a great picture. I am starting my violin making business in Liverpool and it would be great to have this link to the past. Many thanks in anticipation.

    Mike Phoenix

  5. I’m applying for a scholarship to write a history of Rushworth’s in Liverpool so I’m really interested in this at the moment. I’m fascinated by how influential the shop was for nearly 150 years. There are rumours that lots of the company records were shredded years ago but I’m hoping to find some really interesting stuff.

    Liverpool Record Office has moved to near Sandhills Station.
    Liverpool Library Satellite Service
    Unit 33 Wellington Employment Park South, Sandhills, Liverpool L5 9ZS
    0151 233 5817
    They’re open 9-6 Monday to Saturday.

    Comment by Jill Hampson

  6. I believe that I may have a family connection with Edwin Rushworth dating to around the mid-1800s and would be most grateful for contact with anyone involved in the genealogy of the Rushworth family
    alan dixon

  7. James RushworthApril 13, 2012 2:11 pm

    I would love to learn more about the history of the family. Always fascinated me, especially as he is my namesake